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Managing Hives & Gluten Allergies

I have a celiac-related condition that causes severe gluten sensitivity and hives.  Two weeks ago, I visited a Naturopathic doctor. She and I talked for nearly three hours. It was a very good meeting where I shared my past physical issues and she took copious notes. When I had finished with my history she told me that my liver was having a hard time detoxifying my blood and that my constant hives were due to the body trying to detoxify through my skin. This was all very interesting but not very helpful. She then gave me some treatments that she said would help my body to detoxify and put me on a very strict diet. In the past I have had this nameless craving for "I don't know what" that I fed with chocolate and sweets. She took me off of all sweets. She also insisted that I learn what is gluten free...that was an education...it's amazing what has gluten in it, but helped me by telling me about a gluten free bakery and grocery in the area.

I had my doubts about whether I could keep to the diet, but hives are a big motivating force. Living with constant hives has been a nightmarish problem. I itch, burn and swell in various places...the hives travel around my body once they get started and nothing seems to rid me of them. Medicine is often only partially effective.

After following the diet as close as I can for the last two weeks, the hives do seem to have reduced. One of the complicating factors is that I am also allergic to cats, dust mites, mold, mildew, latex, spandex, penicillin, kidney beans and black eyed peas. Using mattress barriers, Mite-Nix spray and avoiding clothes with the problem fabrics has helped but it's hard to get rid of all the problems. My best friend bought me a seat cover for airline seats..that helped in travel a lot.

Today, I washed all the floors and cushions to get rid of cat dander and washed the cat with special anti allergy shampoo.

In the last four years I have probably had maybe one or two days completely hive free.  I've pretty much forgotten what it feels like to not itch and want to scratch myself bloody 24/7.  I can't say I'm hive free yet, but there is definitely a change with this treatment. 

She has me taking Anti-hist and UltraInflamX protein powder mix each day.  It does appear to help a lot. 

One of the additives she recommended was magnesium.  Not clear why this was
important but it does appear to be a mitigating factor in this process.  I have also taken a lot of epsom salt baths during this time which is magnesium too.

The problem with this condition is that it is never really clear why the hives are there.  They seem to arrive about and hour to two hours after the exposure and each discovery of the allergen seems to help but never completely rid me of the problem. If I am in public and touch something dirty and then touch my skin before I can wash my hands, an hour later I have a hive there.  One time a boyfriend was the source of the problem...each time he touched my arm or my skin anywhere, I would get a hive.  Never did figure out what he was touching that caused me such a serious problem.  Feathers also caused me a serious outbreak of hives during a trip to China.  So serious I ended up in a Chinese hospital..another nightmare.

A regular allergist did not help a great deal.  He wanted me to take Allegra and Zyrtec together to control the hives.  However, I didn't believe that taking more stuff would be a good idea, knowing what I had been exposed to previously.  I decided to take Claritin only when I couldn't stand it any longer and learned to live with the itching. 

It's only been four years that this has been happening.  Prior to that I knew I was allergic to penicillin only.  Then Latex was identified when I went to the dentist and had a severe reaction in my mouth and throat from his latex gloves. 

This evening I'm sitting on my dining room chair writing this with only one small hive on my shoulder.  It's nice to sit on my furniture without a reaction.  I sprayed Mite-Nix on everything today.  That usually helps a lot with the pet and dust mites problems. 

If you have this condition, don't give up.  I know it's depressing and stressful to have hives so much.  It can really get you down.  I won't say it hasn't been hard because it really has.  On days when my face is swollen up to twice it's normal size and I still have to work and be seen in public, I feel the most depressed.  But those days pass and the hives move to other, unseen parts of the body and I go back to just tolerating the itching.  My hope is that I'll discover all the sources and find ways to eliminate or avoid the problems.  I have to believe that can happen.  Taking one day at a time...one hive at a time.  Not thinking of the future as clouded, that's what keeps me getting up every day. 

As always, Celiac.com welcomes your comments (see below).


