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Hives caused by systemic infection
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Hives caused by systemic infection

When I was 19 years old, I had my first outbreak of hives (about 70% of my body) while recovering from an operation to prevent further cases of spontaneous pnemothorax (collapsed lung).  I had 3 of those.  I had been given intravenous penicillin which they promptly stopped.  Ever since that event, I get hives whenever I am sick with the a cold, flu, sinus infections, etc.  I also recently learned that I get hives while recovering from surgery.  I recently had two operations a few months apart to remove wisdom teeth.  

My hives start first in the warm spots on my body: waist bands, arm pits, behind my knees and my inner thighs.  Before long, they are usually everywhere but the tanned parts of my arms (tops of my forearms), hands and face.  The last few times, I even have them on my neck and lower legs.

Over the years, I have tried numerous things to reduce the severity of these hives.  I have tried several antihistamines, Zyrtec, Allegra and Benadryl.  All they seem to do is reduce the itchiness, but not much.  Benadryl at least allows me to sleep at night.

Also since this has started I've tried numerous things to try and figure out what might be causing it.  I have ruled out antibiotics and most of the medicines I've taken (Tylenol, cold remedies, etc... including antihistamines).  I've done this by not taking anything when I get colds and the yet the hives still come.

All of my various family doctors, about 4 of them to date had no idea what might be causing this.  One of my family doctors even informed me that his daughter has similar symptoms but even he didn't know.  I also went to an allergist who seemed to dismiss my claims and only tested me for 4 allergens: cat, dog and two types of dust mites.  I learned that I am allergic to all but dogs.  He also gave me a good scratch and said that I welt easy.  That doctor was too busy to help me further.

These days, I get hives covering about 80% of my body and they last about 5-10 days depending on the severity of my infection or surgery.  The hives usually keep me up at night.  I am desperate to understand this…. please help.  Thanks in advance.
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15 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi,
      Your history itself suggest the cause for hives in your case is allergy to pets and mites. You need to try to avoid these triggers and see if you still develop hives. If you still develop hives then the cause for hives is not known. In most cases hives are of idiopathic origin. You can use topical steroids or immunomodulators for relief if you continue to have hives inspite of using antihistamines. Best
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Avatar_f_tn
I'm a 48 year old woman I have a 23 year old daughter a 20 year old son and a 49 year old husband. About 8 yrs ago it started with my daughter first she would get a severe stomach cramp and turn bright red from head to toe, itching and burning like she was on fire and hives would welt up all over her followed by vomiting. I had taken her to the dr. To be told it was a food allergy but her diet didn.t matter she could eat something one day no problems the next she'd have this episode. I learned that the minute she had the stomache ache to put benedryl down her and that would at least ease the symptoms. Then I started having these attacks same symptoms starting with a severe stomache ache followed by turning bright red head to toe, hives feel like my skin is on fire and vomiting, then my husband starting having the same thing except his lips swell also, now my son is starting to have the same thing and in him his lungs and throat start shutting down he has to be rushed to emergency room for an epi shot. If we recognize the stomache pain we can kinda ease the symptoms. This is not a food allergy. We don't know what it is and it comes on all of a sudden. It can be 2:00 in the morning while we are sleeping and to be woke up from it. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I could understand one family member but all of us?
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Avatar_n_tn
Just want you all to know there is another cause no one has mentioned and I have never heard a Dr. deal with it either, and that is allergy to all chemicals, preservatives and anti caking agents in our food. It started with me 20 years ago now my daughter in law gets hives too. Others may get a stomach ache. Now that we have learned how to eat naurally(and it is very tricky to do so) we are symptom free until we mess up. You may email me at ***@**** if you would like more info.
Carolyn
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you for the reply. I can safely say that I have been avoiding cat dander since I found out I was allergic. While at school, I live without cats. I've gotten sick after being at school for months and still get the hives. Obviously, dust is much trickier to avoid. I do seek out apartments without carpet and try to keep them clean. I switched to hypoallergenic pillows and wash my bedding frequently. I haven't been able to avoid forced air heating though. Oh, I use an Ionic Pro air purifier in my bedroom. All that considered, I seldom have any noticable allergic symptoms in general. Hives-when-sick is the only symptom I have other than when I'm in a house with cats (itchy eyes, sore throat, runny nose, etc).

I know it is possible that allergen exposure may be continuous or frequent but does not trigger hives except when sick. I find this idea intersting (as compared to idiopathic) as it suggests the possibility of avoiding something ergo no hives. Would a thorough round of allergy testing possibly resolve this?

Also, the hives seem to be getting worse with each bout of illness. For the first time, I recently got hives on my hands and neck whereas I never had before.

