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Mast Cell Disorder Diagnosis and Preliminary Treatments at UPMC in South Central Pa.

If you have symptoms of a mast cell disorder, the immunology specialists at UPMC Pinnacle offer initial diagnostic evaluation. Depending on the severity and complexity of each confirmed case patients will be further referred to the regional specialized Mast Cell Disorders Centers. Services offered as a component of initial diagnosis:

Diagnostic Tests for Mast Cell Disorders

  • Blood tests. Blood tests can detect high levels of mast cells or mast cell mediators, such as histamines, in your blood and may be used to diagnose mast cell disorders. Urine tests.
  • Urine tests can detect abnormal levels of mast cell mediators. 

What are mast cell disorders?

Mast cells are white blood cells that are part of your immune system. Mast cells release mast cell mediators, such as histamine, which help your body to heal after injury or infection, or get rid of a substance that is causing an allergic reaction. Mast cell disorders include:

  • Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS). MCAS occurs when you have a normal amount of mast cells, but your mast cells are too responsive.
  • Mastocytosis. Mastocytosis occurs when your body makes too many mast cells.
  • Rare mast cell disorders, such as mast cell leukemia and mast cell sarcoma.

Mast cell disorders can be triggered by insect bites, foods, medications, anxiety, temperature changes, infections, fatigue, pain, odors, and hormonal changes. However, it can be difficult to determine what triggers lead to flare-ups.

What are the symptoms of mast cell disorders?

The symptoms of mast cell disorders can affect different parts of your body, including your skin, eyes, nose, mouth, throat, lungs, heart, blood vessels, digestive tract, and nervous system. Mast cell disorders may cause symptoms including:

  • Flushed skin
  • Sweating
  • Hives
  • Swelling of your throat, tongue, or lips
  • Itching
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing

Some people with mast cell disorders may experience anaphylaxis, which can occur within minutes of exposure to a trigger and is potentially life-threatening. Anaphylaxis causes dizziness, a sharp drop in blood pressure and, in some cases, loss of consciousness, shock, or cardiac arrest. Anaphylaxis is treated with an epinephrine injection, followed by emergency medical care.

Who is at risk for mast cell disorders?

Researchers aren’t sure what causes mast cell disorders. However, if you have a family history of a mast cell disorder, it may put you at a higher risk of developing the condition.

How can I prevent mast cell disorders?

There is nothing you can do to prevent mast cell disorders. However, if you are diagnosed with a mast cell disorder, you may be able to reduce your risk of experiencing a serious reaction by avoiding triggers and taking your medication as directed.



UPMC Allergy and Immunology
Located at UPMC Outpatient Center
21 Waterford Drive
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050

Phone: 717-988-9180
Fax: 717-775-5723


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Phone: 717-988-9180


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