Aug 1, 2023
On today’s show, we are talking about the complex world of multiple chronic illnesses once again with Anna Cooper. Anna is a 35-year-old female who has an independent spirit inside of a body that holds an alphabet of health conditions. Anna worked as a case manager for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, where she loved to advocate for her clients. When her health forced her to take a step back from working, things have been rough as she looks for a new way to advocate for herself and for others.
The Difficult illness we will discuss today is Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or MCAS. According to the National Institute of Health: Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) causes a person to have repeated severe allergy symptoms affecting several body systems. In MCAS, mast cells mistakenly release too many chemical agents, resulting in symptoms in the skin, gastrointestinal tract, heart, respiratory, and neurologic systems. Mast cells are present throughout most of our bodies and secrete different chemicals during allergic reactions. Symptoms include episodes of abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, flushing, itching, wheezing, coughing, lightheadedness and rapid pulse and low blood pressure. Symptoms can start at any age, but usually begin in adulthood. The cause of MCAS is unknown. Diagnosis is based on the symptoms, clinical exam, and specific laboratory testing. Other conditions may need to be excluded before MCAS can be diagnosed.