Between the 13th of June and the 13th of July 2014, I developed Cholinergic Urticara. After a bit of digging I found this website and also noticed I had a lot in common with Hivesguy’s story about CU and its relation to Visceral fat and have started changing my lifestyle in order to overcome this condition.
I had always been a pretty skinny kid, but also always had a bit of a belly. Prior to CU being an issue at all, I had been attempting a bulking lifestyle in order to gain weight. I started lifting weights and employing a “gain weight at any cost” mentality. It was reckless of me and unhealthy at the time. I was eating pizza, chocolate milk, all kinds of unhealthy food to gain weight. This never really worked out for me as my diet and exercise were inconsistent… needless to say, I never saw any significant or lasting change in my body shape. However I did gain a fair amount of fat. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess I was sitting at about 19-25% body fat. I was “skinny-fat.” I didn’t really *look* fat, but did have a fair amount of visceral fat.
I was lazy and never really learnt how to cook, so after moving out of home my diet became mostly frozen foods that I would heat up. Looking back I now see this was not good, and I was eating a lot of preservatives and generally unhealthy foods.
A few months after this period I moved to a new house and my health mentally and physically took a turn for the worse. I was not taking care of myself. I had been feeling pretty down about university and work. My eating habits during this period were not healthy at all. I was eating a lot of fast food. There was a lot of fast food around the area and I relied on it for most of my meals.
Next, the world cup started. My sleeping pattern was inconsistent and I had become very lazy. I live in Australia so the matches were on very late. I was not living a healthy lifestyle. I now no longer exercised, ate a lot of takeaway food, and slept at all kinds of hours. Furthermore the winter was very cold and dry. I remember thinking I need to buy a humidifier due to the dryness of my skin and room. It was during this time I developed Cholinergic Urticaria. I’m not sure exactly what causes the condition, but for me it seemed like a ‘perfect storm’. New environment, dry, cold weather. Poor diet, no exercise.
Initially I was unsure as to what was triggering this itch. Initially it was just an itch, no hives. It was winter, so I did not notice it a lot. I was feeling pretty down during this time and spent most of my time inside my house, playing video games. I also had a sedentary job and worked nights, so I didn’t notice it.
The itch started becoming prominent during the final of the world cup, July 17. As I was driving home from viewing the final that morning I got really itchy and knew I needed to figure out what was causing this.
My initial thought was washing powder was causing the itch. I had recently done some washing at my parents house and thought that was the cause. In the following few days I washed all of my clothes again. Furthermore I changed the soap I was using. It was around this time, I noticed it was no longer just an itch, but I was now getting full-blown hives.
After this change to no avail I started noticing that I would get this itch during stressful or anxious moments. I did some research and noticed some people who have anxiety get hives. I then started thinking I may have anxiety and got hives from this. For a while I believed it was stress and anxiety related.
As the weather started heating up. The attacks got worse. I got even more down and depressed and spent most of my time in my room, avoiding any discomfort. It was around this time I discovered what I actually had: CU Hives.
I tried going to the sauna as many people on the website have recommended. It was helpful. Unfortunately for me, it was too expensive and too far away to justify going multiple times a week.
I tried doing some exercise but found it very difficult and I couldn’t break a sweat. I only did this for a few days and stopped.
However after reading Hivesguy’s story I can very much relate to it and believe that CU Hives maybe related to Visceral fat causing somekind of inflammation. This story motivated me to change my lifestyle.
I then went to a doctor. Doctor recommended some antihistamines. I found Zyrtec to help, although in the past this has often wore off for me very quickly. After reading Hivesguy’s story I figured I have a small window of opportunity here that I need to take advantage of. In the past Zyrtec and most antihistamines lose their effectiveness on me quite quickly. So I started working out again. I have a gym membership which I hadn’t used in about 7 months. I took a Zyrtec in the morning and went to the Gym. I really wanted to try and break a sweat. After about 15min on the treadmill at a reasonable intensity I broke a sweat. I was very relieved. The anti-histamine helped negate the pain. I still got fairly itchy but thankfully it wasn’t a full-blown attack and I could push through.
I have fixed up my diet and now go to the gym almost everyday. I do weight training 3-4 times a week and cardio most days. Sweating is not a lot easier. I also have started to notice the hives are rarely appearing now. I still get the itch, but its not a debilitating itch like it has been in the past. I can cope with it. I hope this will subside in the coming weeks.
At the moment I’m doing a weight loss diet, and due to the diet change I am cooking as opposed to putting frozen food in the oven every night. This all happened very quickly for me, it has only been a couple of weeks. That said, I have only had CU for maybe 3 months. I’m currently sitting at approximately 16-19% body fat.
Currently on a weight lose diet, eating about 2000 cal per day: 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fats.
It’s still early days, but things are looking up. I would encourage you to try and exercise. Hopefully if you have an antihistamine that works for you it can help you push through. I would recommend a treadmill or something similar as I tried running and was physically not fit enough to keep going. With a treadmill its a lot easier to keep going than running on pavement.
I’ll keep you guys updated for the future. I still have CU Hives, but its much better than before. I don’t get hives, just a slight itchiness.