My “stomach issues” always have me wondering if how they are connected with Cholinergic Urticaria. When my stomach feels bloated, achy, or crampy, I usually have a more intense level of hives.
In contrast, when my stomach feels really great and my digestion is great as well, my hives seem to be a lot less intense. This has always puzzled me, and I have often thought that perhaps it was just due to a food allergy, or just a coincidence.
After some research, however, there could be another possible explanation which could count for all of my symptoms (hives included). What is it? Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Inflammatory bowel disease is any type of bowel disease which leads to inflammation of the intestines (small or large). There are many different diseases that fall into this category such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and more.
Some of the symptoms of IBD include: abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, hematochezia (bright red blood in stools), weight loss and various associated complaints or diseases like arthritis, pyoderma gangrenosum, skin symptoms (such as hives or rashes), and primary sclerosing cholangitis.
I have many of those symptoms that are listed. The main symptoms I tend to get are frequent gas/bloating, severe stomach cramps, and occasional diarrhea (no blood).
I have now been on a very healthy diet for about 4 days now, and my stomach is still somewhat bloated and uncomfortable at times, and when I press down it sorta hurts (although no diarrhea thank goodness).
I am still unsure what I may have (Crohn’s, food allergies, etc.), but something is definitely inflaming and irritating my bowels, and my digestive system has not been very good for years, and sadly, is getting progressively worse.
Could Crohn’s or Inflammatory Bowel Disease Be Linked to Cholinergic Urticaria?
Here are some interesting things I found that tend to overlap with cholinergic urticaria or my stomach issues in general:
- Inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn’s, etc.) tends to flare up and go into remissions. So the disease can come and go over the course of years. Cholinergic urticaria seems to work in a similar way.
- My stomach seems to get better when I remove certain foods from my diet (such as dairy). However, IBD can also be improved by removing foods such as dairy.
- There seems to be a direct correlation with my hives intensity and the severity of my stomach issues.
- IBD can cause cancer sores in the mouth, and I have had my share of those over the years.
- My intestines seem to feel as if they are just bloated, inflamed, or something is up with them.
- These IBD diseases have also been linked to Vitamin D deficiences (due to malapsorption).
Furthermore, I have pulled up a couple of references of cholinergic urticaria being associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease:
There is a forum thread that discusses Crohn’s and hives. Here is what one of the members “Beave” had to say:
When I first started getting Crohn’s problems about 20 years ago, I would break out in hives every time I got hot — a warm day, a hot shower, exercise, being in the sun, anything that warmed me up. To this day I still get itchy when I get warm, but I don’t get covered in hives like I used to. For me the condition is called cholinergic urticaria.
Hives are fairly common, for everybody, not just Crohnies. It’s often difficult to figure out what’s causing them. You’re thinking along the right lines by considering new medications, new foods, new soaps, detergents, etc. You should probably let your general doctor know, and maybe consider seeing an allergy specialist if this continues or gets worse.
One other thing: Benadryl is an excellent antihistamine and effective for hives. But it has the drawback of making you pretty drowsy, not to mention it only works 4-6 hours. Zyrtec is also considered really good for hives and is now over the counter, and it’s available as generic OTC as well (cheaper). It doesn’t make you quite as drowsy as benadryl and it’s good for a full 24 hours. My allergy doctor recommended zyrtec for me when I have trouble with hives and it seems to work pretty well.
I found that pretty interesting. And then, the very next comment down by “hspencer” says this:
I started with hives about once every three months…then once a month…then weekly…then three or four times a week….I never related the hives to my crohns….but my gastro prescribed a ten day stint of anti-b’s and that (knock wood) brought it all to an end.
I also found a medical research type article where a man had ulcerative colitis and also cholinergic urticaria together. I thought that was interesting because it almost seemed as if the CU was a direct result of his other issues.
So What to Make of IBD and Cholinergic Urticaria?
So there are definitely some apparent connections or cases of cholinergic urticaria occurring alongside Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The question that remains to be seen is whether this is mere coincidence, or if there is causation involved.
As I pointed out in another post, I feel pretty strongly that cholinergic urticaria is a symptom, and not a disease. So in my mind there is a good chance that IBD can cause cholinergic urticaria type of hives.
Does this mean everyone that has cholinergic urticaria has inflammatory bowel disease? Not at all. In fact, if I am correct in my assumption that cholinergic urticaria is an actual symptom and not a disease itself, then we could all very well have different causes for our hives. In other words, other issues could cause CU symptoms, and perhaps IBD could be one of many.
In my case, I seem to think there is something wrong with my intestines, and that it is connected in some way to the CU. I have tried anti-candida treatments (didn’t work), I have tried elimination diets (helped a lot, but didn’t fully cure CU), and more. So far nothing has worked, but cutting certain foods out does help some.
Conclusion: Cholinergic Urticaria and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
At this point I am getting a little worried that I may actually have some more serious issues with my digestion/intestines than I first thought. I suppose time will tell, and eventually (hopefully within the next year), I may venture out to a gastro doc and have my intestines scoped out.
The only disappointing news is that if I did have IBD, it isn’t exactly curable. And I will basically have to deal with it my whole life (and try to maintain remission by taking drugs). It also puts people at a higher risk for intestinal cancer.
I will never forget when I went to one of the dermatologists for my hives. He looked at my while I was having a reaction right in front of him, and he said, “You don’t have any kind of infection somewhere do you? Something is stressing your body out.” To which I replied, “No, not that I know of anyway.”
But if in fact I have had IBD (and I did have stomach issues at this point, I just didn’t think it was abnormal), then it could potentially be causing the symptoms. So perhaps I did have an “infection,” only, it was in my stomach where I didn’t know about it.
What happens is that the intestines get inflamed, swollen, and also even ulcers. This inflammation starts to eventually affect other parts of the body such as the skin, other organs, and more. Hives is definitely a symptom of IBD, as are rashes and of course the stomach pain & bloating.
But it makes me wonder, do any of you have IBD symptoms? Or are there any more Crohn’s/IBD people out there with cholinergic urticaria as well? If so, please let me know.