Hives, medically known as Urticaria, is a disorder of the skin where histamine is aberrantly released causing blood vessels to dilate and skin problems to occur. Hives present as swollen red bumps or wheals on the skin that can change in appearance from hour to hour and itch severely. They can range from a small patch on the arm to the entire body. There are many different reasons for hives and sometimes the cause is never found. Occasionally hives occur in conjunction with angioedema, leading to lip or tongue swelling, throat swelling, and abdominal pain.
Hives can occur acutely because of illness or an allergic reaction to latex, bug bites, plant life, certain foods and food additives, preservatives, medicines, contrast dye, and even others. Usually acute hives results from a specific trigger and resolves on their own. Many children will commonly experience hives from an upper respiratory tract infection. Chronic hives, defined as having hives most days of the week for a period of greater than 6-weeks, occur for other reasons and many times a specific cause for this is never found. Both entities are treated similarly with anti-histamines. Sometimes up to four times the recommended dose of single antihistamines are used to suppress hives. Other medications include Singulair, steroids, and special monoclonal antibodies. Reassuringly, most chronic hives spontaneously resolve within two years, with or without treatment.
Michigan ENT & Allergy Specialists are happy to offer their services when it comes to chronic hives. A detailed medical history, complete medication review, lab work, allergy testing, and the right medications can have many patients feeling better soon.