Spread The Word



24 Responses:

 
said this on
27 Feb 2009 11:08:14 AM PST
Hi Terri,

You have my deepest sympathies. I've only suffered from hives in a few places for a few years, but it's really irritating to say the least. I am very happy that you're giving up gluten, and hope you'll give up cane sugar as well. Cane sugar is my number one hive reaction. There is a lot more to the hive picture than what you mentioned speaking with your naturopath about. The adrenal system controls our bodies response to allergens and specifically, inflammation, which is what a hive is. If you have adrenal insufficiency (similar to hypothyroidism) your body cannot produce enough cortisol to control inflammation. This is easily checked by doing a series of saliva tests throughout the day to test your adrenal hormone production, along with associated other hormones. The test is not very expensive, and it can be ordered by your naturopath. One of the cardinal signs of adrenal insufficiency is the development of more severe allergic reactions and new allergies to things you were not previously allergic to. I'm willing to bet that you have adrenal insufficiency, or a low cortisol, and that following a program to support and stimulate the adrenals will greatly lessen the severity of your allergic response system. There is also a specific connecition to eating gluten: gluten can trigger autoimmune reactions in the body, and specifically, can affect the adrenal gland. There is even a disorder called autoimmune adrenal hypofunction, and the autoimmune disorder most closely associated with it is Celiac disease.

I don't mean to write a book, but I felt you might be missing this critical piece of information. I have written many articles for celiac.com, and may be excerpting a chapter from a book I'm writing on adrenal fatigue soon. You can find it under my name under 'view authors' in a few weeks.

The best in health,

Wendy Cohan

 
K. Dragon

said this on
05 Jun 2014 2:46:51 PM PST
Thank you for all of the information, you have explained more of what I believe is happening to me, than the doctors that I have paid thousands of dollars to! Thank you! I will be looking into this further. Can you please direct me to some of your other articles regarding adrenal insufficiency? I am very curious.

 
Madonna

said this on
17 Mar 2009 10:20:56 AM PST
Hi! Terri, It sounds like you suffer from a lot of the same things I do and from what I have read over the two years, I see that Wendy offers you great advice. The one thing she left out is that you probably have Dermatitis Herpetiformis. I have it, and celiac disease, and from what I understand it can take up to 2 and 1/2 years for your skin to clear up even after going gluten free. I've been gluten free for almost two and still have flair ups. I think I will take Wendy's advice and look into the adrenal insufficiency.

 
Heather

said this on
31 Aug 2009 1:50:15 AM PST
I offer my sympathy to you Terri. As a child I had very similar problems, but they somewhat improved for a number of years. The frequency and size of my outbreaks have recently increased drastically. For me it is difficult to manage at times, so what you have been suffering through must be unbearable! With great sincerity I hope you are able to find the causes and live happy and hive free!!

 
Jamaica

said this on
25 Mar 2011 8:44:57 AM PST
Thank you for the information. I'm going on 6 weeks of severe, constant hives which seemed to start after taking an Acai Berry supplement. Had plenty of tests done with no answers, have not been tested for Gluten Allergies. I think that'll be my next step, in addition to trying to avoid gluten on my own to see if it'll help. Good luck.

 
debi

said this on
28 Mar 2011 5:59:56 AM PST
Terri! What a wonderful article. You sound like a CARBON coby of myself. . .from eating everything candy and chocolate to hives appearing out of nowhere and Drs recommending Allegra, Zyrtec and Clartin. . .all of wh ich I've taken. Currently taking generic zyrtec. My hives have been with me for over 15 years and my Allergist said the same thing. . .I may have to live with them and continue taking meds. I did not, however, speak to a Dr. who recommended a gluten free diet and to stay of the chocs. I'm doing my research on gluten and finding that it's not for everyone. In addition to hives I also suffer from acid reflux so breads are big no no - which may have something to do with the gluten. Thank you for this information and I pray that everyone suffering with this condition will soon be cured. It's is so annoying.

