Mastocytosis causesa wide range of symptoms, whichcan vary depending on the type of mastocytosis you have.

Cutaneous mastocytosis

Skin lesionsare a characteristic of cutaneous mastocytosis. Types of lesions known to occur in cutaneous mastocytosis include:

  • small areas of skin that change colour (macules)
  • small firm, raised bumps (papules)
  • larger raised, red bumps (nodules)
  • large raised areas of skinnoticeable to the touch (plaques)
  • Blisters which mainly affect young children with mastocytomas (tumours consisting of mast cells)or diffuse cutaneous mastocytosis (a rare form of cutaneous mastocytosis )

Lesions usually develop on the trunk rather than the head, neck and limbs.

The lesions, known as urticaria pigmentosa,are usually yellow-tan to reddish-brown in colour, and can range from 1mm to several centimetres in size.

The number of lesions that develop on the skin can vary widely. For example, it's possible for only one lesion to develop, or more than 1,000.

Stroking the affectedareas of skin can make it swollen, itchy and red over the lesion.

Systemic mastocytosis

If you have systemic mastocytosis, you may develop sudden episodes of symptoms that last for around 15-30 minutes. However, many people don't have any problems.

The most common symptoms experienced during an episode are:

  • hot flushingdescribed as a dry feeling of heat, rather than the sort of wet heat you experience when sweating
  • a forceful or rapid heartbeat (heart palpitations)
  • dizziness (lightheadedness)

Less common symptoms during anepisode include:

  • headache
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • nausea
  • diarrhoea

Once the episode has passed you'll probably feel sluggish (lethargic) for several hours.

The episodesare caused by the mast cells suddenly releasing excessive amounts of histamine, usually after you're exposed to certain triggers.

Triggers known to causeepisodes include:

  • physical factorssuch as heat, overheating, cold, fatigue and physical exertion
  • emotional factorssuch as stress and excitement
  • insect bites or stings such as flea bites or a wasp sting
  • infectionsuch as the cold or flu
  • alcohol
  • certain medications such as ibuprofen , aspirin and antibiotics
  • certain foodssuch as cheese, shellfish and spices

Abnormal mast cells in your bone marrow and organs can also cause related symptoms, including:

  • stomach pain caused by peptic ulcers
  • loss of appetite
  • joint pain
  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • changes in mental statesuch as confusion, irritability, poor attention span and impaired memory
  • urinary symptomssuch as needing to pass urine frequently or pain when urinating

In more severe cases of mastocytosis, the following symptoms may occur:

  • weight loss
  • swelling of the lymph nodes
  • swelling of the liverwhich can cause jaundice and make you feel lethargic
  • swelling of the spleen which can cause tummy (abdominal) and shoulder pain

Low blood pressure (hypotension)

Some people with severe symptoms experience a sudden fall inblood pressure during an attack.

Low blood pressure (hypotension) can trigger a number of associated symptoms, such as:

  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • blurred vision
  • confusion
  • general weakness

Severe allergic reaction

If you have systemic mastocytosis or extensive cutaneous mastocytosis, your risk of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) is increased.

It's important to look out for the initial symptoms of anaphylaxis, which include:

  • itchy skin or a raised, red skin rash
  • swollen eyes, lips, hands and feet
  • feeling lightheaded or faint
  • narrowing of the airways, which can cause wheezing and breathing difficulties
  • abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting

Dial 999immediately and ask for anambulance if you think you or someone else is experiencing symptoms of anaphylaxis.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 20 Jul 2016