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The potential reason your Long Covid symptoms aren’t shifting

Research shows that Long Covid sufferers could find relief from symptoms by adopting the mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) treatment plan.

It is estimated that 17% of the population have MCAS and there is significant similarity between the two conditions. 

This would mean that for some battling Long Covid, they could be dealing with a flare up of undiagnosed MCAS symptoms, which can be controlled with an established treatment plan.

Leading research on the connection between the two, Dr Tina Peers, who founded the Menopause Consultancy and has MCAS herself, set up a Covid clinic in November 2020.

In 36 hours, it was fully booked until March 2021. 

She began research into MCAS in 2016 after her daughter became extremely unwell with the illness.

Dr Peers said: “Nobody could help us, the doctors had no idea.

“We saw six doctors, two of them were professors, and nobody had the faintest idea what was going on.

“I suspected that it was histamine intolerance, but there wasn’t very much on the internet about it.”

She explained how eventually they found a London-based gynaecologist who knew about MCAS and was able to help.

She added: “I can’t tell you what a relief it was to speak to this man.

“I was so worried about my daughter.

“She was so sick, I had to bring her home from her flat and nurse her at home.

“She couldn’t do anything.

“I kept thinking I’m missing something, she’s got leukaemia and she’s going to die.

“It was awful.”

Dr Peers has since been treating Long Covid patients in her clinic, finding the MCAS treatment plan make a significant difference. 

She explained: “I have found that 99% of the Long Covid patients have pre-existing undiagnosed and untreated MCAS.

“They are the same condition as far as I am concerned born out by the fact that the patients respond so well to the MCAS treatments.

“Long Covid has put MCAS on the map.”

The two conditions are both multi-systemic conditions, meaning a sufferer would experience a host of different symptoms. 

Symptoms of both conditions include: dysautonomia, migraines, brain fog, anxiety, acid reflux, stomach issues, joint pain, difficulty exercising alongside post-exertional malaise, insomnia and many others.

It is estimated that 17% of the population have MCAS – Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

Given the complexity of the symptoms, no two people are likely to experience MCAS or Long Covid in the same way.

For a person with MCAS, they may notice how their symptoms can vary over time, increasing and decreasing in severity due to various triggers.

Triggers can include bacterial infections, parasites, viral infections, stings and wounds, exposure to chemicals and for some, certain types of food, exercise, temperature changes and stress. 

This is because mast cells are known as acting as the first line of defence for the immune system, activating a protective response in the body.

In someone with MCAS, mast cells are too reactive being triggered too easily releasing cytokines that can affect multiple systems of the body.

Therefore, the main way to treat MCAS is to combat the triggers. 

For some, this involves removing the stressors and pacing, which is the standard rehabilitation method for Long Covid. 

This means stripping down one’s day into essential and non-essential activities, prioritising the essential and spreading out non-essential activities over a longer period of time to ensure greater rest time within each day.

Those with MCAS also can reduce the amount of histamine consumed through a low histamine diet and taking a number of supplements, alongside antihistamines – which were even being given to people struggling to overcome Covid at the start of the pandemic. 

Low histamine diets revolve around avoiding highly processed food, alcohol, smoked and cured meat, seafood, pickled foods, fermented foods, leftovers, canned fish or meat, berries (especially strawberries), citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes and vinegar. 

This list is not exhaustive.

The supplements work by inhibiting the inflammatory mediators mast cells release, which reduces the effects of the immune system’s overreaction to a given trigger. 

The best ones to take include quercetin (500mg daily, two to three times daily), curcumin (1-4g daily, divided in two doses), resveratrol (20mg, twice daily), diamine oxidase enzymes (2 capsules with each meal) and vitamin C (ideally a non-citrus source).

Drinking chamomile tea can also be helpful to lower the impact of overactive mast cells. 

In addition, a supplement worth taking for Long Covid or MCAS is augmented NAC – an antioxidant that reduces the viral and synthetic spike proteins produced in the body post Covid infection and vaccination that cause inflammation by triggering the mast cells.

While the MCAS treatment plan may not be the answer for every Long Covid sufferer, the fact it offers a potential route to recovery is a flicker of hope. 

It is no mystery that those with Long Covid suffer mentally as well as physically, being forced to manage often debilitating symptoms on a daily basis with no respite. 

Many Covid survivors are likely to be at greater risk of developing mental illness, where Researchers at the University of Oxford, Department of Psychiatry and NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre found 20% of those infected with the virus were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days.

A Reuters study also found that people with a pre-existing mental illness were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with Covid than those without. 

This research all points to the need for Long Covid treatment to be viewed holistically, taking into consideration the patient’s wider medical history to determine whether an inability to recover from Covid is in fact due to another undiagnosed condition or some other predisposing factors. 

Featured image by Kinga Howard on Unsplash

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