I can honestly say that I would not mind being sick at all if I could just remain hiveless. They are by far the worst part of having a cold, etc.
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Avatar_f_tn
Every winter when I get a really bad cold and congested I break out sometimes to the point where even if I take 2 benedryls I still can see then on my skin just lightly faded and sorta itchy this has been happening to me every yr since I was 19 I am able to eat anything I am not allergic to sea food but sometimes when I eat shrimp I start to itch but don't break out I just get read my hands or feet don't kno not sure why my feet or leegs I don't do anything different and I usually go to the same places daily but when I have a cold and mucus (yes nast I know ) in my chest I break out I am allergic to pet fur it always makes me sneeze,makes my nose itch, but animals do not be out and I go around people with animals daily. Its so miserable bcuz allegre used to work but now only bebedryl dose I am anemic too so need the heat I can't take a cool shower cuz its winter and its freezing o I have to take the benedryl and wait for em to go away and get in n out fast hoping I don't break out instantly! I've been to the doctor numerous of times over the years and no doctor ever can tell me why. I was browsing the net to see why only during the winter and why only when I have a chest cold???? Anyone?
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Avatar_m_tn
The best answer I have heard yet (from my present doctor) is that some of our mast cells are more sensitive at warm temperatures (just like there are some that fire when cold, etc). For some of us, when we have a fever our "warm" mast cells react to allergens when they otherwise might not. Since a fever is sort of sudden, a massive, synchronous release of histamines apparently happens resulting in hives (at least in my case) all over the body. I'm sorry if my explanation is too simplistic... I'm not a doctor.

I have finally just given up on the idea that they can be prevented; hives are just a quirk of my immune system that I will have to live with for the rest of my life. I next best thing is to do my best to avoid illness. I have been a certifiable germaphobe for a while now and I get flu shot faithfully each fall. I wash my hands and try to avoid touching my face. I just try to do what I can to limit my exposure to germs.

Good luck to you ananelle on your search for answers. I hope you can figure it out!
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535822_tn?1389452880
My opinion is that the hives I get are from the toxins in the environment..mine started after dental treatment I get them round my neck and arms only, it is worse and breaks out mostly when they are spraying ie the chem trails I also get sinusitis, non stop sneezing, Head aches  .The chemicals like aluminium  they are spraying on us can cause these symptoms
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Avatar_f_tn
Xyzal is an antihistamine that has helped me! I have had chronic hives for 2 years. I take Xyzal 2x a day, it has controlled my symptoms very well.
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Avatar_n_tn
I suffer with severe period pains and was given melanflanic acid to treat them, i took them along with ibroprufen all through my early teens then all of a sudden one day reacted in hives and itchy palms to the MA, which then escalated to Ibroprufen. I stopped taking them but continued to have hives for about a year before they disappeared and never returned until i had an operation about 5 years later and was on pain relief. They came back with vengance all over my body, i immediately stopped the pills but they continued for a week or so, then went away, then came back before stopping. That was about a year ago now. Perhaps you are allergic to brufen which is in both MA and ibrobrufen which is what i have a reaction too. Even stopping them i find the hives remained for a long time afterwards and would come and go despite not taking anything. Maybe if you steer clear of all pain meds for a lengthy amount of time they will go away. Im always ok with paracetamol but we are all different so that might not work for you. Other thing i thought is the ingredients in the general aesthetic might trigger a response.
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Avatar_f_tn
I get the same thing!  Ever since I was a child I am 30 now) a lot of the times when I would get sick I would get HORRIBLE hives that last for about 2 weeks and sometimes resulted in anaphylaxis.  Now I pretty much get them every time I get some kind of infection (cold/stomach bug/you name it).  Unfortunately even with a max dose of Prednisone (100mg/day) and max doses of Xyzal (which is essentially Zyrtec) 4x day, Cingulair 1x day, Pepcid 1x day and Benadryl 4x day I STILL often end up with anaphylaxis in the ER with epi/albuterol/solu-medrol IV (besides the fact that I am too drugged to really function or drive).  I was on Xolair shots for 2 years and that was working but for some reason it stopped working (I am having an outbreak now after a chest cold).  As a kid all the doctors just labeled me as allergic to every medicine (all antibiotics/cough drops/cold medicine) but it obviously had nothing to do with the medicines I was taking.  Kind of relieved to hear I am not alone!
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Avatar_f_tn
I am currently on 60 mg of prednisone, hydroxaline (a super strong antihistamine), and a z pack (antibiotics) to treat my respiratory infection, and an epi pen on hand!!! It took 33 years to realize that all of my life, my countless hive breakouts, severe allergic reactions, throat closures and hospital stays, we're caused by an allergic reaction to respiratory infections. My current battle which was diagnosed as bronchitis led to a severe allergic reaction, which finally warranted a script for an epi pen, and finally I realized that the correlation between my respiratory illness and my allergic reaction is no coincidence...I'm allergic to being sick!!!!! This has been happening all of my life, and it's crazy that out of all the doctors I've seen, not one has ever connected the dots. I remember my mother being besides herself because through countless episodes as a child she never got any answers from any doctors. On Monday, I was very sick, high fevers, an a bad chest infection, and was too sick to get to the doc. Tuesday, was far worse, stomach issues started to appear and the respiratory virus had gotten worse, I became very concerned when my lips began to swell, and I knew this was going to end up in a total hive breakout and anaphylaxis....I went to the doc first thing wednesday morning and to my surprise the hives had not appeared. He put me on a pack, and 40 mg of prednisone for my breathing ( I have asthma)
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Avatar_f_tn
Next morning, I woke up in a full blown breakout, and throat started closing. I immediately went back to urgent care and the doc couldn't believe that the allergic reaction broke through 40 mg of prednisone. He immediately checked what had been prescribed assuming that was the cause of my breakout...then I told him that this has happened to me over 30/40 times throughout my life, it's always the tail end of a respiratory virus that I break out in hives and go into anaphylaxis...I said I finally realized I'm allergic to being sick! So if this happens to you don't think you are crazy, and don't let doctors lead you to believe that this is not possible like they have done yo me all of my life...I'm glad I figured it out, and I hope sharing my story will help!
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