Chronic hives are hives that last for six weeks or longer, or they come and go very frequently. If you break out in the hives frequently, and you don’t know the reason why, you should see your doctor. There is a reason that you break out with hives, also known as urticaria, because there usually is an underlying reason for them to appear on your body. Hives are places that swell up on you body and they are terribly itchy. Very often, if you are frequently breaking out with hives, your immune system is trying to fight off some invader. The invader may be a harmless substance that your body sees as a threat, such as an allergen. However, the reason for your hives may be an infection that your immune system is fighting.
If you have chronic hives, it could be that you have an autoimmune disorder, or some other underlying condition. It is important that you let your doctor know that you have chronic hives. People who have chronic hives may also have a condition called angioedema,which is characterized by red welts that can appear over the eyes, lips, as well as the throat, hands, feet and genitals. If swelling takes place in the throat, this is an emergency situation, because breathing can be obstructed.
The most effective treatment for chronic hives is to take antihistamines, which will provide temporary relief of the wheels and the itching. The antihistamines neutralize the histamine produced by specialized white blood cells, called mast cells. It is important that you don’t try to relieve the discomfort of chronic hives with NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Motrin, and Advil because NSAIDs tend to make the hives worse.
The symptoms of chronic hives should not be taken lightly, because in serious cases, hives can form on the inside of the throat and airways and anaphylactic shock can present with difficulty in breathing, a drop in blood pressure, and possible loss of consciousness. Death can follow if emergency treatment is not rendered in time.
The cause of chronic hives may not be apparent, and you may have to go through some testing to find out for sure. Even with testing you may never know what is causing them. Your doctor will order blood tests to be taken, and you may have to have other tests to rule out any underlying diseases or conditions. You may also have to undergo some allergy testing to see if there is an allergen causing you to experience chronic hives.
If you suffer with chronic hives, there may be a trigger causing them. Testing can determine if there is a trigger. If there is a trigger that causes your chronic hives, you can avoid know what it is and avoid it. There could be more than one trigger that causes chronic hives, so finding out what they are will greatly improve your quality of life. Your doctor may suggest that you use over-the-counter antihistamines to treat chronic hives. Antihistamines are effective because they block the effects of the histamines produced. It is the histamines that cause the allergic response of chronic hives. There are many non-drowsy allergy medications that you can take, such as Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra. Before driving or working with machinery you should try out these allergy medications, because even though they are labeled as non-drowsy, they can still cause drowsiness in some individuals. If these low dose antihistamines are not effective, you may need to use the other types of antihistamines, such as Benadryl and Vistaril. You will need to be careful about drowsiness with these medications.
To help prevent the itchy discomfort of chronic hives it is important to keep your home environment cool. You may need to keep a fan on in the home keep yourself cool. Avoid using aspirin, Tylenol, and other NSAIDs. Wear clothing that is comfortable on your skin, and avoid wool and other scratchy materials. It may take a while to control or eliminate chronic hives, but don’t give up. You and your doctor can work together to make you more comfortable.