In our last blog we took a close look at asthma, one of the most common lung conditions. Histamine receptors in the lungs mediate broncho-constriction, vaso-constriction and dilation, vascular leakage, mucus secretion and they activate sensory nerves (1).
It should come as no surprise that other lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) (2) also share mast cell involvement.
COPD is a group of diseases including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, throat clearing and shortness of breath. Smoking is a major risk factor, but there is also a genetic variation that has to be passed on from both parents to be acquired.
IPF is a disease that is characterized by scarring that makes it hard to take a deep breath. The scar tissue makes it hard to get oxygen into the lungs. Rather than directly affecting the lungs, it involves the interstitial tissue around and between the air sacs.
Symptoms include coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath with simple activity. It can feel like breathing is such a chore!
Other symptoms can include loss of appetite, leg swelling, joint and muscle aches, fatigue and widening or clubbing of fingertips. (see images here)
Similar to asthma, loss of epithelial barrier function is also seen with COPD and IPF.
What the research doesn’t tell us is what came first – loss of barrier function, or mast cell involvement. Regardless of how it started, knowing that both factors are part of these conditions allows for a targeted dietary approach.
Keep your eyes open for next week’s blog where we feature one of our recipes from the upcoming book Histamine Haven that will support lung health.