You feel your skin itches all over. You are covered with red welts that are usually very itchy and ranges in size from a few millimeters to the size of a plate. This condition creates worries in your mind because, most times, you don’t know exactly what has triggered them. These red welts are known as urticaria or, as it’s generally called, hives. What exactly are hives?
A BRIEF LOOK AT HIVES
Hives is an outbreak of pale red welts or bumps that appear on the skin, as a result of the body’s reaction to allergens. Hives know no age; it can strike anyone of any age, race, and gender. When a reaction (an allergic reaction) occurs, the body tends to release a chemical substance called histamine. When the chemical is released, the capillaries of the blood vessels leak fluid. The fluid accumulates under the skin, leading to a rash. Foods, infections, medications, and stings by insects can cause a hive.
TYPES OF HIVES
There are three major types of hives that cause pains.
- Acute Hives
Acute hives are hives which last for six weeks. Albeit, triggers of acute hives will be discussed later.
- Chronic Hives
These are hives that can last for more than six weeks. Chronic urticaria can affect internal organs such as the lungs, muscles, and gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms of chronic hives may include diarrhea, vomiting, difficulty in breathing, and soreness.
- Physical Hives
Physical hives are caused by direct physical contact of the skin with specific physical stimuli such as vibration, exposure to sun, heat, cold, pressure, and sweating. These kinds of hives are felt exactly where the skin was in contact with the physical stimuli. Most of these hives, though, occur an hour after the skin is exposed to the environment.
CAUSE OF HIVES YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE
There are different triggers of hives. While you know some of them such drugs and insect stings, others are uncommon. These hives will be discussed but you would be surprised to know that these also trigger hives.
Stress is associated with hives. The development or worsening of chronic hives has been traced to stress. This is not because the stress was directly causing the hives you experienced; no, but a stress hormone, cortisol was released. This stress hormone then amplifies the autoimmune response, thus giving rise to the development of the condition. In many studies, individuals who’ve developed chronic hives, when examined closely, were found to have a higher level of stress.
- Infections and Diseases
Other triggers of the condition are infections and diseases. Some diseases are well associated with hives. Of course, some of you didn’t know. This may be triggered by a viral or bacterial infection. Infections causing chronic hives include influenza, the common cold, urinary tract infection, strep throat, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes, and H. pylori. These are the most reported autoimmune conditions in people suffering from chronic urticaria. Chronic urticaria starts as an autoimmune response but the sole reason behind its occurrence is still unknown.
Did you ever think of this fact? You may disagree with it, but it is true. Foods have been linked to hives experienced by some patients. When they were examined to know the cause of their hives, allergists found out that they were caused by certain foods. Foods such as chocolate, nuts, tomatoes, eggs, berries, apples, celery, milk, fish all cause hives. However, food preservatives and additives have also been adduced to hives.
Studies have also shown a connection between drugs and hives. There are certain drugs that trigger hives. Therefore, you must be very careful of the drugs you take into your system; you must know if you are allergic to drugs in order to avoid being infected with hives. Drugs that trigger hives include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, painkillers, and codeine.