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Mast Cell Activation Syndrome News: Woman Allergic To Almost Everything – Including Her Husband’s Scent

Update Date: Jan 17, 2017 09:10 AM EST

A woman suffering from Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), a rare disorder of the immune system, is allergic to almost everything including her husband's scent. She cannot kiss him or even stay in the same room with him.

Johanna Watkins lives alone in her room with sealed windows and doors. Air filters are installed to purify the air inside. She is married to Scott, but they cannot be together in one room due to her allergic reaction to him.

Johanna is suffering from a severe form of MCAS. She is virtually allergic to everything; anything could potentially trigger a life-threatening anaphylactic attack. Her reactions include migraine, food allergies that cause stomach distension and stretch marks, non-functioning bowels, sensitivity to sunlight and almost all odours and food. Surgery is out of the question as she is also allergic to common pill casings and pain relief medication.

MCAS is a condition wherein the cells that are supposed to protect the body from outside threats mutate and starts attacking the body instead. Inappropriate and excessive release of chemical mediators results in cardiovascular, dermatological, gastrointestinal, neurological and respiratory problems.

It was last year when the couple realized the severity of her MCAS condition. When Scott is in the same room with Johanna, she would start feeling worse and her daily symptoms aggravated.

Johanna does not respond to the usual treatment and medication for MCAS patients. There are 15 different food and spices that she can tolerate like beef stew, organic celery, carrot, parsnip, organic lamb, turmeric, cinnamon and cucumber. She also does not have an allergic reaction to her siblings who are taking care of her.

MCAS has no known cause but experts said it could be hereditary.  Initially, the symptoms are mild but stressful life events can cause exacerbation of allergic reaction. The World Health Organization has not yet published diagnostic criteria, making MCAS difficult to identify.

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