Coronavirus Facts and Tips for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance

Immune Support Facts and Tips for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance

People with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance have been asking me about the current Coronavirus outbreak. I want to provide you with some clear, calm information.

I’ve been doing quite a lot of research on this latest Coronavirus. I’ve been noticing that the majority of people are either panicking or in denial.

My goal here is to provide a rational, reasonable approach. And to give you some action steps you can take.

This isn’t a doomsday situation. I’m also not going to say everything is fine.

There is a huge amount of misinformation out there. And most news sources make more money with scare tactics.

I’m going to cover what we know at this point from reliable, scientific sources.

NOTE: These stats are changing daily. I’ll address updates in the comments.

Facts you need to know about COVID-19 Coronavirus if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance

Coronavirus describes a class of viruses. Many cold viruses are coronaviruses. So coronaviruses aren’t new. And they aren’t rare. SARS and MERS are examples of more serious types of Coronavirus. But SARS and MERS aren’t very contagious between people.

The strain spreading now is being called COVID-19. This stands for Corona Virus Disease 2019. I’m going to refer to it as Coronavirus below for simplicity.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 Coronavirus?

The most common symptoms are fever and cough. About 33% of people have shortness of breath. And some of the less common symptoms are; muscle aches, headaches, confusion, chest pain, and diarrhea.

It presents similar to flu. But there are some differences. Flu usually starts suddenly. While COVID-19 Coronavirus may have a longer incubation period. This means it can take several days from exposure to when you have symptoms.

Flu symptoms commonly include muscle aches. This is much less common in the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

Most cases are mild and don’t need treatment. If you have a high fever and a cough, you’ll want to seek treatment. If you have trouble breathing, be sure to get help quickly.

How does COVID-19 Coronavirus spread?

COVID-19 Coronavirus spreads from person-to person like colds and the flu. These virus spread from close contact (less than 6 feet) with an infected person.

It may also be possible for it to spread by coming into contact with respiratory droplets or mucous from an infected person. Then you transfer the viruses in the droplets or mucous to your nose, mouth, or inhale into your lungs.

Sounds gross? This is how we get sick all the time. And we don’t even think about it.

You touch the shopping cart handle someone sneezed on. You then rub your eyes, touch your nose. Or you grab a mint and pop it into your mouth after touching the cart.

Or you sit near someone infected and breathe the same air.

Keep reading – in the next section. I’m sharing with you a lot of tips how to avoid these germs.

What is the real death rate?

No one knows the death rate of COVID-19 Coronavirus yet. The media has been quoting death rates of around 4% or more. The problem is the study quoted was done on hospitalized patients.

Those quotes didn’t take into account the death rate of the general population. This inflates the real death rate.

I’ve seen rampant misinformation from media sources taking research statistics out of context. This is a really unethical reporting practice.

Contagion Outbreak expert Amesh Adalja, MD., the most reasonable and likely death rate is around .7% to 1%. This would be for the general population.

But the World Heath Organization is now reporting 3.4%. So we just don’t know right now.

For comparison, the death rate from the flu in the US changes year to year. This is because there are different strains each year. The average is about one-tenth of a percent of all cases. This is .1%. Sometimes it is higher depending on the flu strain.

What’s the big deal? How is it different from the flu?

Some people think this is just another cold or flu. So what gives?

The bigger problems may be:

  1. The death rate is likely higher than the flu. It is extremely unlikely the death rate is as high as 4.5%. It is likely between .7% and 3.4%. But this is still anywhere from 7 to 34 times higher than most strains of the flu.
  2. Most cases of COVID-19 Coronavirus are mild. But those with underlying health issues may have more severe complications. This includes those with inflammatory conditions. Both Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance are types of inflammatory conditions. It also includes people with lung problems, heart issues, and diabetes.
  3. COVID-19 Coronavirus is likely 2 to 3 times more contagious than the flu. This may not seem like a lot. But viruses spread exponentially. So, it can spread much faster than the flu. It has been spreading fairly rapidly already.

If you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance, you always need to be more careful about not getting sick. And you really want to avoid COVID-19 Coronavirus if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.

Why is this? There is a class of inflammatory immune mast cell proteins called cytokines. Mast cells and other immune cells create cytokines.

The breathing complications in COVID-19 Coronavirus are due to cytokines raging out of control in the lungs. This makes those with inflammatory immune conditions like Mast Cell Activation Syndrome more at risk for complications.

Given the complications of COVID-19 Coronavirus in inflammatory conditions, it definitely makes sense to avoid catching it. Protect your immune system by following the tips below.

Preparing for COVID-19 Coronavirus if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance

You are probably now wanting to know what you can do to protect yourself from Coronavirus when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance. Here are my top tips for you.

Avoid Picking up Viral and Bacterial Germs

You can catch COVID-19 Coronavirus by being nearby someone who is infected and breathing the same air. You can also catch it by touching objects an infected person has sneezed, coughed, or breathed on.

This is because the germs are transferred into the air by breathing and through body secretions like mucous.

Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize

The most important thing you can do is to keep your hands germ free. This also goes for things you touch often.

Wash your hands every time you enter your home from being out. Wash your hands before you eat or prepare food.

The CDC says it takes 20 seconds of hand washing to wash germs off. I’m more thorough and do 30 seconds of hand washing. Just count in your head – 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, etc..

Research shows plain soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizer. Antibacterial Soap hasn’t shown to be more effective than plain soap. You can read more about it in this post.

Many soaps have fragrances and other mast cell triggering ingredients. I have Mast Cell safe soap options listed here:

Avoid Germ Ridden Surfaces

One of the most germ ridden things you touch all day is your phone. Use a Seventh Generation Disinfectant Wipe to wipe down your phone after being out. (These wipes are non-toxic. Clorox wipes and others have mast cell triggering ingredients. So avoid those.)

If you use a public computer or other devices, wipe the keyboard and mouse down before you use it.

Avoid touching door knobs, grocery cart handles, gas pumps, etc. I keep a dozen of these White cotton gloves or Knit Gloves in my car. I wear a pair to pump gas, then turn them inside out as I take them off. I wear gloves in the grocery too. Then I wash them in the washing machine.

If you use the wipes at the grocery to wipe down your cart it will make the cart wet. This can transfer germs through the cotton or knit gloves. If I’m going to touch wet surfaces, I wear Nitrile gloves.

Avoid Touching Your Face, Nose, Eyes, Mouth

The most common way you get sick is by touching something with germs. Then touching your face, nose, eyes, or mouth. Or touching something you are going to put into your mouth.

Just watch how many times a day you touch your face, nose, eyes, and mouth. You’ll probably be surprised.

Work on NEVER touching your face, nose eyes and mouth when you are out. Then thoroughly wash your hands before you touch these areas.

Should you wear a mask?

Likely no. A mask will only help if you are very close to someone who is sick for more than a few minutes. Like if you are caretaking a sick person. Or if you are on a crowded bus.

Or a mask would help you to not transfer the germs to someone else if you are sick.

A mask likely won’t help if you are just walking around in general public areas.

Unfortunately there has been a run on masks and they are very hard to find now. Healthcare workers are likely now going to run out of masks. This could be disastrous on a large scale.

The most responsible thing we can do is to leave the masks for the healthcare workers. Unless you are seriously immune compromised. Or if someone in your family falls ill.

An important note for those with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome: wearing a mask lowers your oxygen levels. This is a trigger for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. So only wear as necessary.

Is it safe to travel?

It depends on where you are traveling too. And how easily you get sick. If you’re immune system is compromised, I always recommend being cautious with travel in the winter.

COVID-19 Coronavirus is spreading quickly. It isn’t necessary to cancel everything. But you also want to be thoughtful in planning trips.

Here is a reliable contagion map where you can see confirmed cases:

Contagion Outbreak Monitor. Confirmed Cases of Novel Coronavirus.

What if you get sick?

If you suspect you have COVID-19 Coronavirus and need treatment, call ahead to your doctor’s office to let them know you are sick.

Ask them what they want you to do. Take precautions to avoid getting others at the doctor’s office or urgent care sick.

Take precautions to avoid getting others in your family. Also try to avoid getting the general public sick. Stay at home if you have symptoms.

Also avoid contact with pets if you catch COVID-19 Coronavirus. It may spread to animals. We don’t know enough about this yet.

Sanitize surfaces in your home often if you live with others. Cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing. And thoroughly wash your hands after.

I do highly recommend everyone have 2-3 weeks of non-perishables in the event of any kind of natural disaster or emergency. Just stock things you normally use. Then rotate these out as you use them.

This way if you do get sick, you don’t have to go out.

You may not need it for the COVID-19 Coronavirus spread. Or you may. But there will likely come a time when you will need it. There will likely some day be a natural disaster or more serious outbreak in the future.

Here are some of the Mast Cell/Histamine friendly things I keep extra of in the pantry:

Toilet paper


Seventh Generation Disinfectant Wipes

Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner

Dr. Bronners’ Unscented Baby Castile Soap

Seventh Generation Fragrance Free Dishwasher Detergent Packs

Bob’s Red Mill Sorghum Grain for popping

Organic Macadamias

Aroy-D Coconut Milk

US Wellness Meats – pastured chicken, turkey, and rabbit that are frozen right after slaughter

Are there any supplements you can take?

Below are good immune support supplements for those with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.

The links below are to Fullscript. Members of our Mast Cell 360 community get 15% on all products in the store when setting up an account with the links below. (Private clients – you already get this discount when ordering through the practice.)

Vitamin C may be effective for COVID-19 Coronavirus. I recommend this one. Generally during the flu, I take up to 2000mg/day, divided in 8 doses. If you have oxalate issues, keep it below 250mg/dose.

The ascorbic acid in this Vitamin C is not from corn fermentation.