 
Judy

said this on
05 Apr 2011 9:34:22 PM PST
Hi! I broke out with hives when my son was 2. He turned 22 on January 23. Yip. 20 years. My daughter was placed on a gluten free diet the first of they year and has had good results with some health problems. She mentioned it to me to try gluten free and see. I have always wondered if they had something to do with my liver, so it was interesting reading your post. I am going to try gluten free and see if it works. I have had hives for 20 years and I am so tired of it!

 
anna

said this on
01 Sep 2011 12:00:11 AM PST
I have also had hives for over 20 years. After giving up on allergists who helped relieve the symptoms I took things into my own hands. I competed an elimination diet and found that I have many food intolerances - dairy, amines and preservatives/additives. When I eliminated these I was clear of hives. I have introduced these products back into my diet but I do limit them. It is difficult to live on such a strict diet. I am now researching gluten. I have been tested for celiac which I am not but I believe there is some connection there. I have been on a very low carb diet for 3 weeks and have only had 1 flare up of hives. I have also increased my intake of water 8-10 glasses a day and had 3 colon irrigation treatments. I think I am onto something, don't know what but I will persist until I am hive free. 23 years of this is enough.

 
Drew

said this on
09 Sep 2011 8:24:01 AM PST
I get hives daily, and probably have a gluten allergy that is undiagnosed because I found a solution that works for me with regard to not having to suffer with the hives. I take Niacin and the flushing action pushes everything through my blood stream and seems to keep the hives in check. At first the flush from the niacin feels like an intense sunburn that lasted an hour or sometimes longer, eventually I got used to the burn, and even enjoyed it, but your body after a few weeks begins to grow a tolerance and the flush is no biggie - this works for me at least.

 
Susan

said this on
09 Jan 2012 3:50:22 PM PST
Having hives can ruin your life! I have had chronic uticara hives off and on and mostly on for 26years. I have had many blood test, been on diets, acupuncture, special baths and on and on. My only cure just to relieve the hives is taking Predinsone which causes a lot of side effects over long time use. Doctors have given up on me. I have scars all over my body from itching, it is no way to live, I've even thought the worse. I'm going to try the gluten free diet faithfully and hope it will relieve my hives that have made my life absolutely miserable.

 
Eve

said this on
29 Jan 2012 11:15:36 PM PST
Hi everyone! I am so glad to find people like myself. I've only had hives for 5 years... I must admit it gets frustrating some days; only recently I started investigating if celiac might be a root cause. So far not much support from docs who think that a) it's a Caucasian thing (I'm non-Caucasian) and b) it's not related to skin diseases. And c), it's not life-threatening so I should just learn to live with it.

At moments I've gotten near-obsessive reading up - when I feel the situation is ridiculous: spending money every 20 days for a new box of Zyrtec (or generic), putting up with the itch, the uncertainty of not knowing what's wrong and having docs brush you off, sleep interrupted by the irritating itch...

A certain Dr. Levine suggested apple cider vinegar can help; for me it did limit the itching (1 dose in the morning in a glass of water, and 1 at night), though I stopped because I was concerned about the acid intake.

All the best to all of you in this forum. It's just a relief to know there are others. God bless you all in your search. It helps to be able to share info too! If the docs can't work it out, we will.

 
dina

said this on
12 Nov 2012 11:20:11 AM PST
Just wondering if the gluten-free diet helped you at all? I too do not want to take Prednisone too much longer, as it's making my hair thin out.
Let me know how you are doing, or if you are taking anything that helps. Thank you!

 
Melissa

said this on
05 Apr 2012 9:44:24 PM PST
Hi, I have been braking out in hives now for going on 4 months now and have been miserable. I can not imagine going on like this for years at a time. I have been seeing an allergist who has me on several antihistamine plus I have gone through 4 cycles of prednisone and as soon as I get off I break out the next day. I do not want to stay on the steroids because of all of the side effects and am looking for any advise on what to try. I don't think that she checked for a gluten allergy so that will be my next step. One thing that I did find helpful on my one is taking a Zertek at 5am, which is right before my hives flair up between 5:00 & 6:00 in the morning; I did not hear my alarm today so I am completely covered head to toe in hives.
Hope this helps someone else.

 
Tania

said this on
19 Dec 2013 6:22:59 PM PST
You've got go to a natural doctor, medication from western doctors are band-aid solutions and often don't even help us hive suffers. The problem is your body is our of balance your skin is the last way your body can get rid of the toxins inside, your body is trying to tell you something. Only holistic doctors deal with the root of the problem, Chinese medicine and irridology , homeopathy & naturopathy or some alternatives.

