• Wednesday, March 29, 2023


US woman can only consume nine foods due to Mast Cell Activation Syndrome – All about the disease

MCAS can occur as a standalone condition or in conjunction with other conditions like anaphylaxis, mastocytosis, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Jenna Gestetner – Image Credit: Instagram

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

Jenna Gestetner, a woman in the US, is limited to a diet of only nine foods due to her severe immunological condition causing hundreds of food allergies. According to an Independent report, Jenna has been struggling with intense symptoms such as cramping, bloating, nausea, and fatigue from food reactions since childhood.

To manage her condition, she has been following a strict elimination diet by avoiding foods that trigger her symptoms. Therefore, Jenna’s current diet is limited to turkey, mahi mahi which is a warm water fish, cucumber, green beans, zucchini, olive oil, salt, lime, and glucose supplements.

She recently shared a post on Instagram and captioned it, “I can only eat nine foods, so this is what it is like for me to go grocery shopping with so many allergies,” The Indian Express reports.

The report states that Jenna received a confirmed diagnosis of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) in March 2021 after visiting a specialist following a long journey across the US.

The diagnosis was supposedly confirmed through a series of blood and urine tests.

What is MCAS?

MCAS is a condition characterised by excessive release of an allergen-like substance from mast cells in the body, resulting in allergy-like symptoms.

According to an earlier report in Healthline, mast cells are a component of the immune system found in various areas of the body, including bone marrow and near blood vessels.

Upon exposure to allergens such as food, medication, or insect venom to which a person is allergic, mast cells reportedly release chemical mediators that result in typical allergy symptoms such as itching, mucus production, and inflammation.


The symptoms of mast cell activation typically impact the skin, nervous system, heart, and gastrointestinal tract.

The severity of symptoms can vary depending on the number of mediators released, with some reactions being mild while others can be life-threatening.

Symptoms may include the following:

• Skin: itching, redness, hives, sweating, swelling, rash

• Eyes: itching, watering, redness

• Nose: itching, runny

• Mouth and Throat: itching, swelling of tongue or lips, throat swelling

• Lungs: difficulty breathing, wheezing

• Heart and Blood Vessels: low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat

• Stomach and Intestines: cramping, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain

• Nervous System: headache, confusion, fatigue

In serious instances, anaphylactic shock may occur which necessitates immediate medical attention and the symptoms may include rapid decrease in blood pressure, dizziness, weak heartbeat, difficulty breathing or shallow and fast breathing, confusion and unconsciousness.

“MCAS can occur as a standalone condition or in conjunction with other conditions like anaphylaxis, mastocytosis, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Diagnosis of MCAS involves a thorough medical evaluation, a patient history, and laboratory tests to measure mast cell mediator levels,” Dr Anish Anand, consultant, internal medicine, Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad, India, told The Indian Express.

Diagnosis & treatment

Speaking about this “extremely rare condition” that supposedly affects less than one per cent of the population, Dr Meghana Potluri, consultant – allergy and immunology, Manipal Hospital, Varthur, Bangalore, India is quoted as saying, “For diagnosis, it is important to know the proper history and serum tryptase levels. Besides that, the Kit d816v test is also required to be tested.

“In some cases, bone marrow biopsy is also essential. As there is no cure for it, the only available treatment for this illness is symptomatic treatment.”

Treatment options for symptoms include anti-histamines, steroids, drugs such as Montelukast, and Omalizumab, Dr Potluri said. Additionally, she suggests that avoiding trigger foods can also be effective.

Emphasising that there is no cure for MCAS, Dr Shrey Srivastav, MD Internal Medicine at Sharda Hospital, Noida, India, suggests the following measures to help manage it:

• Adopting a low histamine diet

• Avoiding MCAS triggers (non-food items)

• Improving gut health

• Stabilizing mast cell mediator release

• Taking H1 and H2 blockers every 12 hours

• Blocking and reducing night-time histamine release

• Treating current infections

• Incorporating helpful nutrients

• Reducing stress levels


Eastern Eye

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