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What Are Mast Cells? Types of white blood cells found in everyone and in most tissue throughout your body. Found in tissues in close contact with the environment such as your skin, airways, and gastrointestinal tract and your cardiovascular, nervous, and reproductive systems. Release signaling chemicals as part of an immune system stabilizing defense in response against foreign invaders like parasites, fungi, bacteria, or viruses or allergens, and environmental toxins. Allergy cells that contain a number of chemicals responsible for immediate allergic reactions. Protects from infection, heal wounds, creates new blood cells, and develops immune tolerance. Can become dysfunctional or overactive creating more serious health issues.
WHAT ARE MAST CELL MEDIATORS?
Mediators are the granules secreted by mast cells in response to an outside stimulus which include histamine, proteases, leukotrienes, prostaglandins, chemokines, and cytokines. Release mediators that are either stored inside the mast cell or produced by them. (In the case of an allergic reaction, this release occurs when the allergy antibody IgE is present on the surface of the mast cell and binds to the proteins that cause allergies. These are “allergens.”) Signal and guide other cells, tissues, and organs to respond to hostile invaders. Mediators provoke potent inflammatory responses that can include skin rash and swelling, swelling beneath the skin surface, airway constriction, diarrhea, vomiting, low blood pressure, cardiovascular collapse, and even death all within minutes.
WHAT IS MAST CELL ACTIVATION SYNDROME (MCAS)?
A condition triggering mast cells to release inappropriate amounts of chemicals into your body. Triggering is referred to as “activation” occurring without awareness creating a myriad of symptoms.
SECONDARY MAST CELL ACTIVATION
Activated by other substances such as infection, insect bites, vaccinations, and medications as a direct result to external stimuli. Normal response by mast cells creating symptoms ranging from itching, scratching and swelling, congestion, sneezing, inflammation, and the overproduction of mucous. Mutations in mast cells can produce populations of identical mast cells called clones that result in overproduction and spontaneous release of mediators. Abnormal cells can grow uncontrollably and are unusually sensitive to activation creating Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. Histamine Intolerance is a Subset of MCAS Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) is sometimes confused with Histamine Intolerance (HIT) and is considered a subset where too much histamine is released due to a flood of histamine taken in by consuming foods containing histamine. Occurs when histamine is not broken down in the gut because of Diamine Oxidase (DAO) gut enzyme deficiency, or Histamine-N-Methyltransferase (HNMT) deficiency and is not properly broken down in the liver. Symptoms and conditions are the same as MCAS, with the exception that mast cells secrete many mediators of inflammation with MCAS, not just histamine. Histamine serves as a neurotransmitter, helps to produce stomach acid, and is an important immune mediator when not going overboard. Mast Cell Activation disorders require the presence of several of symptoms and a proper diagnosis.
DETAILED SYMPTOMS OF MAST CELL ACTIVATION SYNDROME
Causes episodic multi-system symptoms as the result of mast cell mediator release and without causing abnormalities in routine laboratory or radiologic testing. Creates chronic and recurrent inflammation, with or without allergic symptoms, as a response to the immune system becoming overactive due to the release of inflammatory chemicals affecting every organ in your body. Symptoms come and go over time similar to a flare-up and remission like those found in auto-immune disorders and reoccur over and over again affecting different organs and parts of your body throughout your lifetime. Often has a lack of common unifying set of symptoms. Is often discovered when there is a lack of an established diagnoses to account for your symptoms. Becomes a highly probable diagnosis when various symptoms of an inflammatory nature have occurred throughout your lifetime. Subtle becoming more serious with age.
MAST CELL ACTIVATION SYNDROME BY ORGAN SYSTEM:
Any of these symptoms could indicate an issue with mast cells:
Eyes – Red, irritated, dry, burning eyes, difficulty focusing vision, and conjunctivitis (pink eye).
Nose – Nasal stuffiness, sinusitis, postnasal drip, hoarseness, laryngitis, nose bleeds (epistaxis), and intranasal sores.
Ears – Ringing in ears (tinnitus) and eustachian tube dysfunction (blocked, popping ears).
Throat – Vocal cord dysfunction, throat swelling, sores on tongue/mouth, itchy throat, burning mouth, and difficulty swallowing.
Skin – Hives, angioedema (swelling of the skin), skin flushing, itching, skin rashes, dermatographism (when scratched skin causes a red welt), chronic itching, urticarial pigmentosa (legion/hive-like spots on the skin), flushing, bruising easily, reddish or pale complexion, cherry angiomata (skin growths), patchy red rashes, red face in the morning, cuts that won’t heal, fungal skin infections, and lichen planus.
Cardiovascular – Fainting, fainting upon standing, increased pulse rate (tachycardia), palpitations, spikes and drops in blood pressure, high pulse or temperature, high triglycerides, lightheadedness, dizzy, hot flashes, and postural orthostatic hypotension syndrome (POTS).
Respiratory – Wheezing, asthma, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing deeply, air hunger, dry cough, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and chronic interstitial fibrosis.
GI Tract - Left upper abdominal pain, splenomegaly (enlarged spleen), epigastric tenderness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and/or constipation, abdominal cramping, bloating, non-cardiac chest pain, malabsorption, GERD/acid reflux, cyclic vomiting syndrome, colonic polyps, and gastric polyps.
Liver – High bilirubin, elevated liver enzymes, and high cholesterol.
Neurological – Numbness and tingling (especially hands and feet), headaches, migraines, tics, tremors, pseudo-seizures, true seizures, waxing and waning brain fog, memory loss, poor concentration, difficulty finding words, and spells of cataplexy (unresponsive or nonreactive).
Musculoskeletal – Muscle pain, fibromyalgia, increased osteopenia, osteoporosis, weakness, and migratory arthritis (joint pain).
Coagulation – History of clots, deep vein thrombosis, increased bruising, heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding nose, and cuts that won’t stop bleeding.
Blood disorders – Anemia, increased white blood cell count, platelets, decreased white blood cell counts, decreased neutrophils, decreased lymphocytes, decreased platelets, reductions in CD4 helper lymphocytes, reductions in CD8 positive suppressor lymphocytes, reductions or excesses of IgA, IgG, IgM, IgE, a known condition called MGUS, myelodysplastic syndrome (reduced red cells, white cells, platelets), and increased MCV (mean corpuscular volume).
Psychiatry – Anxiety, panic, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), decreased attention span, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), forgetfulness, and insomnia.
Genitourinary – Interstitial cystitis, recurrent bladder infections, sterile bladder infections, and frequent urination.
Hormones - Decreased libido, painful periods, heavy periods, infertility, and decreased sperm counts.
Dental – Deteriorating teeth.
Anaphylaxis – Difficulty breathing, itchy hives, flushing or pale skin, feeling warm after exposure, weak and rapid pulse, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and fainting.
As you can see, histamine disorders can affect many parts of the body and because it can create so many symptoms that mimic other health conditions, it can be overlooked and misdiagnosed.
Dr. Kristen Lindgren works with patients to identify mast cell and histamine disorders which can be the root cause of many health issues specifically those who have had troubles in seeking a proper diagnosis for symptoms.
If you have health multiple health issues and symptoms have been difficult to identify their source, you might have a histamine disorder. Histamine disorders can cause a myriad of health problems that prevent you from feeling your best. We can help!
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