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Dealing With Allergies - Help with Hives

Feb 1, 2008
Hives are one of the unfortunate side effects of many allergies. These annoying pink bumps and raised patches aren't just unsightly - they're also very itchy, burning and stingy!

Hives can pop up anywhere on your body after coming in contact with, or eating something that turns your immune system into overdrive, causing an allergic reaction. They may be relatively small (like a mosquito bite), or big like a dinner plate. Hives may also come in groups or clusters.

Many people associate eating acidic foods like fresh tomatoes or strawberries with hives, but did you know that virtually any food or allergen could cause these itchy bumps to occur? It really just depends on how your body reacts (or over reacts) to the allergens it comes in contact with. While one person may experience itchy watery eyes and a runny nose from pollen, another may get hives!

Are hives very common? Yes! It is estimated that as many as 25% of us will get them at least once in our lives.

When you're exposed to something that can trigger hives, the cells in your body begin to release a chemical called histamine, which causes fluid to leak from the small blood vessels under the skin. When this fluid collects under the skin, it forms the blotches we call hives.

The most common cause of hives is an allergic reaction to an insect bite, food, or some other allergen. But other things can cause hives to. They include:

-Exposure to the cold (like diving into a cold pool).
-Exercise.
-The sun.
-Stress.
-Infections caused by viruses.

No matter what the cause, a case of hives can last for a few minutes, a few hours, or even a few long days.

Antihistamines can be used to alleviate the itchiness and burning of hives, but they usually go away all by themselves in a few hours, or a few days. Sometimes a stronger prescription medication is needed, however, to alleviate the discomfort of hives.

It is rare, but hives can sometimes be a sign of a more serious allergic reaction that can affect breathing and other body functions. If someone you know exhibits any signs of breathing trouble (a tight chest, swollen throat; raspy voice or wheezing), after you've noticed hives appearing, get medical help immediately! If the allergic reaction begins to constrict their throat, it can prevent enough air from getting into the lungs within minutes. Some people who know they have these serious reactions carry a one-shot pen like dose of epinephrine with them called an Epi-pen. Although it will ease their discomfort, they still must get to a hospital right away.

As you can see, hives can be more than juts an itchy annoyance. When coupled with a severe allergy, they can be life threatening. The important thing to remember is that in most cases, they are a temporary reaction to something you've touched or eaten and will go away with little if any attention or medication.
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