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The MastAttack 107: The Layperson’s Guide to Understanding Mast Cell Diseases, Part 39

46. What does it mean to be a “leaker” or “shocker”?

These are terms patients use to describe the way mast cell disease affects them rather than defined medical terms. A leaker is someone who has a lot of symptoms day to day but has fewer severe attacks or anaphylaxis. A shocker is someone who has fewer day to day symptoms but more frequent severe attacks or anaphylaxis.

Leakers and shockers are not considered to have different subtypes of mast cell disease because symptom presentation varies hugely in all forms of mast cell disease. There are no tests to identify if you are a leaker or shocker. You can start a leaker and become a shocker or vice versa. The terms themselves have no medical meaning. They are just shorthand for patients to describe their experience with their disease.

47. What does “sense of impending doom” mean?

Sense of impending doom is the medical term for a feeling of terrible anxiety or fear, literally a feeling that something awful is about to happen. It is a medical symptom for lots of conditions, including anaphylaxis. The biological basis behind this sensation has been the subject of debate for a long time but there’s really no decisive answer as to the cause

48. Why do I taste metal when I’m having a bad reaction or anaphylaxis?

A metallic taste is also a symptom of many things, including anaphylaxis. It is also debated and an exact cause has never been identified. One of the more prevalent explanations is that it is the taste of epinephrine, which your body releases as an initial defense against anaphylaxis or mast cell degranulation. As far as I know, there is no data to support this.