Intrinsic Physical Therapy

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Chronic Illness General Persistent Pain

The Increasing Prevalence of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) is becoming more and more common as we gain knowledge and spread awareness. It is now thought to affect up to 17% of the population. So, what is going on? Why is this condition on the rise?

MCAS is a highly misunderstood condition and due to that, often goes undiagnosed. It is important to remember that it is a new diagnosis and did not become a diagnostic code until 2016, meaning doctors were not able to officially diagnose the condition until that time. Conventional medicine often takes about a decade to catch up to newer research, which is one reason we are starting to see an uptick in diagnoses.

Another reason that we are hearing more about MCAS than ever before is due to the Covid-19 endemic. Research is showing that mast cells may be responsible for causing the hyper inflammation state seen during Covid-19 and this may be contributing to Long Covid. Anecdotal reports demonstrate that treatments for MCAS, such as the use of anti-histamines and a low histamine diet, have been positive for improving Long Covid. 

We are slowly, but surely putting the pieces together to connect complex, chronic conditions. We now see how MCAS is a key component in Lyme, mold/biotoxin illness, and post-viral syndromes, as well as found to be a factor in dysautonomia/POTS as well as mental health conditions. Anxiety is one of the most common symptoms of MCAS! Now that we have a better understanding of the brain/body connection and the role of the microbiome in mental health conditions, providers are digging deeper to identify the root cause of anxiety instead of just merely referring to a psychiatrist or dismissing their symptoms completely. 

I do think that the emergence of this syndrome will help highlight the importance of looking at the body from a systemic view point, rather than addressing each seemingly unrelated symptom, which often results in a person being dismissed, told they’re a hypochondriac, or referred to psych. 

The prevalence of MCAS is likely increasing not only because of better awareness and diagnostic practices, but because of the immense burden our immune system is under. Mast cell activation occurs when the immune system is overburdened by toxins and infections in combination with a persons unique biochemistry and genetics. This results in the perfect storm and mast cells, which are immune cells, activate and cause MCAS. 

Environment toxins continue to increase and although our bodies are amazing at keeping our systems running smoothly, some become overwhelmed more easily and have difficulty detoxifying. Our immune systems have been working hard in the midst of the pandemic and add excess stress on top of that along with your unique genetic make up and many of us are left feeling symptoms from fatigue to brain fog, headaches to breathing issues, GI dysfunction to skin reactions. 

With more knowledge comes better understanding and awareness, which leads us to better treatment and care. For those of us who have been dealing with these complex, chronic conditions for a while, we have been through a lot, but I think this improved awareness is going to benefit everyone and really make a difference in access to care. Most importantly, I hope people find understanding practitioners who make them feel validated in what they are feeling. 

Let me know what questions you have about MCAS and how I can help! I am here to make you feel less alone and more empowered as you navigate your chronic conditions. Schedule a free discovery call and we can chat more!

 

 

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