10 Signs You Have Histamine Intolerance

Do you have a really odd mix of symptoms? Wondering whether you might have histamine intolerance or a mast cell disorder? While it’s certainly true that histamine issues manifest differently from person to person, there are certain signs of histamine issues that show up time and time again. Here are 10 signs to watch for.


Skin issues are probably one of the most common ways people discover they have histamine issues. Hives after eating too many strawberries or other high histamine foods are a quick indicator that histamine levels are high. Flushing is another common symptom — say, after a glass of wine. A histamine response can be either acute or chronic. Dealing with chronic itching, skin lesions or sores (mastocytosis), overreaction to insect bites, and slow healing can be some chronic skin-related histamine symptoms.


Any type of inflammation can potentially have a histamine connection. This can show up in the form of redness and swelling (with or without pain) and may show up as an enlarged liver or spleen, or liver/spleen/bladder/kidney pain that just doesn’t seem to go away.  The 5 classical signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. When these occur together, you can be pretty sure you’re dealing with inflammation.


Histamine intolerance can also cause weird and random cardiovascular symptoms. You could have tachycardia (racing heart), arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), palpitations, sudden drops in blood pressure, and even chest pain. You may also find you have unexplained bruises on your body and bleed easily. Learn more about how histamine affects your heart here.


Histamine can also make it difficult for your body to self-regulate and stay in a state of homeostasis. This can lead to episodes of low body temperature, overheating with severe sweating, and an overall sensitivity to heat and cold. Read more about how histamine affects body temperature on this post.


Thanks to the chronic inflammation that goes with histamine intolerance, you may also deal with chronic pain. This could come in the form of bone or joint pain, general all-over body pain, specific tissue pain, headaches, and migraines. Here are some histamine migraine fixes and here’s a recipe for a painkiller in a glass.


Do you deal with gluten intolerance? Are you sensitive to scented candles, perfume, gasoline? Those of us with histamine intolerance don’t do well with a lot of foods or scents/odors. It’s as though anything that stimulates our senses puts us over the top. You can have sensitivities that impact any or all of the five senses: sensitivity to sunlight (eyes), scents (nose), sounds (ears), foods or medications (mouth), and even overreaction to touch. You might swell up like crazy in reaction to an insect bite/sting, and even go into anaphylaxis. You may have an intolerance to medications and even have weird, unexplained reactions to pharmaceutical drugs. You can find a selection of histamine lists here.


This is a big one. The ways histamine can affect your digestive system are seemingly endless: gastrointestinal pain, bloating, persistent diarrhea, chronic constipation, GERD/acid reflux, nausea, vomiting, mouth sores/canker sores, IBS, leaky gut, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, malabsorption contributing to vitamin and mineral deficiencies (for example, iron deficiency or B12 deficiency — anemia), and more. Here are 4 Top Gut Histamine Digestion Tips.


Complete exhaustion. Persistent fatigue, unexplained weakness, shortness of breath, fainting… All these can accompany histamine intolerance and can make it difficult to exercise or even just walk up one flight of stairs. Brain fatigue can also go along with histamine issues causing a general feeling of cognitive impairment/brain fog.


Some of the weirdest symptoms of histamine intolerance have a nerve connection. You could have numbness or tingling in your face, hands, or feet. Your skin may feel like it’s literally on fire. You could have neuropathic pain without being a diabetic. You might have unexplained anxiety… or all these other symptoms could cause you anxiety!


Histamine can really mess with your hormones. Thyroid issues are common. Read this post to find out about the oxalic acid connection. Estrogen dominance plays a huge role in histamine issues. Women may have difficult periods with lots of pain and bleeding. Menopause may even bring on histamine intolerance.


You could have immune system problems, enlarged lymph nodes, recurrent infections, vertigo, tinnitus or hearing problems, eye problems, hair loss…  The list behind this post comes from Mastocytosis Canada’s website. You can also check out http://www.mastcellmaster.com for more information.


Mast Cell Activation Syndrome

What is Mast Cell Activation Syndrome?
Mast cells, a type of blood cell, play an important role in the body’s immune system. They reside in all body tissues and form part of the body’s initial defense system. Mast cells react to foreign bodies and injury by releasing a variety of potent chemical mediators, such as histamine, when activated. In a healthy person these chemicals will act beneficially to protect and heal the body, but in a person with MCAS these same chemicals are inappropriately triggered and released and have a negative effect on the body. Among the triggers are a variety of different foods, exercise, chemicals, fragrances and stress. Many sufferers struggle to identify their triggers and continue to discover new triggers for many years after diagnosis.

MCAS forms part of a spectrum of mast cell disorders involving proliferation and/or excessive sensitivity of mast cells, it has been identified since 2007. It features inappropriate mast cell activation with little or no increase in the number of mast cells, unlike in Mastocytosis*. MCAS causes a wide range of unpleasant, sometimes debilitating, symptoms in any of the different systems of the body, frequently affecting several systems at the same time. The onset of MCAS is often sudden, affecting both children and adults, sometimes in family groups, mimicking many other conditions and presenting a wide-range of different symptoms that can be baffling for both the patient and their physician. Often there are no obvious clinical signs since MCAS confounds the anatomy-based structure underpinning the traditional diagnostic approach. Very often Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is hiding in plain sight.

MCAS presents through a wide range of symptoms in multiple body systems, ranging from digestive discomfort to chronic pain, mental health issues and anaphylaxis.

Some key aspects of MCAS are:

  • The symptoms impact more than one body system.
  • People often experience a dramatic step change in symptoms after, perhaps, years of mild symptoms.
  • The symptoms are often episodic or cyclic and wax and wane with varying degrees of intensity, sometimes worsening over time.
  • There is often histamine involvement and will therefore include typical allergy symptoms such as itching, rashes, swelling, inflammation and vomiting.
  • The triggers are many and varied some easily recognized some not, among them environmental chemicals, foodstuffs, heat, cold and exercise.
  • MCAS can present simultaneously in patients who have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) a connective tissue disorder, and/or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS).

The available treatments for MCAS stabilize the mast cells and mitigate the effects of the chemicals they release, e.g. anti-histamines and mast cell stabilizers. Avoiding triggers is also a key part in coping with this illness. See Support and Resources for publications.

There is a wide range in the variety of patients’ response to treatment. It can often take some time to work out what the best medication and dosage are. An added complication is that many patients suffer adverse reactions to the drugs themselves or to the fillers, colouring and preservatives. With a trial and error approach many patients are successful in moderating their symptoms although quality of life can still be affected.