Allergies, Fibromyalgia, or Mast Cell Activation?


It could be difficult to initially comprehend, but the symptoms of chronic allergies might actually play a bigger role in health than previously thought. Though an allergy can evoke chronic health issues, mast cell activation disorder (MCAD) can present as many conditions like fibromyalgia, lupus, chronic lyme disease, multiple sclerosis and more.

Mast cells are known to cause severe allergies, and even unexplained and difficult to treat symptoms. However, they play an integral part in the immune system and are found throughout the body.

Research is guiding doctors into a brand new terrain where these helpful cells have been identified as the causative agent for asthma, allergies, autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, and many other conditions. Phoenixrising even contends that chronic fatigue syndrome can be attributed to “mast cell release.”

Mayo Clinic says this “systemic mastocytosis” (synonym MCAD) is caused by a genetic mutation, which results in an excessive amount of mast cells in a person’s body. On a good day, they are believed to protect people from disease, and to help them heal from injury by releasing leukotrienes, and histamine. With MCAD, the excess mast cells will build up in blood vessels and skin, however, and even the respiratory system, reproductive organs, and gastrointestinal tract (GI).

Signs include facial flushing, rapid heartbeat, itching, abdominal cramps, fainting, or light-headedness. The known triggers, cites those at Mayo Clinic, can be alcohol, temperature change, medications, or spicy food. The GeneticGenie, however, says triggers can also be drug abuse, preservatives, stress, toxins, mold and bacteria, additives in food or drinks, and even sunlight.

Though much has been known about mast cells for many years, conditions like chronic allergies or fibromyalgia could be misdiagnosed when mast cells have accumulated as a pathogenic antagonist.

Frieri, Patel, and Celestin wrote a review on mast cell activation syndrome, published through PubMed. The condition causes symptoms in the GI tract, skin, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, and neurological system. Diagnostic criteria involve the affection of two or more organ systems with symptoms ranging from constant nasal stuffiness, pruritus (severe itching of the skin), wheezing, and tachycardia (an abnormally rapid heart rate).

Doctor Theoharides believes mast cells act as innate pathogens, and can even contribute to “autism pathogenesis.” He writes in International Trends in Immunity, autism, asthma, and allergies have reached epidemic proportions and recent evidence indicates an interesting finding. Mitochondria (what produces cellular energy) release what is known as DNA and ATP, and this can be misconstrued by the body as pathogens, in turn, leading to an auto-inflammatory response, even autism.

“Allergic-like” symptoms are usually present in children with autism.
Interestingly, Gerhard Molderings and his team wrote a paper in the Journal of Hematology and Oncology¬†on the diagnostic workup and therapy for mast cell activation disease. In their paper they state that mast cells have an involvement in “subsets of fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, idiopathic anaphylaxis, and subsets of irritable bowel syndrome.”

Fibromyalgia affects nearly five million individuals within the United States alone. One-in-68 children fit in the autistic spectrum, which is allegedly a ten-fold increase from 40 years ago. Allergies have also been reported to be on the rise. Because of recent findings, mast cell activation has now become a hot topic as it could explain many conditions like fibromyalgia, allergies, and neurological conditions.

By Lindsey Alexander



International Trends in Immunity

Skeletal Muscle


Journal of Hematology and Oncology 

Mast Cell Aware


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