Chronic urticaria: how does it affect your quality of life?
Chronic urticaria is a more frequent condition than one would think. In the world it is estimated that 1% of the population suffers from it, without significant variations between different regions. The most affected are women, between thirty and fifty.
It is called urticaria to the appearance of reddish welts on the skin, accompanied by intense itching. These welts are of different sizes to each other and can appear and disappear suddenly, as if they changed of place.
The common urticaria becomes chronic urticaria when it is prolonged over time. Clinically, to diagnose it, the patient must have had it for more than six weeks in a year, even considering the intermediate times without visible injuries.
The alteration that chronic urticaria causes in people with this pathology is easily recognizable. The alteration of the quality of life is logical given the discomfort it causes. The constant itching alters the person's sleep and the whole routine of daily activities.
The causal origin of this pathology is unknown, but it is understood that the treatment has to do with controlling the reactive allergic reaction of the body. This is usually indicated antihistamine drugs and hygienic-dietary measures.
Symptoms of chronic urticaria
The characteristic sign of the disease are reddish welts on the skin, with no special predilection for any specific part of the body. It is constant, on the other hand, the change in the places of appearance and the different sizes of the welts.
However, as not all hives that appear in the body are caused by chronic urticaria, this is the list of symptoms that is considered for the clinical diagnosis:
- Hives of red color in any sector of the body.
- Variable appearance of the hives with different shape, in a pattern of appearance and disappearance.
- Swelling in some area of the skin along with the appearance of the hives.
- Relationship of the appearance of the hives with some trigger such as situations of stress or exposure to heat.
- Pruritus intense: itching
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Chronic urticaria and quality of life
More than half of patients suffering from chronic urticaria are affected their social life, reducing participation in events and meetings with family and friends. Also, more than half of them feel that their sex life is affected by the aesthetic issue.
But not only negative results are seen in these aspects, but also the work is part of the problem. 25% of patients miss their work almost once a month. In fact, an association has been found between greater affectation of the quality of life and lower economic income.
The role played by the close circle in patients with chronic urticaria is very important. They must know the pathology and its manifestations to avoid manners and gestures of rejection that can undermine self-esteem. When personal contempt increases, there is less possibility of adherence to treatments.
Stress situations can worsen the chronic urticaria symptoms. Even a small effect, such as increased scratching due to anxiety, is a cause of complications, as it could result in a skin lesion that subsequently becomes infected.
It is such the affectation of the daily life that registers between the patients, that part of the medical evaluation, according to the world-wide protocols on the matter, consists in apply quality of life measurement instruments to know in depth the patient's condition.
One of the bases of treatment for chronic urticaria is the prescription of antiallergic drugs. Among them, the most commonly used are antihistamines. Here we have two groups and options: those that produce drowsiness and those that do not.
Between the antihistamines that produce drowsiness We can mention:
Among those with fewer side effects, perhaps the best known is loratadine, located in the same group as fexofenadine and cetirizine.
If the dermal lesions involve blunt inflammation, corticosteroids can be prescribed as anti-inflammatory. They are medicines with a reduced and punctual use in time, due to their adverse effects. The most indicated is usually prednisone.
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Beyond the medication, the hygienic-dietetic measures are fundamental for the improvement of the quality of life of patients with chronic urticaria. It will be these measures that contain the long-term symptoms.
Between the non-pharmacological indications we can mention as the most important:
- Avoid soaps that are not neutral and that can irritate the skin more.
- Use moisturizing creams to maintain dermal hydration.
- Wear clothing that does not fit and to keep it loose avoiding rubbing.
- Put on sunscreen to be outdoors, even on days that do not seem so sunny.
- If there are known triggers, avoid them.
All these combined measures, although they will not cure the disease, will help to improve the quality of life in order to develop the activities of daily life in the best possible way. It is important that the disease does not become incapacitating, nor a reason for distancing from personal relationships.