When you have mast cell activation syndrome, it essentially means that your immune system is overactive.
It’s not your entire immune system as a whole, though– it’s just one type of cell, known as the mast cells.
Mast cells are the “protectors” of the body.
If you get a papercut, mast cells travel there to help repair it.
If you’re fighting off a cold, mast cells are one type of cell that responds, creating some temporary inflammation and side effects (which is why you feel congested!) helping you fight off the virus.
Normally, mast cells respond to a specific known trigger, and then stop when that trigger is removed.
For example, if you’re allergic to pollen, and you go outside in spring, mast cells are what make your eyes itchy, and your nose get congested.
Under normal circumstances, your mast cells will calm down and things will go back to normal, once that trigger is removed. For example, you go back inside, close the windows, and your allergy symptoms calm down.
However, in mast cell activation syndrome, the mast cells are overactive.
Instead of waiting for a “job” to do, like fighting off a virus or repairing an injury, the mast cells can become kind of jumpy, responding to even small things as though they’re dangerous.
Sometimes, there can be serious ramifications.
Essentially, you can have the symptoms of an allergic reaction, without there being anything present that you’re actually allergic to.
This diagnosis can be really scary at first, because you learn that you’re at risk for some pretty serious symptoms, and it’s less predictable than a “regular” allergy, because you may not know what triggered it.
Sharing my story
My goal is to keep it positive on this blog, while acknowledging the full reality of what people with mast cell disorders experience. Healing is definitely possible, and a big part of that is the mind-body connection. Yet it’s also important to address it thoroughly from the medical end, and make sure you’re evaluating all of the factors that could be playing a role.
On this blog I’ll be sharing both the things that worked for me, as well as what I’ve learned about mast cell conditions overall.
For more on mast cell activation syndrome (or MCAS for short) check out:
- How mast cell issues can get better over time
- How mast cell issues can get better, Part 2: Reducing inflammatory activity
- How mast cell issues can get better, Part 3: Changing the brain
Understanding mast cell activity:
- How I diagnosed
- Why I got a diagnosis, even though I don’t fit all of criteria for mast cell activation
- How to get an MCAS diagnosis