Chronic hives are unsightly red patches which are often seen as a result of allergic reactions. But what if it is caused by an underlying reason, such as thyroid problem?
Studies suggest that some people who have hives also have hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease.
Chronic Hives – Its Origin and Clinical Names
The medical term for hives is Urticaria. Hives is a skin condition evidenced by pink or red raised swellings, which are also called wheals. These welts are smooth to touch and circular in shape. They are often itchy or have a burning sensation.
Hives appear on any part of the human body, and they can join and form clustered areas called plaques. Hives disappear on their own after a few hours. However, new ones may appear again, and the cycle continues.
There are cases wherein the urticaria is chronic, which means the person has hives on a daily basis for more than six weeks. This could be attributed to food allergy – usually to nuts and seafood. It could also be caused by stress, or environmental allergens, such as pollen grains, dust, and dirt.
When the source is unidentifiable, it is called Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria.
Chronic hives happen when histamines are always present in the bloodstream. Histamines are released by the body when it feels that there is a threat, such as allergens, causing inflammation or swelling in some areas of the body.
It is a response of the body to protect itself. Some hives are accompanied by angioedema or the swelling of the throat and tongue.
Urticaria is pretty common, with around 20% of the population having this condition. Around 25% of the cases have chronic urticaria, while 75% of them have considered their condition as idiopathic in nature.
Thyroid Gland’s Functions and Common Dysfunctions
How about the thyroid then? The thyroid gland is located at the base of the neck of an individual. It is a two-inch, butterfly-shaped organ near the throat. It is a vital part of the body’s endocrine system because it regulates the release of hormones for metabolism control of the body.
Despite this organ’s small size, it is vital because it controls basic bodily functions, including breathing, heart rate, cholesterol levels, body temperatures, and more!
The most common issue with this organ involves the imbalance in the release of Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4). Imbalance of these two may usually result to either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. However, there are other problems encountered by the thyroid gland, one of which is the Hashimoto’s disease.
It happens when the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism. On the other hand, the thyroid can enlarge and cause hyperthyroidism, which is caused by Grave’s disease.
Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria and Thyroid Dysfunction
Chronic idiopathic urticaria is associated with autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, erythematosus, Sjogren’s syndrome, Type 1 diabetes, and thyroid diseases among others.
The key factor here is the thyroid autoimmunity of the person. Thyroid autoimmunity leads to the formation of thyroid autoantibodies. This dysfunction, in turn, reflects on the presence of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is hypothyroidism.
The link between chronic hives and autoimmune thyroid disease is uncertain, although, research shows that around 45 – 55% of the people that already have autoimmune condition also have Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria.
Studies show that there is a high prevalence of dysfunction of the thyroid and Hashimoto’s disease in patients that have chronic hives. The percentage increased if the hives were accompanied by the thyroid autoantibodies.
A study done in 1983 observed that 12% of the patients with hives were also patients with autoimmune thyroiditis. However, the mechanism that links the connection between thyroid autoimmunity and chronic hives is still unknown and needs further studies.
Treatment of Hives and Connection with Thyroid Dysfunction
Hives could be cured by over-the-counter prescription treatments. They could come in the form of creams, pills, or homeopathic remedies. The most common remedy is the antihistamine medicine, which is also an over-the-counter medicine.
A recent study conducted last 2016 aimed to determine the reaction of urticaria of the patients when the thyroid dysfunction is treated. The result of their studies showed that two out of 10 patients that have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis showed improved urticaria, while none of five patients with Grave’s disease showed improvement.
The mechanism which explains the relationship between anti-thyroid drugs and reduced urticaria is still unexplained. Further studies must be conducted to prove further the possibility of curing urticaria when the thyroid dysfunction is treated.
For the time being, separate treatments could be done for both hives and thyroid dysfunction. If you have chronic hives, have your thyroid checked for any irregularities. It is also good to avoid allergens and stressors. These practices will increase the chances of the prevention of chronic hives.