All about Severe Hives
Usually cases of severe hives are not life threatening but they are terribly uncomfortable. Hives come and go. Some people have hives off and on their entire lives while others might have only one or two cases of severe hives.
Hives are caused by allergic reactions. Histamine is produced by the body during an allergic reaction. That’s why the medications used to treat allergies are called antihistamines. Histamine is the substance which makes our eyes water or causes sneezing when we have allergies, such as hay fever.
Severe hives are also caused by histamines. In this case, the histamine the body produces causes small blood vessels (capillaries) to leak. It is these fluids that get caught under the skin and cause lots of swelling and itching. Hives may only last for a day or they may continue many days. Hives can keep reoccurring for several weeks after the first flare-up.
Many things can cause severe hives. It really depends on what kinds of substances cause your allergic reactions. Sometimes hives can be combined with other allergy symptoms, such as runny eyes and nose and swelling all over the body. In the worst case scenario, a person could go into anaphylactic shock and even die from a severe allergic reaction.
Some of the most common causes of severe hives are pollens and mold, chemical exposure, animal dander, certain foods, preservatives or additives, insect bites and prescription medications. Clothes that are too tight can bring on hives and so can all kinds of stress, whether physical or mental. One of the most frustrating things about hives is that the cause is often never known. In fact, 70% of the time, the cause of hives is never discovered.
Severe hives often affects the tongue and face, and in the worst cases, swelling may even constrict the food pipe and breathing. If you get considerably out of breath or start wheezing from the swelling, you need to get to a hospital right away. Swelling in the throat can cause you to have trouble catching your breath and can lead to all types of respiratory distress.
In the beginning with hives, the antihistamine drug, Benadryl, is often prescribed. This is an inexpensive drug but it does not always work. It also tends to make people very sleepy. Cases of hives that are not effectively treated with Benadryl are then treated with some other antihistamines, such as Cetrizine or Fexofenadene. These cause less sleepiness.
If you have chronic severe hives, you will probably eventually be put on oral steroids or corticosterones, as these are meant to stop the swelling and itching. One of the most popular of these drugs is prednisone. If your hives are associated with a life threatening allergy, you most likely will receive an injection of epinephrine to bring down histamine levels.
In fact, people who often have severe hives and other allergic reactions carry an epinephrine kit with them so that they can give themselves a shot to save their life if they are far from a medical facility.
Severe hives are not a problem to take lightly. Not only is the itching and swelling very uncomfortable but because of the seriousness of the other symptoms which can accompany the hives, such as respiratory problems.
In addition to treating hives, you should also do everything you can to avoid getting hives in the first place. That means avoiding foods to which you may be allergic and reducing stress levels as much as you can. There are several homeopathic remedies for hives, such as skin lotions made from herbs that can help to relieve the itching and swelling.