Monday, January 15, 2018

"Where are they (the hives) now?" - 5 years later

It has been about 5 years since my chronic hives decided to run out on me.  Like a toxic companion, all I can say is "good riddance" and I hope I never have to deal with them again. But I am only 45 years old with hopefully a lot of life left in the flesh, so I am not so naive to think they will NEVER try to re-establish contact with me. But I will be more mentally and emotionally prepared to deal with their aggravation and B.S. if they do show up again one day.

My theory about why the chronic hives happened to me has remained unchanged since my last blog post in 2014. I remain convinced that it was one of two daily medications that I had started 4-6 weeks prior to the hives onset. One of which increased in dose only days before the wheals appeared. The other a new birth control of which I was just starting the second pack after taking the week break between packs.

To be allergic to something, your body has to have been exposed to it previously. Then it may decide it doesn't like it after a subsequent exposure.

A close friend of mine recently shared how he had a life-threatening allergic reaction after taking the same antibiotic as before, but after a week break between the dose rounds. He had no problem with the first week on the antibiotics, but the second time put him in the hospital for nearly a week.

The one thing about the chronic hives -- they were never life-threatening for me. They were ugly and frustrating and at times very uncomfortable, but despite my worry and anxiety, I was not going to die from them. For that, I feel lucky and blessed.

For those of you struggling and seeking answers, I hope this blog helps and provides you with some insights based on all of my trials and errors. Good luck!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

False Alarm - and Why I Don't Promote Certain "Cures"

I should have provided an update sooner, but that one instance of "pressure hives" was not the start of a recurrence. I have been avoiding putting pressure on myself like that though, to avoid another possible case. Very happy to say that I am still hives-free.

However, I have recently received to this blog several posts (via comments) and messages from some who have found "cures" in homeopathic treatments. I have deleted these from my blog.

I have nothing against homeopathic medicine per se, and I do believe that it can be beneficial in certain cases. But when it comes to the issue of chronic idiopathic urticaria, homeopathy is not a silver bullet and in fact can be harmful. Chronic hives of this nature seem to stem from a complex "misfire" in the body's allergic and immune response system. I believe that its primary triggers are any combination of medications, foods, stresses, and immunologic diseases that find some odd interplay with each other.

Homeopathic treatments can be a rabbit hole. I personally had experience with this, in a desperate search for a way to rid myself of the hives, and was put on a very odd, highly restrictive diet that I ultimately abandoned after a few weeks. They told me that if I stayed on it for 4-6 months, the hives would go away. Well, guess what? After not being on that diet, my hives went away 3 months after I saw the homeopathic person. My belief today is that they just ran their course, as my body adjusted to find its way back to homeostasis. (

My best advice now is similar to what I've given in the past:
1) Try to maintain as healthy a lifestyle as you can, in moderation: diet, physical activity, no smoking etc.
2) Examine any recent additions or changes of medications and supplements, even 1-2 months prior to hives onset.
3) Examine any recent dietary changes or use of chemical-based consumer products (soaps, detergents) within 1-2 months prior to hives onset.
4) Find a good doctor who will check autoimmune markers, often called an autoimmune panel of bloodwork.
5) It's worth visiting an allergist to get food and environmental allergy testing. The body's allergy sensitivities can change every several years, so it's worth seeing if yours has too. (

I am a huge proponent of evidence-based medicine, but I also believe in natural management approaches. With my 5 points listed above, you don't see me advocating high-dosing of antihistamines and steroids, which I certainly tried with little success when I actively had the hives. I do advocate gathering information to rule in or out things that may be the triggers. My goal was always to address the source of the issue, not just try to mask the symptoms.

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

1.5 Years Later, the Hives Visit Again

Two years ago around exactly this time (early June), chronic hives started for me. I had them for about 6-7 months before they simply faded away. And I haven't had them for the past 1.5 years.

When I did have them, they were fairly mild on most days. They were mostly on my upper body, including my undergarment area. I never had the angio-edema versions, just the pesky pink wheals. I also often would get "pressure hives" clustered around my waist area and braline areas. And sweating or heat would make the hives much worse, so I spent a good bit of that summer inside in the AC and taking lukewarm showers.

I later came to believe that the hives were the result of one of two medications I had started one month prior: Either a birth control pill or an antidepressant to treat my anxiety, but I can't tell you which one and none of the long list of doctors I met with ever brought this up to me. I believe that my body simply finally got used to whichever medication it was and stopped reacting allergically to it. I remained on both medications even as the hives went away.  (I have since changed to a different birth control, and have been on that for over a year now.)

Last night, I got pressure urticaria along my lower belly after sitting on the couch with my laptop on my lap for over an hour. I also had some tight-fitting jeans on too. The urticaria were raised, pink and elongated where the 'pressure' of the laptop's edge was pressing against my body for that extended period of time.

I did get quite anxious -- are the hives returning? Will I have to endure a long period with them again, especially over the summer again? Does the timing mean anything?

Except this time, there is NOTHING different going on. I haven't recently changed medications. I have nothing different going on in my life. No new foods, detergents, etc.

