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What are Mast Cells and how do they relate to IC?

Mast cells are a type of white blood cell found throughout your entire body; they are part of your immune system, helping to fight infection and defend against foreign contaminants. When you get a scrape or wound, mast cells arrive, release histamines, create helpful inflammation, and allow the wound to begin healing. Mast cells are incredibly important to the human body, if we don’t have enough of them we cannot fight infection.

Unfortunately, sometimes the human body has mast cells that do not work properly. Common mast cell problems are asthma, eczema, and allergies. In these situations the mast cells show up when they are not needed, release histamines, and create an asthma attack or an eczema rash on the skin. Antihistamines work to help control the mast cells’ release of histamines– if histamines aren’t released, allergic reactions are suppressed. Antihistamines can be over-the-counter or prescription based and help many people year-round.

Mast cells are also found inside your bladder. In the case of Interstitial Cystitis, these mast cells release histamines and cause inflammation, creating a host of symptoms: urinary urgency, frequency, burning, and pain. Oftentimes, taking an antihistamine helps control the mast cells and can alleviate some of the symptoms. The NIH (National Institute of Health) says that 50% of people with Interstitial Cystitis also have allergies, so finding the right antihistamine is important. And although antihistamines are not a cure for IC, they can certainly help.

Dr. Davis is familiar with many different types of antihistamines and can help you find the right one.

Posted in Resources, Symptoms

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