Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) is a very serious, often overlooked condition. About one in four people with the disease cannot work or participate in normal day-to-day activities. It is a disease that affects people of all ages or gender, but one funny thing about it is that it is often unrecognized and possibly remains undiagnosed in many cases.
MCAS is a group of diseases involving the immune system. When the triggers occur, antigens are raised inside the body, which might result in itchiness, for example. But this also leads to a histamine cascade, which causes contraction of the respiratory vessels. Then blood vessels dilate and result in gastric acid secretion.
Many people with MCAS can have very serious life-threatening reactions such as anaphylaxis. Typical symptoms include itching, headaches, brain fog, fatigue, heart palpitations, hives, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal problems, wheezing, low blood pressure, anxiety and, very typically, a flushing or a swelling, which appears on the face or body.
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is a condition in which the patient experiences repeated episodes of the symptoms of anaphylaxis – allergic symptoms such as hives, swelling, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing and severe diarrhea. High levels of mast cell mediators are released during those episodes.
For these reasons, it is therefore important that you are very much aware of the top seven underlying factors that can contribute to Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and avoid them completely so you can live a healthier, happier life.
These triggers, as identified by naturopath Beth O'Hara, include the following:
Food with histamines is the first trigger for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. It includes packaged and gluten-free foods, which all have preservatives and high levels of a substance called histamine. These preservatives enable the product to have a long shelf life, but could inadvertently trigger mast cells.
The second trigger is infections and toxicity. Many people with mast cells have chronic infections like Candida overgrowth. Lyme disease and mould exposure are also very potent triggers of mast cell disease.
The third trigger is genetic factors. Because each of us is exposed to over 80,000 chemicals during the course of our lifetime, these chemicals build up and cause genetic weaknesses, creating toxic environments and hurting us at the same time. So, it's important to detox from time to time, take nutritional supplements and consult with a functional medical doctor, integrative medical practitioner or naturopath for help.
The fourth trigger for mast cell disease is nutritional deficiencies. Because mast cells cause gastric acid secretion, many individuals with mast cell disease have underlying gut issues like colitis, proctocolitis or Crohn's disease. These conditions may mean that nutrients are not properly absorbed. It is therefore important that you consult with your healthcare provider and use appropriate lab testing as required to check for nutritional deficiencies.
Low oxygen is the fifth trigger for mast cell disease. This is an important issue because many people have airway blockages and other conditions that disturb their sleep such as sleep apnea. Low oxygen concentrations can trigger mast cell issues, causing increased stress.
The sixth trigger for mast cell disease is hormone imbalances. Women are especially targeted by these issues. This is because estrogen is linked to mast cell production. Cortisol and stress also affect mast cells. Therefore, appropriate lab testing for estrogen and progesterone as well as cortisol may also be important in gaining control of the triggers in order to minimize mast cell activation.
The seventh trigger for mast cell disease is stress and early trauma. Typical stressful events include experiencing discomfort at home or in the workplace, losing a job, losing an important relationship, overwork, feelings of isolation, feeling unsupported or worries about children or family members.
From the foregoing, therefore, it is important to know that any of these seven triggers may cause mast cell disease, forcing the mast cells to overreact and release too much inflammation. So, check if you have any of these symptoms typical of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome to know if any of these triggers actually caused it so you can do something proactive for your own health. Because Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is often unrecognized and undiagnosed means it could ruin your life and impact on your future. Avoid these seven triggers today and live a full, healthier life.
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O'Hara, Beth. Mast Cell 360 Guide: 7 Root Causes in Mast cell Activation Syndrome.