As I’ve begun to search for jobs in a new state, I’ve come across some opportunities that are a definite NO. While MCAS triggers vary between patients, it’s safe to say that the following jobs are probably not ideal….
- Bus Driver
Mechanical vibration and irritation are common mast cell triggers. When you add in the postural stress and strain and potential scenarios of trying to avoid danger with other drivers, this job sounds like a nightmare!
- House Cleaner
Most patients with MCAS try to avoid cleaning supplies and chemicals, so this one is a no-brainer!
- Makeup Artist
Makeup can be fun, but it can also be a huge trigger. I’ve never met a makeup artist who didn’t have a perfectly matted face, voluptuous mascara, and colorful glossed lips. Plus, the thought of working in an environment where people are spraying perfumes left and right is enough to give me a serious panic attack!
Bugs, rodents? Ew. Chemicals to deter them? Double ew! Crawling into small spaces full of triggers? No thanks!
Some patients with MCAS are very sun and heat-sensitive, so this may not be the most ideal summer option. Indoor pools are usually chlorinated which can also be a trigger.
- Antarctica researcher
Okay, this one sounds pretty cool, aside from the obvious challenge of living in a frigid place. Extreme temperatures and a lack of proximity to emergency rooms generally don’t mix well with MCAS!
- House Flipper
Every time I watch “Fixer Upper” I fantasize about spreading my design wings. And then I realize that the exposure to paint, mold, off-gassing of new materials and other fumes—combined with crazy manual labor and the pressure to please clients—is probably not in my best interest.
Luckily, many states have now outlawed cigarette smoke in public establishments, but it still remains a concern. Alcohol and lack of sleep can also be a mast cell trigger for many patients.
- Emergency Room Doctor
This may depend on the individual, but stress is believed to be a major trigger for mast cells. Any type of stressful job should probably be avoided.
Last but not least, there’s beekeeping. I absolutely love fresh honey, but every so often I have a nightmare about this because I’m severely allergic to Hymenoptera (wasp, bee, hornet, and yellowjacket) venom. Studies estimate that 10-15% of patients with Hymenoptera venom allergies have underlying mast cell activation disease.1,2
All humor aside, the reality is that many patients with MCAS are homebound and/or unable to work. However, there are certainly more and more options for remote employment out there, and that may be a safe alternative for patients who are sensitive to environmental factors that they can’t control for in public environments. Many patients also find they are able to work traditional jobs when they have a supportive employer who is willing to allow for any necessary modifications.
What about you? What’s the worst job you ever had? What jobs did I fail to mention that would pose a potential mast cell nightmare?
- Bonadonna P, Perbellini O, Passalacqua G, et al. Clonal mast cell disorders in patients with systemic reactions to Hymenoptera stings and increased serum tryptase levels. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009;123(3):680-686. doi:10.1016/J.JACI.2008.11.018
- Austen KF, Akin C. Clonal and non-clonal mast cell activation disorders. Clin Pain Advis Oncol Sect. 2016. http://www.clinicalpainadvisor.com/oncology/clonal-and-non-clonal-mast-cell-activation-disorders/article/619291/?utm_source=TrendMD&DCMP=OTC-CPA_trendmd&dl=0. Accessed June 23, 2017.
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