Fibromyalgia seems to come with an almost unending list of additional side effects. From chronic itching to frequent urination, it seems like the fresh miseries of fibromyalgia never end. And in case you were looking for a new side effect to add to your list, how about urticaria.
Urticaria, commonly called hives, is a skin condition that seems to affect people with fibromyalgia frequently. There are a number of different reasons that fibromyalgia might lead to hives. But to understand why, it’s helpful to ask what exactly causes hives? ? How is it related to fibromyalgia? And what can you do to treat it?
WHAT CAUSES URTICARIA?
Urticaria is a skin condition that causes a vascular reaction leading to smooth swollen plaques in the skin. The swelling is usually red and itchy, which can make the condition maddening to deal with. There are a lot of different things that can cause hives, and nailing down the cause of a single episode of hives can be difficult.
Usually, hives are a symptom of an allergic reaction. These can be seasonal allergies, food allergies, or even allergies to certain medications. These things trigger a response in the bodies of certain people where their cells begin to release a hormone called histamines. These histamines cause your small blood cells to release a clear fluid called plasma that builds up under the skin, causing hives.
There are two different kinds of hives: acute and chronic.
The type of hives caused by allergies falls into the acute category, which describes sudden attacks of hives in response to specific stimuli. But in certain cases, attacks of hives can last up to six weeks, at which point the condition enters the chronic stage. Chronic urticaria is almost never the result of allergies, but rather certain medical conditions like hyperthyroidism.
And this is by far the most common type of hives for people with fibromyalgia.
URTICARIA AND FIBROMYALGIA
We aren’t sure what the precise link is between hives and fibromyalgia, but we do know that there does seem to be one. And there are a few possible reasons for that.
To begin with, people with fibromyalgia tend to take a lot of over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin or ibuprofen, both of which can frequently result in hives.
But stress may be more important to explain the link between hives and fibromyalgia. Chronic hives are frequently caused by excessive amounts of stress. And people with fibromyalgia are obviously under a tremendous amount of stress on a daily basis. Trying to manage the chronic pain and fatigue and still having to live a normal life in a world that is never going to stop to give you the break you need to manage your symptoms would have anyone tearing their hair out.
Add to that the social isolation and strained relationships that fibromyalgia can cause and it’s easy to see how all that stress may be the root cause of hives for fibromyalgia sufferers.
HOW CAN YOU TREAT IT?
Antihistamines are medications designed to combat the natural hormones that lead to hives in the first place, histamines. And there are a number of different kinds. Over-the-counter antihistamines like Benadryl are often pretty effective for treating hives. And you can also pick up a topical antihistamine that you rub directly onto the affected area for some relief.
But beyond that, one of the best ways to manage chronic urticaria is by managing your stress levels. Makes sense, right? Stress leads to hives, so if you can eliminate stress, you’ll eliminate the hives. Practice good mental wellness to limit the stress of fibromyalgia. And regular, low-impact exercise is also a great way to relieve tension and blow off a little steam. Not only that, but good diet and exercise are also vital to managing fibromyalgia symptoms, which will leave you feeling better and less stressed out.
Finally, it might be worth heading to a doctor to get your hives checked out. A doctor can prescribe a stronger antihistamine which might be able to resolve the symptoms if the over-the-counter stuff doesn’t work. And depending on the frequency and duration of your hives, it’s possible that you might actually just be suffering from allergies. Your doctor can test to determine if there is an allergic component to your hives and give you tips on what to avoid.
But let us know: do you have hives? Do they seem to be related to your fibromyalgia? What treatment works for you? What doesn’t? Tell us in the comments