For a few years now I have been getting outbreaks of hives. The consistent factor in the past has been a night of heavy alcohol consumption. If I went out drinking a significant amount, the next day I would break out in hives and red rash.
I saw an allergist a couple of years back about this reaction. I was tested for food allergy to pretty much every basic food ingredient in alcohol (corn, potato, wheat, grape, etc.) and had no reaction to any of these. He advised that I take an antihistamine before a drinking session to reduce the effects. That worked okay - not always perfectly, but it seemed to help.
Lately however the hive outbreaks have increased in frequency to almost every day, regardless of drinking any alcohol or not. I can go over a week without any alcohol and I still get hives every day. They vary in intensity and body location as well as time of the day.
This has been happening since New Year's Eve (end of 2012, beginning of 2013). That night I did go out drinking and the following day I got a hive outbreak. But since then they are coming back almost daily.
I recently went to another allergist and got some blood tests done. I found out I have the following environmental allergies: rye grass pollen, dust mite, cat, moutain ceder, bermuda grass, johnson grass, alternaria, olive pollen, cottonwood, acacia, oak, elm, pigweed, ragweed, mugwort, russian thistle, dog.
They also found the presence of the Epstein Barr Virus. I'm wondering if this is related to the hives. I am doubtful that environmental allergies are related.
Later last year I did a week long cleanse diet consuming only water, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. I got hive outbreaks every day during this cleanse leading me to believe that even a food allergy is not directly responsible.
Last weekend I went out and had a number of drinks. A couple days later I had a pretty severe hive outbreak. Then a couple days after that I got very sick - fever symptoms, general lethargy, as well as a mouth full of painful canker sores. I still have those now and it hurts to swallow, drink, and eat. I also continue to get hives and rash and I haven't consumed alcohol in almost a week.
Some people suspect that alcohol is merely aggravating some other underlying condition.
Can anyone make any sense of this? Any tips or clues? Much appreciated.
Studies report that as many as 57.4% of patients with hives (urticaria) have the presence of thyroid antibodies. Thyroid panel tests include: TSH, free T3, free T4, thyroid antibodies - thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb), and thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb).
Excerpt from "Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies - TPO Autoantibodies and Their Significance" by Elaine Moore....
"In conditions of chronic urticaria, thyroid antibodies are not only indicators of chronic inflammation, but they appear to play a role in the disease process. In most cases, improvement of urticaria with thyroxine replacement hormone suggests that chronic thyroid inflammation may initiate a hypersensitivity reaction and an underlying thyroid hormone deficiency.
However, rarely, patients with chronic urticaria have undiagnosed conditions of Graves' disease. Researchers in the UK have reported two instances in which patients with chronic urticaria and TPO antibodies responded well to the anti-thyroid drug carbimazole."
Excerpt from American Osteopathic College of Dermatology - "Urticaria"...
"In about half of patients with chronic idiopathic hives, the explanation is that body's immune system is, in a sense, overactive. The urticaria is "autoimmune". The immune system is attacking the normal tissues of the body and causing hives as a result. We know certain urticaria sufferers have other signs of autoimmune problems. Some have autoimmune thyroid disease, vitiligo, swollen joints, or certain abnormalities in the blood (especially the ANA test).
A new treatment has recently emerged for autoimmune urticaria. This is the use of hydroxychloroquine, a drug originally used for malaria. In a clinical trial 83% improved or cleared completely when used for three months or more."
Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis (RAS) is better known as canker sores. As the study shows below, supplementing with vitamin B12 is an impressive treatment option for RAS. I would question the statement in the study "regardless of initial vitamin B12 levels in the blood" as at least 6 medical journals have shown symptoms of B12 deficiency occur under 500 pg/mL.
Most countries (with the exception of Japan and Europe where labs start from either 500 or 550 pg/mL) show a "normal" reference range starting from 200 pg/mL. Sublingual (under the tongue) B12 is a highly effective way to boost vitamin B12 levels.
Excerpt from Science Daily "Vitamin B12 Identified As An Effective Canker Sore Therapy, Study Suggests"...
"The researchers tested the effect of vitamin B12 on 58 randomly selected RAS patients who received either a dose of 1,000 mcg of B12 by mouth at bedtime or a placebo, and were tested monthly for six months.
Approximately three quarters (74 percent) of the patients of the treated group and only a third (32 percent) of the control group achieved remission at the end of the study. According to the research, "The average outbreak duration and the average number of ulcers per month decreased in both groups during the first four months of the trial.
However, the duration of outbreaks, the number of ulcers, and the level of pain were reduced significantly at five and six months of treatment with vitamin B12, regardless of initial vitamin B12 levels in the blood. During the last month of treatment a significant number of participants in the intervention group reached 'no aphthous ulcers status' (74.1% vs 32.0%; P < .01)."
Sorry to hear about the hives, just another couple of thoughts. Would it be a problem to take an antihistamine daily? Many such as Allegra, Claritin, and Zyrtec are over the counter and also generic. They are pretty cheap to use. Costco has generic Claritin for less then $15 for around 300 pills.
I find that Benadryl creme or gel is very helpful on the hives directly. If you put Benadryl on the skin don't use it orally at the same time. This also comes in generic.
Maybe you would consider NAET which is an allergy elimination acupuncture? You could be allergic to some type of clothing, perfume, soap, lotion, cleaner, make-up ect. in addition to the pollens and animals. For a practitioner near you check google NAET for more info.
It really does work! The drawback is that insurance does not pay for it. But I got to the point I didn't care. It was worth the price to be clear of the allergen that was driving me nuts. They also do testing to see what you are allergic to and can find other issues.
If you aren't taking D3 include that as it is really a wonderful support of the immune system. It is also cheap and easy to find at Costco, Walgreens, Walmart etc. The "optimal level" of D3 in your blood work should be between 50 and 70ml. The next blood test you have ask the doc to add a D3 test on to it. Keep track of your levels at least 2 times a year and adjust up or down. Most people can start at 5,000 IU a day.
More info on D3 at www.vitamindcouncil.org
Hope all this helps, it is allergy season and the pollen count in your area should be available online too.
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