Vitamin D at 5000 IU/day can bolster the immune system. I personally boost this to 10,000 IU daily when sick or concerned about infections. If you aren’t used to taking Vitamin D, you want to go slow with adding it in.

This Vitamin D3 is a 5000IU capsule:

This Vitamin D liquid is easy to absorb and you can microdose it if you need to increase Vitamin D slowly:

Magnesium Malate – The adrenals need magnesium to recover. The one below is a clean magnesium formula. Malate is often confused with malic acid. But it isn’t the same. You may need more magnesium to reduce COVID-19 Coronavirus effects. I take up to 600 mg 2x/day. Increase slowly. And if you develop loose stools, back it down.

Zinc picolinate – Zinc is a great immune booster. I take 30mg in the morning with food during illness.

Selenium – Selenium supports the immune system against viruses. 200mcg a day is the usual dose.

Quercetin – There is some limited evidence Quercetin may be helpful against COVID-19 Coronavirus. If you tolerate Quercetin, this is a well-absorbed form. For immune support, the usual amount is 1 capsule 3x/day with food.

Other Immune Supports and Tips

Here are some more resources for you:

Immune Support Supplements and Tips for Colds or Flu in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance

Travel: Cold and Flu Prevention Tips to avoid getting sick when traveling when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance

Immune Supports and Supplements that May Reduce Risk of Cold or Flu in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance

References on COVID-19 Coronavirus if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance

Adalja, Amesh MD. Video: Coronavirus Thought Lecture with infectious disease specialist Dr. Amesh Adalja presented by the Tepper Healthcare Club. Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon.

Contagion Outbreak Monitor. Confirmed Cases of Novel Coronavirus.

Chaolin Huang, et. al. Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, The Lancet, Feb 2020. DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30183-5.

Chiow KH, Phoon MC, Putti T, Tan BK, Chow VT. Evaluation of antiviral activities of Houttuynia cordata Thunb. extract, quercetin, quercetrin and cinanserin on murine coronavirus and dengue virus infection. Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2016 Jan;9(1):1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.apjtm.2015.12.002..

Nanshan Chen, MD, Prof Min Zhou, MD, Xuan Dong, PhD, Prof Jieming Qu, MD, Fengyun Gong, MD, Yang Han, PhD et al. Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 99 cases of 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a descriptive study. The Lancet. Feb 2020. DOI:

Wang, Wenjun & He, Jianxing & Lie, puyi & Huang, liyan & Wu, Sipei & lin, yongping & liu, xiaoqing. (2020). The definition and risks of Cytokine Release Syndrome-Like in 11 COVID-19-Infected Pneumonia critically ill patients: Disease Characteristics and Retrospective Analysis. DOI: 10.1101/2020.02.26.20026989.

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  1. Nancy

    The Workd Health Organization this week said the fatality rate for COVID-19 is 3.4%. They also said it causes more severe illness than the seasonal flu.

    1. Beth O'Hara

      Thank you Nancy! The stats are changing daily. I’m not sure what statistics the WHO death rate is based on, since they haven’t released the data sources yet. It may still be higher than the general population due to all the unreported cases, but that is definitely higher than 1%. I’m going to update the post with this stat. I appreciate you updating me!

  2. Scott

    Thank you Beth for this information and keeping my son with MCAS as safe as possible.

  3. Ellie

    I’m curious about your opinion on getting the flu vaccine now that COVID-19 is spreading – I’ve avoided the shot for the past few years because of my chronic health issues, but am now considering biting the bullet and risking a negative reaction, as doctors are saying it is best to be as prepared as possible so as not to develop another infection if sick with coronavirus. Could a flu shot increase or decrease the possibility of a cytokine storm? Do you know? Thank you!

    1. Beth O'Hara

      The flu vaccine won’t protect against COVID-19 Coronavirus. They are entirely different strains.

  4. elisabeth latenstein

    From this Chinese research I understand that the virus is also traceable in the faces of patients. I can imagine that this is one of the ways to get infected too. Therefore the measures you mention not to touch anything with your hands and using gloves out of the house are a very wise thing to do. We have to take especially care when having to use a public toilet or other public facilities. Here at home I use the government protocol for containing a Noro virus. But I live in an area with a lot of infected people right now. Here’s the research link:

    1. Deanna Shank

      Very pleased you have found it helpful Pam ~Deanna MC Team

  5. Sheryl

    How can I order supplements? It’s not letting me set up acct. thanks

    1. Beth O'Hara

      Just contact FullScript and they can step you through any issues setting up an account. Let them know it is through Mast Cell 360 so you get the 15% off.

  6. Gaye Baxter

    Per what we have read and seen on the news. In China elderly, 80 and above death
    Rate is > 14 %. In Italy they have an older population as well. In Italy the mean age is app 47 and in the US its high 30s. Older people who smoke or obese or with underlying health conditions do not fair well.
    Younger people have a lower chance of dying .

  7. Lucrezaborgia

    What about people with comorbid asthma with mast cell who might have mostly asymptomatic covid but extreme inflammation in the lungs? What could that look like?

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