Our mission is to provide patient-centered care for allergies and asthma.

How Can I Help a Family Member With Mast Cell Disorder?

Immediate allergic reactions in the body are caused by mast cells. These blood cells that are part of the immune system release chemicals called mediators which, in turn, cause allergic symptoms. The condition known as mast cell activation syndrome, or MCAS, occurs when the body releases high levels of mast cells resulting in anaphylaxis or an allergic reaction that can include hives, swelling, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and severe diarrhea.

Mast Cells and Mast Cell Disease

Mast cells are responsible for many roles in the body, ranging from protecting from infections to allergic reactions. These immune system cells live throughout the body, including in the bone marrow, body tissues, the gastrointestinal tract, the skin, and the lining of airways.

Mast cell diseases, which include mastocytosis, mast cell activation syndrome, and hereditary alpha-tryptasemia, are quite rare. For instance, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimated only about 1 in 10,000 people have mastocytosis. People can be born with mast cell disease or the condition can develop during adulthood.

Symptoms of Mast Cell Disease

Because mast cells are immune system cells found throughout the body, they can impact people in a variety of ways. As a result, it is often difficult for doctors to diagnose mast cell diseases, and they can be triggered by a variety of different conditions, such as heat, cold, temperature change, friction, stress, exercise, insect and other animal bites or stings, environmental odors or perfumes, alcohol, contrast dyes, and certain foods or medicines.

Signs of mast cell disease can appear in different systems in the body and can include:

  • skin: itching, flushing, hives, sweating
  • eyes: itching, watering
  • nose: itching, running, sneezing
  • mouth and throat: itching, swelling in your tongue or lips, swelling in your throat that blocks air from getting to your lungs
  • lungs: trouble breathing, wheezing
  • heart and blood vessels: low blood pressure, rapid heart rate
  • stomach and intestines: cramping, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain
  • nervous system: headache, dizziness, confusion, extreme tiredness

A severe reaction can cause anaphylactic shock, in which a person may experience a rapid drop in blood pressure, a weak pulse, and narrowing of the airways. Anaphylactic shock requires emergency medical treatment.

Mast Cell Disease Diagnoses and Treatment

If someone suspects they have a mast cell disease, they should seek out an allergist or immunologist who may do blood tests, including serum tryptase, or tissue tests to determine an accurate diagnosis.

Medications that may be used in treatment include:

  • H1 and H2 antihistamines
  • Mast cell stabilizers (cromolyn sodium, ketotifen)
  • Leukotriene inhibitors such as montelukast
  • Aspirin (under direct physician’s supervision)

Aggressive mast cell diseases may require treatment with chemotherapy.

While researchers don’t yet know what exactly causes MCAS, the evidence does point to a strong genetic link. One study found 74% of those with MCAS who participated in the research had a first-degree relative with MCAS.

If you are seeking treatment for asthma or allergies, including mast cell disorder, Columbia Allergy is here to help. Our providers take a patient-focused approach that views every person as an individual with unique challenges and goals. Contact us at any of our convenient locations in California, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington to learn more about how we can help.

This is not medical advice. If you’re concerned that you may have allergies or asthma, please consult a medical professional.

Do You Suffer From Allergies?

Don’t let allergies run your life. Talk to a Columbia Allergy clinic today to find relief.

Monica H.
“First time at allergy specialist they really care about my kids lifestyle they care more about their patients that their wallet. Now days that's a keeper. ”
David W.
“Adam and the staff were great at considering my concerns, explaining my results and listening to my questions. Plus everyone was on time and things moved swiftly. ”
Prashant S.
“Absolutely exceptional. The doctor, team and facilities are the best you could ask for. We have never felt more comfortable and safe. With the approach we have taken with our son and has made the whole process so much easier. You guys makes difference in people’s lives”
Noah J.
“Nothing worse than worrying about every cookie and ice cream snack out there that sends us to the ER. Dr.Jain and Dr. Gandhe who are the best. Their expertise and kindness have given us back both dessert and peace of mind. I don't know which one is more appreciated. ”
Hana L.
"Dr.Gandhe always puts my son at ease before treatment. She talks to him directly and in an age appropriate way. My son looks forward to visiting her and the other staff. When I have questions about treatment she responds clearly and, during after hours, Dr. Gandhe responds very quickly. We feel well cared for."
Amy M.
"Dr. Gandhe gives us excellent personalized treatment for my son’s peanut and tree nut allergy. She has a heart for kids with allergies and I feel very safe under her care. My son has already made great progress with his tree nut allergy"
Nikko Y.
"Best Office Ever!"
Georgia B.
"One of the best doctors + staff I have ever met. The care and professionalism is out of this world! We feel comforted and safe at our visit "
Pierre
"Dr. Jain is very kind and friendly as well as the staff "
Graciela R.
"Dr.Jain and Melissa Hutton PA-C are the best allergy providers I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. The entire staff is kind and helpful. My allergy care is comprehensive and I never feel rushed through an appointment-"
Miko
"Best decision we have made in my son’s life so far"
Merritt F.
"We are very confident with Dr. Jain’s treatment plans and recommendations. The staff at the Fremont office is amazing"
Cherylyn V.
"Amazing and awesome team for scary and life-threatening allergies"
Manalie J.
"Dr.Gandhe is very patient, explains everything in great detail and answered all of our questions. It helped to ease out our Anxiety about OIT"
Walter M.
"Dr. Gandhe is great, thoughtful, and a caring provider. All staff is fantastic as well!"
Sarah S.
"We are likely (5 stars) to recommend Dr. Jain to friends and family. Our experience here has been so positive and supportive. It is great clinic and has given us great hopes in treating our son"
Khushi P.
"Extremely great experience. Truly God sent figures. Dr. Jain and Melissa are such wonderful and humble doctors, I have ever met. Thank You. Dr Jain and the entire staff for being with us through the journey. I will recommend him to all the people that I know with allergies
Amrita M.
"Dr. Gandhe has been more than a blessing for us. We love her! She’s so great at talking explaining and planning everything. Her treatment has been spot on and I am so thankful we found you. We love all the nurses, they are so patient and loving"
Translate »