Having been diagnosed with both Histamine Intolerance (HIT) and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) it’s often hard to know when I have a symptom flare who the culprit is. Acute reactions are easy – if I take a drug and 20 minutes later get a whoosh in my head, my heart starts hammering and my face goes beetroot red my mast cells are having a hissy fit, and if the same thing happens 5 minutes after I’ve eaten I know it’s my HIT at play, but the waters become muddier when I feel insidiously and chronically unwell as is the case at the moment.
I’ve talked about this before, but for the benefit of people new to my blog these are the signs that my histamine levels are high:
- Feeling exhausted but wired and unable to relax.
- Insomnia, either difficulty getting off to sleep or waking during the night – usually around 2 or 3am.
- Increased urination, especially having to get up during the night to pee.
- Sluggish bowel. I usually poop every morning after breakfast but this becomes every other day and at random times, even during the night.
- Flushing and feeling hot after eating.
- Ligaments which injure super easily and refuse to heal.
- Back pain which is muscular in nature.
- Muscle spasms, particularly in the gut.
- Nausea without vomiting.
- Itchy skin and scalp.
- Sore throat.
- Oesophageal spasms which cause retching.
- Sneezing, particularly on waking.
- Increased or decreased energy.
- Increased or decreased appetite.
- And my old friend hives.
I am currently having one such flare of symptoms and looking back over the past couple of months I suppose I can see why.
- My cleaner has been off so I’ve been doing way more in the house than normal.
- My dog walker was also off for 2 weeks so I’ve had to take Bertie out more.
- I split my lip open and had stitches. There’s the shock of the event, the pain, the physical trauma and the fact my poorly immune system had to rally into action.
- I subluxed my thumb joint which has led to ligament trauma, inflammation and ongoing pain.
- I have a throat infection.
- I had to have an emergency dental visit yesterday due to acute inflammation of one of my wisdom teeth.
- And of course all the usual peri-menopause and endometriosis related gubbins.
It’s no surprise I’m not feeling great.
It all starts a vicious cycle though. I am way too exhausted to cook, and feel nauseous much of the time, so end up eating a less than low histamine and less than ideal diet. Add to this raging hormones and ridiculous food cravings and I know my ingested histamine is high.
Wounds and trauma stimulate mast cells, which release inflammatory and other mediators, which stimulate mast cells, which release inflammatory and other mediators, which stimulate mast cells………… In a healthy person this cycle would happen once and then stop, whereas in MCAS patients the hand-brake appears to be faulty and we just keep rolling down the hill.
Having to do more physical activity than I know is good for me has made me really tired, but due to my high histamine levels I have insomnia and am getting up in the night to pee often several times. This makes me even more exhausted and I gradually get more and more run down and open to opportunistic viruses and infections.
It’s incredibly hard to break the cycle. I know I should probably have some enforced bed rest, but when your histamine levels are high and you feel really wired it’s soooo hard to just lie there doing nothing! But it does usually help, so now my cleaner is (hopefully) back and my dog walker has returned from her hols I will have to force myself to chill, use my super powers to resist my hormone-related food cravings and give my immune system a chance to switch off.