Many of us with mast cell disease notice that our symptoms, particularly the allergic, histamine-driven ones, can really increase overnight for some reason.
Sometimes it will get to the point of waking us up, feeling all itchy and congested. I also wake up with an insanely high core body temperature (no sweating, though) and a full bladder from all the cromolyn water I drank the day before (totally worth it though!).
Without the cromolyn I would wake up itchy, congested AND with acid reflux really bad. I used to almost never sleep through the night and I almost always had weird or bad dreams on top of everything else.
All that was my experience with this disease until I added Doxepin, a powerful antihistamine which seems to carry me through the night symptom-free now. It’s also an effective anti-depressant for MCAD patients and it definitely helps me with that, too.
Once I added it I found not only did my night symptoms go away completely but I didn’t have to run right to the medicine cabinet to take my H1 and H2 antihistamines as soon as I woke up. Of course that’s just my experience with mast cell disease. Yours may be vastly different.
Still, why was I being awoken at night like this to begin with? Why can’t my mast cells sleep when I do? Scientists did a study a few years ago and found the answer:
Researchers from Yamanashi University’s faculty of medicine have found that severe allergic symptoms at night and in the morning may be caused by high activation of genes in the mast cells during those hours.
The research group led by Atsuhito Nakao, a professor in the department of immunology at Yamanashi University, said if the activation of genes can be controlled by medicine, it would help control when patients come down with asthma and hay fever symptoms.
According to their study, the genes, called “clock genes,” drive the daily rhythm by inducing vibration inside the mast cells.
The research group said mast cells, triggered by increased activation of genes during the night, raise the level of allergic reactions to allergens such as pollen or tick dust and reduce the level during the day.
Development of symptoms such as nasal congestion or sneezing results from a reaction of histamine, a chemical released from mast cells while undergoing a reaction to allergens accumulated in the body, the researchers said.
They hope their findings can improve medical treatment for allergy sufferers.
Traditionally, medicine only tried to alleviate the effects of histamine, which affects the mucosa and respiratory organs.
“If we are able to control the activation of clock genes, we can also reduce the amount of histamine,” stressed Nakao.
So for those of you wondering why you feel better at different times of the day and night, this may answer some of that. As for me, I will continue taking my Doxepin each night because it seems to do the trick and helps the other H1 and H2 blockers I take to do their job while I sleep.
And I do sleep well now! It’s so nice to sleep through the night finally after years of nightly, mast cell-induced madness.