I took an antihistamine before bed, and I will dose up on them for the next few days, even if no more hives appear. I have read and learned from my own experience, that keeping them at bay is best. This morning when I woke, as expected, the urticaria were gone and I saw no new hives on my body. I still took a lukewarm shower though! I will also not wear tight clothes or be in the heat for the next few days.

I hope I won't be posting more routinely to this blog once again.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Over 1 Year Hives Free - Will They Come Back?

While I am more than thrilled to report that I am 13.5 months hives-free, a reader of my blog posted a comment the other day that has me wondering:  How long will this remission last?  He noted how his come and go, sometimes a few years in between bouts.  It makes me wonder if that will be my future too.

For now, I just find that every few days, I still scan my body for those pesky hives in fearful anticipation that they will return. And sigh a relief that my skin is all clear.

Each time that I have to change to a different medication (I hate that the pharmacy is always switching from one generic to the next), I worry that it will trigger a hives reaction.

Or certain foods make me worry.  Or new perfunes or lotions.

I am less fearful and nervous as time passes.  The stress is reducing.

But the question remains: Will I be caught off-guard again one day? And if so, my theory that mine were due to a medication will fly right out the window... and we'll be right back to "idiopathic."

Thanks for reading...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

1 Year Hives Free - but Now My DAD Has Hives!

I am more than thrilled to say it has officially been 1 year since my last hive from my chronic urticaria bout.  I have to change to a different oral contraceptive medication in 2 weeks, so we will see how THAT goes! LOL.

Interestingly, my father -- who has never had hives in his life (other than an isolated incident here or there) has been having hives on his chest, stomach, and back for the past six days.  Not considered a chronic case yet, his started at the end of a bad stomach flu/virus.  His hives emerge in the late evening and by morning are cleared up.  He has been taking Benadryl, which helps to reduce them.

Like me, he's been going through the list:
  • No new shampoos, detergents, soaps, or other personal care products
  • No new foods/drinks that he hasn't eaten before
  • No exposure to plants or animals
  • No medication changes or additions

Since his hives started after the stomach bug, I suggested to him that he contact his doctor for a bloodwork order to test for H. Pylori, a bacteria in most of our digestive tracts which has been reported to have a correlation with hives for some people. He wants to give it a few more days before he does that.

I will keep you all posted, and hope that he doesn't go through nearly 7 months of them like I did! (Or longer, like some of my blog readers have.)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Still no hives! (big smiley face)

I can't believe it has been 2 months since I last authored a blog post here. I remain, most thankfully, hives free.  I am increasingly convinced it was a medication issue.

Just a few weeks ago, I had to change to a different generic of the antidepressant that I am on.  Needless to say, I was VERY nervous. Wondering if some new inactive ingredients would trigger hives again.  I am pleased to report that it did not.

I did just have some of the chest flushing a few evenings last week, while I was on my "one week off" break from 3 months of continuous birth control pills. I have come to know and accept that as just a hormonal thing that is highly transient.

I hope that my blog gives some hope to those of you out there suffering currently. It may be even longer before I write again (hopefully), since there has been very little more to say.

Keep the faith!!

Friday, September 6, 2013

A summary of tests I've had for hives

So thought it might be helpful to share with all of you the various tests and experiments that I went through during my bout with chronic hives last year... maybe you have had the same or get additional ideas:

Bloodwork ordered by my Primary Care Doctor and/or Endocrinologist:
  • Thyroid hormone panel - detailed (TSH, free T3, free T4/calculated, T4, T3 uptake, Total T3) -- mine were all normal.
  • Thyroid antibodies test  (Thyroid Peroxidase & Thyroglobulin) -- I already knew I had these antibodies from a test years prior, they re-tested to confirm.
  • Autoimmune panel  (tested for things like double-stranded DNA, C3 & C4 complement, Sjorgen's, RA Factor, ANA screen, SED rate, and more) -- all of these were normal except ANA was positive but in a very low titer.
  • Celiac - negative.
  • Metabolic Panel - normal.
  • Vitamin D - mine was very low, but is now in normal range thanks to supplements.
  • Vitamin B12 - low-normal.
  • H Pylori (bacterial test) - normal.
Bloodwork ordered by Allergist:
  • IGE Serum  (screen for allergies) - slightly above normal range.
  • IGE Antibody - positive but in a very low titer.
  • Tree & Grass Pollens - positive across the board, very high for grass.
  • Tree Nuts - all bloodwork was negative, but skin scratch tests were positive for a few.
Dietary Changes Tried:
  • Gluten free for 4 months (useless; did nothing other than frustrate my life)
  • Paleo for 4 weeks  (no change other than created sleep disturbances and fatigue)
  • Eliminated added sugars for 2 months  (no change)
  • Eliminated tree nuts after getting positive allergy skin test results -- this will be a lifetime thing now, and I was told I need to carry an EpiPen.

Maybe this list will give you some ideas to explore with your doctor.  You can see how my results really didn't point to anything, which is why I now believe that mine MAY have been medication induced.  Good luck!!