 
Toni

said this on
11 Apr 2012 10:13:44 AM PST
I have been breaking out in hives since 1986. back then they said it was allergy to beef, after a year of doing blood tests. hives went away when i eliminated beef. a few years later, I tried beef again, as my doctor had said the body chemistry changes every few years and food allergies can disappear. after that i would still break out occasionally, but it wasn't always after having beef. there have been long stretches of time with either minimal breakouts, or no breakouts, but in the past five years or so, they have gotten worse again. I am back to having them pretty much daily if I do not take a Zyrtec morning and night every single day. As I write this, I am itchy from head to toe and speckled all over my very white skin with bright pink splotches. It's not fun, but I have learned to live with it as the medical community seems to not care too much about anyone with this condition.
Good luck to you all. You have my sympathies and encouragement to continue in your fight to survive this malady.
p.s. I am almost certain mine is gluten related as well. I had forgotten to mention that in my post above.

 
diana

said this on
12 Apr 2012 6:34:48 AM PST
My hives are hard and big. some are spaced out and some in clusters. Antihistamines are of no use and may make it worse.
They will end up all over my body as I begin the day scratching. It is getting worse and embarrassing. I have gone to the ER when I'm scared of going into shock,13 years of this and my primary care doctor is old and can't give me a recommendation of who to see. I am not nauseous. Antihistamines do nothing.
Please tell me what kind of doctor to see. I also may be diabetic, I had a test and they lost the results. It is time for me to get serious. I drag my feet because I can't afford a lot of tests that lead to no results. I need a new doctor. Where do I start to get comprehensive tests and does Medicare pay for any of this. Each batch of hives gets larger and at night my blood pressure is around 186/120.I'm a mess.

 
Allison

said this on
06 Aug 2012 6:00:38 PM PST
Hi! I can't tell if my hives are a different story or not. I had hives 2 years ago when I moved to Charleston, South Carolina. (I just assumed it was heat related and called it heat rash-even though they're hives/welts.) After taking Benadryl and all kinds of things to help the itching subside, I came to the conclusion that Claritin was the only thing that helped. Then, I went to Colorado for a wedding for about a week and they went away. When I came back to Charleston, I didn't take my allergy pill just to see what would happen and they were gone. It is now 2 years later and about a month ago, I woke up with hives all over the back of my legs and on my butt (sorry to be graphic). After I take a Claritin every morning, they seem to go away but without fail, I wake up with them every morning. I don't understand how they went away for so long, and all of a sudden they came back! I have not tried a gluten-free diet yet (and I don't really want to) but my chiropractor recommended it to me today. After reading all your posts, it seems like it may be something to try. Maybe I should get tested from an allergist first and see what those results come back saying. I will definitely be back on here to see if anyone has recommendations or thoughts about why it went away and suddenly came back. Has anyone ever heard of that before? Thoughts are welcome! Glad I'm not alone in the hive battle. Ugh...

 
Ruth Galea

said this on
29 Dec 2012 12:30:51 AM PST
Hi!! I've been having hives since May. I've been given all sorts of antihystamines, which didn't work at all and steroids for 3 months, and also did all sorts of blood tests. Sometimes I used to have a flare up and I even couldn't breathe properly. I have been going to dermatologists who diagnosed me as having Chronic Urthicaria and was told to try to learn to live with it as there is nothing else to do. Having this condition is unbearable; I have itching all the time, I used to have a low grade fever and even joint pains. I then went to a homeopath... since then I've given up all the steroids and antihystamines. Now I take the remedies he prescribed and also did an enema and liver detox. I also did a food intolerance test, which showed that I was intolerant to gluten, lactose, nuts and seafood. I've given up on these and my life GOT SO MUCH BETTER. I am practically hives free... I still have some especially during this time of year, when I'm eating some treats which may contain some traces to which I am intolerant. I hope you all get better. When I look at the photos I took when I had all the hives, I cannot believe I am this much better, considering I've been told that there's nothing more to do, and you have to learn to live with all that burning, itching, discomfort and no sleep... in my case, it seems that what I was eating was making me sick. Wish you all the luck...

