I came across this forum after suddenly suffering a serious attack of the hives back in May of this year. The hives occurred exactly the same as many of you described above. Mine started acting up around 10:30pm and would become full blown at 11pm. They looked like large platelets/bumps/bites, very much like a swarm of invisible insects had suddenly attacked me. They itched and burned at the same time, and with much urgency. I would try to ignore the itching, but it would become so intense, that my skin would actually break out in goosebumps from the intensity of the itching. It was unlike anything I'd ever experienced before, including insect bites and prior experience with allergic reactions. The hives also would dissipate at around 1am to 2am, then come back with a vengeance around 4am.
I initially used a poison ivy/insect bite spray to more or less "numb" the affected areas which included my face, genital areas, stomach/waist, inner thighs, calfs, inner part of my knees, inner part of my arms by my armpits, neck, back/lower back. Only my hands and soles of my feet were free of the hives. Even my scalp itched. I then started taking Benadryl at around 10pm, and that helped, but put me to sleep till very late the next day. I am fortunate to not have to work outside my home.
I originally had gone to an endocrinologist near my home, to see what exactly was going on. I also had other symptoms that were strange to me since I'd always been a healthy and strong woman...hardly ever getting sick. I had esophageal spasms (which also turned up in May this year), increased belly fat (could not lose it despite dieting, never had it before, started around 2012), trouble sleeping/staying asleep (had this one for many years), chronic fatigue (had this one for many years unfortunately), foggy headedness (had this one for many years), and some dermatitis (patches of darker itchy skin on my fingers, which only got better and disappeared after treating with prescript
ion grade hydrocortisone, twice daily for maximum 2 weeks a pop), some bouts of low blood sugar/hypoglycemia (which I'd started suffering from in 2007, never had it before then), severe attacks of asthma around 11pm and 4am (was prescribed Asmanex and Proventol, started around 2003??), unexplained infertility (tests showed I should be fine to conceive), headaches (would typically go away after taking a half of a glucose tablet along with a small meal). This endocrinologist was terrible--she tested my cortisol through a blood test (knowing I am terrified of blood and hence my cortisol reading would be high after having the needle injected into my pulsing vein), partially tested my thyroid, tested me for anemia. She then told me I was fine and to stop looking for reasons to be sick. I asked around for recommendations for a new endocrinologist, as I suspected it might have something to do with my thyroid.
A doctor was recommended in southern New Jersey (I live in NY), and my husband and I were desperate enough to make the appointment and go. My husband takes off from work to take me, it is an hour and a half ride down for us, and I wasn't well to drive or take the train alone. I had desperate exhaustion. This doctor, Dr. John Ricci, is great to say the least. He has been very thorough with the testing. This is what he did, what he tested, the plan of action to help me, and how I am now. I last went to Dr. Ricci August 25th, 2014. These are some of the things that were tested (tested after end of menstruation, cannot test during):
- cortisol (by collecting saliva samples every 5 hours for a day). Results are:
morning: 4.1 with range 2.0-11.0
midday: 2.2 with range 1.4-7.2
afternoon: 3.0 with range 1.0-5.2
evening: 1.4 with range 0.8-4.3
Results for cortisol are very low. Proper testing should be done by saliva in this way.
- DHEA (not sure if from saliva samples or from the urine sample I sent). Results: 35.1 with female range <23.8-291.1, male range <23.8-308.8.
- Lipids (blood samples): total cholesterol (high), LDL-C direct (high), HDL-C (very good), triglycerides (intermediate between good and very bad/high), non-HDL-C (high).
- Thyroid (blood samples): TSH, T4, T4 free, T3, T3 free, Reverse T3, T uptake, Anti-Thyroglobulin Antibody, Anti-Thyroid Peroxidase Antibody. All within range.
- HS-Omega-3 Index, RBC EPA+DHA (blood samples). Below healthy range, intermediate level risk.
Note: I haven't listed ALL of the tests taken from the saliva, urine and blood samples. I have several pages of results. They all came out pretty much good so I didn't think I needed to list pages and pages of tests and results.
More info about
myself: late 30's, 5'3", 117lbs (normally 107lbs). Used to love playing sports, volleyball, tennis, biking, kickboxing. Former accounting, management science and chemical engineering student. Went to school while working. Loved learning and self taught myself many times. After beginning to get sick, all of this was gone. My mind was so foggy, I couldn't focus and/or carry an argument. My fatigue made such things as dusting our one bedroom apartment, a dreadful, exhaustive task. I was unable to drive for more than a few minutes without panicking. I needed to sleep several times a day. I gained belly fat that just wouldn't go away. My quality of life...shot.
So the doctor prescribed that day an all natural regimen. This included 2 pills Kavinace a half hour before evening meal and then 2 again at bedtime; DHEA vitamin: 25mg three times a day with meals; and special type folic acid because despite taking large doses of regular over the counter folic acid, I was only absorbing about
50% of it and we are trying to conceive. We want to bring the DHEA to about
100 for me. Doctor also said it looked like my adrenal glands where exhausted. That would explain the low DHEA levels, which my body would naturally produce about
20mg a day I believe, for a woman my age. That would also explain the low levels of cortisol and high levels of bad cholesterol. The adrenal glands convert cholesterol into DHEA. Also, several fertility clinics treat women with DHEA before IVF treatments to raise the level of androgens since trials have shown that women with lower egg count have truly benefited from a DHEA regimen raising their fertility rates to over 20% for women ages 38 and over. No difference for women younger than 38 with healthy egg counts. Some doctors have disputed this though. Here's an article on that:humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/21/11/2845.short
I started the regimen August 26th and this is the results I have gotten so far...
My hives have completely disappeared. No Benadryl taken.
Esophageal spasms have completely disappeared.
My skin has already showed signs of improvement.
No asthma as of yet but I'd like to wait and see what happens through the winter when my asthma seems to kick in more.
I have tons more energy and my mood is elevated. I feel very motivated.
I sleep through the night but have energy still till around 4am, so the Kavinace helps to get me drowsy.
My mind is clear and has become sharper. I also feel I can think faster.
The dark itchy patches on my fingers are still there but I am putting prescript
ion grade hydrocortisone on it at night, covering it with a bandaid, and it has started helping. The patches are slowly beginning to fade.
No more episodes of low blood sugar. I can go over my 3 hour threshold without needing to eat.
DHEA can be dangerous if taken without medical supervision. I highly recommend having a doctor monitor your DHEA intake and although it is sold over the counter for only $4 a bottle at Shoprite, it doesn't mean it can be taken as you would Vitamin C, or other such vitamin. Please google information on DHEA. It helps produce hormones such as androgens, testosterone, estrogen. May not be good for men or women who are predisposed or have had breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer. It isn't good to continue to take once you become pregnant, unless you are closely monitored and your obgyn recommends you take it. It may help produce too much testosterone or too much estrogen in women, depending on how your body reacts and processes the DHEA. Women with PCOS beware, this can make your symptoms worse. DHEA can also interfere with women on birth control. DHEA can also irritate the stomach so should be taken with meals. DHEA can also have an impact on those taking prednisone and such medications. DHEA is banned from certain sports like football, baseball, etc. Here's one article on DHEA, I recommend you read more about
My next appointment is in about
a month, in October. I will try to update my post and update on any other changes/improvements. I really hope I helped in some way. I will try to answer back any replys I get as soon as I am able to.