Urticaria or more commonly know as Hives is usually associated with Angiodema. Urticaria is a skin rash, that is an outbreak of red patchs, lumps or welts found on the skin. They will appear suddenly and commonly cause itchiness in specific places, less frequently these can burn or sting. Hives can break out anywhere on the body and can vary in size from a pea to a football, they can join together to form larger areas which are know as plaques. Most cases will last for less than a day, however some will last longer.

Angiodema is similar to urticaria, however it is usually only seen in selected areas on the body. These common areas are on the face, such as mouth, eyes, lips, hands and feet however these can appear anywhere on the body. The difference between the two is that with Angiodema the hives will appear deeper under the skin and will usually look like those areas are swollen.

There are many different reasons for Angioedema and Urticaria to develop on the body, most of the common causes are food allergies. However there are other causes such as environmental reactions. These environmental reactions can be caused by the weather or similar allergens to heyfever, such as cut grass and pollen etc.

I’ve suffered from Angioedema and Utricaria for 17 years, however it hasn’t been consistent. I first developed Urticaria when I moved house and we had a large Willow tree in the garden. After a few years of having unexplained swollen lips and eyes, and a rash we were referred to a doctor to take some blood tests to try and find where the issue lay. Unfortunately nothing ever came of this, tests were taken and questions were asked, medication was given and nothing got rid of it. For many years I had never developed Angioedema (no swollen lips/eyes etc) however I commonly had Urticaria which I have learnt to deal with over time. For many of these years I tried different medication to try and settle it. Learning about Urticaria, found that anti-histamine tablets should solve it, however after trying such anti-histamines like Clarytin, Cetirizine and Loretadine. After trying these for different periods of time none of them seemed to really cure the issue.

By this time last year, I had genuinely learnt just to cope with it as it had settled down somewhat. I would only tend to get Urticaria if I was cold, wet, around cut grass and the odd unexplained outbreak here and there. Not being able to avoid much of this I just learnt to cope and get on with life. That was fine until the beginning of this year, where suddenly both Angioedema and Urticaria hit back, hard! There times where I would have Hives for weeks, swollen lips/eyes/hands for days, it got to that stage where it was uncomfortable and something had to be done. I had visited the doctor again and was given some more Loretadine, however this proved useless. I had tried a low-histamine diet which seemed to help gradually however I was still getting outbreaks. I also tried other medication like Nettle Extract, Bromlain (Pineapple Extract) and large doses of Vitamin C. Together nothing really came from these either.

I had heard about severe cases of Angiodema causing the mouth and tongue to swell causing a blocked airway. I found myself going to A&E at 11pm on a monday night due to a swollen lip. My lip had been swollen since I woke up that morning as was getting worse over time. It got to the stage where I felt like I wouldn’t want to sleep because I could be putting myself in danger. Whilst speaking to a Doctor at the hospital he said it would be best if I took  Prednisolone Steroids (which lower white blood cells and antibody formation) and another anti-histamine via and IV. I was then prescribed Prednisolone for 3 further days and Fexofenadine for two weeks. Fexofenadine is currently the highest legal strength anti-histamine allowed which comes in either 120mg or 180mg. I have been prescribed 180mg to take for two weeks. After consulting my GP about the situation I have been prescribed a further 3 months worth of these. The Fexofenadine is a H1 blocker, and with this a H2 blocker should also be taken. Ranitidine was also prescribed to me for 3 months which is there to block the action of histamine release.

Following on from the Prednisolone and Fexofenadine I feel better, however have still had some outbreaks. I have been recommended to create a food diary to try and find a pattern as to when these outbreaks occur. Hopefully a pattern will emerge and something can be done about it.

If you have suffered from any of the above, please consult your GP. Most of this medication is not available over the counter for a good reason. Always consult you GP before taking any of the above medication.