 
Chris

said this on
13 Jan 2013 6:13:06 PM PST
Hi there,

I just wanted to say it is so nice to hear that I am not the only one with hives - feel like such an odd bod some days. Am sorry to hear you all suffer from this horrendous ailment though - it really does suck. I suffered for about recurring hives from about my mid 20's until about 2 years ago (am now early 30's) and had always put it down to a hayfever reaction and "that time of year". Went to lots of different doctors and always prescribed the usual creams and pills. Nothing really worked and it seemed that each year it just got that little bit worse. 2 years ago, it was so bad I trotted off to a naturopath for the first time ever. Changed my life! I was at the point where I was covered in angry red hives all over my neck and arms, and a little bit on my lower back and just below my eyes on my cheeks. I also had lots of tiny little fluid-filled bubbles across my knuckles and along the edges of my fingers. They would itch, I'd pop the bubbles and then it would heal. So, had a long chat with the naturopath (he was AMAZING) - family health history, my medical history etc etc. Long story short, he recommended that I cut out gluten (apparently the bubbles across my knuckles were a dead giveaway that I had a gluten intolerance) and see how that worked. He also gave me this hideous green herbal tonic to drink 3 times a day (for 2 weeks) plus some liver detox tablets. Wouldn't you know it, within 2-3 days - hives, runny nose, knuckle bubbles were all gone. Like I said, changed my life. Since then, I'm pretty good at maintaining a gluten free existence and my usual yearly hayfever hell is so much better. In fact, I didn't even really suffer from it in spring 2012 - the occasional sneeze and runny nose but nowhere near the mess I usually am. Sometimes I do crave bread or some other gluten laden treat and will indulge but man, do I pay for it in the days following! In fact, currently sitting here now with a right arm covered in red and itchy hivey welts - result of indulging in some sourdough bread at a friend's house the other night (looked/tasted SO good!). That was Tuesday. It's taken what will probably be longer than a week to recover from.

So, anyway, gluten free living has made me feel semi-sane again!
Hope it works for you. Oh - I also dropped a few kilos the first few weeks of cutting out gluten too. Bonus!

 
Jann

said this on
19 Feb 2014 11:12:41 AM PST
Can you tell me what the green herbal drink and the liver detox pills were?

 
Susan

said this on
26 Mar 2013 6:16:03 AM PST
Hi, I've been dealing with hives for the past 6 years. I was wondering if you ever had a blood test to have your ana level checked. Mine was high and so it was determined that my hives are autoimmune. I have chronic urticaria as well as delayed pressure urticaria. I was told that basically I'm allergic to myself. I was prescribed plaquenil which is an anti-malaria drug. It takes about 6 months for it to "kick in" and help. I was taking it for several years and one day realized that I had not seen a single hive for a while. I thought I had "outgrown" my problem so I stopped taking the pills. It must have taken a while for the drug to get out of my system because the hives eventually came back. Now I'm back on it and waiting for it to "kick in" again. Plaquenil has been a lifesaver for me in the past and I'm hoping it will be again this time around too. I have not had any side effects. You just have to get regular eye check ups because of a very slim chance of it causing damage. I didn't read through all of the responses but I did skim and had not seen anyone suggest this. I hope it helps.

 
Valerie

said this on
02 Nov 2013 8:19:33 PM PST
For the past two weeks I have been suffering from hives. They pop up after I eat and itch like crazy! I'm covered in them tonight. I have read everyone's post on here and I feel so bad for anyone going through this. This sucks! Time to take some more Benadryl I guess.

 
cristi

said this on
14 Nov 2013 5:06:07 PM PST
See Uticaria Vasculitis.... My dad had horrible rashes among other disabling symptoms for over a year. He was treated for some time for this condition by a rhuematologist and is now free of hives.

 
Megha Arraj

said this on
16 Apr 2014 2:41:44 AM PST
Cold pressed black cumin seed oil might help a lot. Try one teaspoon first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and try to wait 30 min at least before eating. I also take flax oil later in the day too to balance the omega ratios. Blessings!




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