About 20% of the population has experienced urticaria, the medical term for hives, in their lifetime. The hives can vary from raised bumps the size of the end of a ball point pen to welts the size of peas. In some cases, the hives can be very itchy. In others, they may burn or sting. Sometimes hives may not present any accompanying sensory side effects, but the bumps will still appear. They are most often caused by an allergic reaction to a food or drug.
In some cases, hives may reappear frequently, and may be triggered by various activities or environmental factors.
For people suffering from chronic hives, the rash appear daily for a period of two or more months. The rash will subside after 24 hours, and the next day new hives will appear. These cases are very rare, and the cause for the development of chronic hives is unknown. There may be a link between chronic hives and other illnesses, including thyroid disease and autoimmune disorders, but the strength of these connections has yet to be thoroughly explored. The disease is most commonly found in adults, and may remain dormant for varying lengths of time before recurring. For most people, chronic hives goes away on its own after one to five years.
In some cases, chronic hives have also been suspected to be associated with infections such as tuberculosis, herpes, streptococcus and hepatitis B virus. These cases are quite rare and the causal relationship between the infectious agents and hives is undetermined. The majority of cases of chronic hives are caused by exposure to an allergen. Chronic hives can be brought on by contact with or ingestion of food, medications. Triggers for the illness can also include environmental factors, such as exposure to sunlight, cold or heat, physical activity, mental or emotional stress, or stimuli such as pressure or vibration. If hives seem to be made worse by exercise, this could be due to a number of different factors including tight clothing, heat, or sweat.
In order to determine what may be triggering hives, doctors may do a number of tests for different allergens. Also, the patient may be asked to pay close attention to daily patterns and habits, and to keep track of things like diet, exercise, medications, and contact with various substances. It is also important to keep a detailed record of the time frame and severity of hives whenever they are brought on, in order to cross reference the list of exposures for that time frame.
Once the trigger has been identified, the best way to avoid outbreaks of hives is to limit exposure. In some cases triggers can be avoided by simply wearing lighter, looser clothing, changing medications or applying sunscreen before exposure to sunlight. In other cases, however, drastic changes to your lifestyle may be necessary, such as diet or exercise routines. Of course, this may not always be feasible if the trigger is a common environmental factor or necessary part of your everyday life. It is also possible that limiting or reducing exposure to the trigger is still not enough to prevent the recurrence of hives. In these cases, medications may be necessary to manage the symptoms of chronic hives
Hives are a symptom brought on by the immune system, which involves the release of histamine. Histamine is a compound released by the immune system in order to allow white blood cells to better reach areas of infection by a pathogen. In an allergic reaction, histamine can either be inopportunely released or unregulated, leading to unusually high levels throughout the body. There are four types of receptors that interact with histamine. These are designated H-1 through H-4, and they each trigger different responses when they detect changing levels of histamine. The H-1 and H-2 receptors are most commonly targeted for anti-allergy drugs, as they are associated with triggering skin reddening and hives.
The H-1 receptor in the brain makes you feel more alert in the presence of histamine, which is why antihistamine drugs cause drowsiness. This receptor is also responsible for a number of different allergy side effects, including the swelling and constriction of airways. The H-2 receptor is primarily responsible for regulating stomach acid levels, in addition to reddening and swelling of the skin. Zantac, also known generically as Ranitidine, is a medication used to block H-2 receptors in order to decrease stomach acid production for people with peptic ulcers or acid re-flux. Because of its effectiveness at blocking the interaction of histamine with the H-2 receptor, Zantac can also be a viable solution for managing chronic hives.
Zantac works to relieve hives by narrowing the blood vessels, causing a reduction in redness and swelling. A common treatment for chronic hives has historically been the prescription of corticosteroids such as prednisone. Unfortunately, extended use of these drugs have been known to cause insomnia, elevated blood pressure, blurred vision, weight gain, a decrease in bone density, and even psychological effects. Depending on the severity of your hives, a doctor may recommend Zantac in combination with another type of antihistamine, or alone. This can be a good alternative to steroids, as they carry less serious side effects and can be more safely taken over a long period of time. They can also be obtained over the counter, which makes them ideal for self-care as opposed to frequent prescription refills.
People experience different levels of relief through the use of antihistamines and Zantac for hives treatment. In most cases, redness and swelling will at least be partially relieved. Additionally, itchiness may be eased and pain or burning sensations can also subside. Though there is no known cure for chronic hives, medications and careful control of exposure to triggers can help you manage the symptoms until they go away. Zantac, along with other anti-allergy medications, can provide a safe and effective solution for alleviating chronic hives.