Trigger avoidance is one of the things we are advised to practice by our mast cell specialists. That means figuring out what they are first and that’s much easier said than done.
Probably because there are so many potential mast cell degranulation triggers to choose from. Triggers like:
- specific foods and drinks (especially alcohol, and high-histamine content foods)
- temperature extremes
- airborne smells including perfumes or smoke
- exercise or exertion
- emotional stress
- hormonal changes, particularly during adolescence, pregnancy and women’s menstrual cycles
Those are but a few and our triggers can change over time, too.
We really are “allergic to the world” with this disease. Some of us can function pretty well out there by taking medicines and avoiding as many triggers as possible while some of us are home bound, like me, until we get a better grip on our (over)reactions and suss out all of our own personal MCAS triggers.
AND THEN OMG AVOID THEM AT ALL COSTS!!!!
That’s the tricky part, I’m finding. I guess I was born with a rebel’s heart because I seem to continually defy the universal directive to avoid all of my known triggers by doing things like planting more pollen-filled flowers all around my house and *gasp* dying my hair.
In my defense, my yard is boring otherwise and my hair is finally super healthy again (yay!) but I am 45 years old and I’m getting gray hairs now (!) so I had to do something. I’ve already broken half of my nails since I can’t polish them anymore so they are just nubs now (boo!) and I can’t get any sun so I am pasty white.
I can’t let this take any more of my feminine dignity!
Plus, when I get triggered by chemicals or strong odors/scents it’s not nearly as bad as when it’s something I’ve eaten. It usually clears up within a few minutes or hours if I’ve inhaled it, whereas it can take up to a week or more when my intestines are inflamed and barely functioning and my trigger is slowly digesting and festering.
It’s the absolute worst when it’s food!!
At least I have control over what I eat and while my diet is very limited now, I do have my food triggers pretty well worked out. I just hope they don’t change on me, as I’ve read that can happen! I’ve read a lot can happen, actually, so I try not to stress too much about it and do what I can to control things like what’s on my plate right now, today, and hope for the best.
I try to keep the intentional triggerings to a minimum so I don’t make myself sick on purpose too often because I know it does long term damage and that’s bad. When it comes to triggers like pollen, though, there’s really not much I can do except vacuum a lot, keep the doors and windows closed tight and run the cooler with the new HEPA air filtration system. We also have individual room air filtration units, so I run those, too.
They do seem to be helping, too! My symptoms get better as soon as I come back in.
I also started checking the daily pollen count/allergy impact count like the one at Zyrtec’s website just to see if it’s safe to even wander outside.
I really hate watching the entire world come to life outside my window as I sit here inside, hiding like a scared mouse. I’m just SO sick of being sick, but it’s my reality (for now!) so I have to pull up my big girl pants and deal with it. I have hope that in time I can get a better grip on things so I won’t be so reactive.
For now I am on a seemingly unending trigger scavenger hunt.