Connective Tissue Issues?
For some people, there are illnesses that can be quickly sorted out at a minute clinic, or their ailment fades over time. Others require a prescription after a five minute conversation, an injection, or a much needed pit stop from our frenzied world to recover from a cold, rash, or headache. However, an increasing number of children and adults are seeing more than one specialist for symptoms that do not seem related: irritable bowel syndrome and headache disorders; rashes, that come and go, and sleep problems; joint pain and intolerances to certain foods. If you take a step back and can't connect the (medical) issues borrowing a phrase from a colleague, Dr. Heidi Collins, think connective tissue.
The connective tissue is the brick and mortar of our bodies. There are four types of tissue that make up our bodies: the epithelium, the barriers of body surfaces (skin as well as the gastrointestinal, respiratory and urogenital tract); muscles, with contractile strength and relaxation; nervous tissue, the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves which comprise our "information highway"; and connective tissue, which supports, connects and separates other tissue. Epithelial, muscle, nervous, and connective tissue make up each of the body's organs. The role of the cells and chemicals of the immune system is to help with the daily maintenance of the body's organs, called homeostasis. There are two components of the immune system, the innate immune system, the genetically encoded, hard wired molecules and cells which are the first line of defense to dangerous entities and tissue injury; and the adaptive immune system, which are specialized cells and proteins that have the capacity to mutate their receptors to enhance detection and orchestrate a tailored response to previously encountered dangers. Mast cells are embedded in the connective tissue throughout our bodies, and have been shown to play a key role in health and disease, releasing chemicals known to regulate blood flow, recruit components of the innate and adaptive immune responses, blood vessel growth, and toxic chemical detoxification, such as venom.
Appropriate activation of mast cells contributes to tissue defense and repair, while inappropriate release of these chemicals contributes to a variety of disease states, including hypersensitivity disorders, such as asthma and anaphylaxis, delayed hypersensitivity disorders, such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and neuro-psychiatric syndromes.