21-year-old Brynn Duncan has spent much of her life in a virtual bubble. The young woman from South Carolina has a rare disease that leaves her vulnerable to suffering potentially lethal reactions to a seemingly endless list of allergens. For years, she got sicker and sicker, experiencing problems with an ever-increasing list of foods, and doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
Finally, as she writes on her blog Brynn’s Bubble, “After seven years of searching for answers, I was diagnosed with Mast Cell Disease and POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) in 2012.”
Mast Cell Disease, or mastocytosis, is a rare condition that occurs when the body produces too many mast cells, a type of cell essential to the functioning of the immune system. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases explains that the symptoms can include typical allergic responses such as itching, flushing, abdominal cramping, and in serious cases, shock. In addition, patients may experience muscle and bone pain, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and ulcers.