I was recently thinking about Cholinergic Urticaria (aka, the dreaded heat rash). After all, it is kind of hard to forget about it when you feel it every single day, blog about cholinergic urticaria, and so forth.
Anyway, I was thinking about how the lack of medical knowledge and research seems to be quite shameful. After all, many of us seem to be more knowledgeable about cholinergic urticaria (based on hours of research online), than most of our doctors. I am not suggesting they should turn down cancer patients to cure our little itchies. But at least they should educate themselves more about the condition.
So this got me thinking, “Is cholinergic urticaria even a disease? Or is a symptom of another issue?” So I thought I would discuss some of my thoughts on the issue.
Is Cholinergic Urticaria Better Classified As A Disease or a Symptom?
To first consider this, let us look at the definition of a symptom and the definition of a disease, and compare them.
- Disease: an impairment of health or a condition of abnormal functioning
- Symptom: Any sensation or change in bodily function that is experienced by a patient and is associated with a particular disease
Those definitions are somewhat similar, but there is a difference. A disease is the main thing causing an illness. It also has symptoms-which are the result of the disease’s affect on the body. An example would be Strep Throat. Strep Throat is a bacterial infection (disease). It has symptoms as well (sore throat, fever, vomiting, etc.). But Strep Throat is clearly a disease.
So a disease by itself is what causes a condition and the subsequent symptoms. Whereas, the symptom is merely a result of an underlying disease. Are you confused now? I hope not.
So now that we have a basic understanding, it begs the question, “Is cholinergic urticaria a symptom or a disease.”
I feel fairly strongly that cholinergic urticaria is not even a disease to begin with. In my opinion, it is simply a symptom of something bigger going on. Whether be an allergic response, hormone issue, blocked pores, or whatever.
Why do I feel Cholinergic Urticaria is a symptom rather than a disease? Well, just take my wife’s recent bout with a cinnamon allergy. She started to get a rash on her that was very itchy and uncomfortable. Was the rash a disease? No, of course not. Why? Because it was merely a symptom of something else going on in her body (an immune response to cinnamon).
Or for another example. What about the rashes, stomach upsets, and so forth that people experience when they have Celiac Disease (Gluten-intolerance)? Those things are only symptoms of a something bigger going on (an allergic response to gluten).
So for cholinergic urticaria, I think that it is again a strange hives-type of symptom. In fact, most hives conditions are found to be a response of an allergy. If you take antibiotics and happen to be allergic to it: Presto, you will get hives. Or if you eat a food you are severely allergic to: Presto, hives again.
Hives can manifest in different ways. For some reason, we have cholinergic urticaria. Some may get dermatographic urticaria. Some may get cold urticaria. But what do all these have in common? In my opinion, they are just the symptom of something else going on.
The body is having some sort of odd reaction to a chemical, food, or environmental thing. Therefore, cholinergic urticaria happens to use when our bodies get hot. Obviously, we aren’t allergic to heat itself. Our bodies are just doing something inside, and the heat merely triggers it.
Another reason why I prefer to think of cholinergic urticaria as a symptom is because it forces me to think harder about the actual “disease” that is causing the symptom. Therefore, I feel like I have a better chance of eventually solving the CU puzzle. This could potentially lead to better treatments for cholinergic urticaria.
This can again be analogized to a doctor. If we went in to the doctor with a sore throat, the doctor can do 1 of 2 things. They can treat the symptom, or they can treat the disease. By giving us a throat lozenge, they can reduce the sore throat symptom. But does that do any good? No, the throat will remain sore because it is just a symptom of a greater disease.Instead, if they treat the disease (Strep), the symptoms will automatically disappear.
I feel like this is exactly what happens with cholinergic urticaria. Doctors assume it is a disease, when if fact I believe it may be a symptom of something else. So they treat the symptom (antihistamines), and not the disease.
Therefore, we still have CU, and only reduce the symptoms with antihistamines. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to reduce the hives symptoms any way we can. But at the same time, it surely doesn’t cure it for most of us. Why? Because something else is happening that is merely causing the hives. The hives themselves are just a symptom of that greater problem.
If we just mentally stop and accept the CU as a disease in itself, then we tend to stop thinking of what is causing it, and instead look to ways to manage it. If, however, we view it as a symptom, we tend to think things like, “What is causing this strange symptom.” Not only do we continue to try to manage it, but we also continue to think about the possible underlying causes.
So in conclusion: I feel like Cholinergic Urticaria is probably more accurately labeled a symptom than a disease. I hope I am right, and I hope one day we can find out what disease or problem is actually causing the hives symptoms.
Recent Bad Hives Attack (Yesterday)
Yesterday I was terribly sick, and had a ferocious hives attack. It all started on Saturday. As I mentioned, I am going to do a complete change in my diet, and cut out all of the crap foods (gluten, milk, processed foods/drinks, etc.). I am dead serious about this too.
Anyway, on Saturday I had eaten some left over Japanese food from a day before. I have ate at this place before, and it usually doesn’t bother me at all. So I ate the “sesame chicken” meal. I also ate a bowl of “Dyno-Bites” cereal that day, which is not the usual cereal I had been eating. I am not sure which one of those two did it, but I was in severe pain come the next day.
I ate the food, and felt fine all day Saturday. Then, on Sunday morning I woke up. I noticed my stomach was a little crampy, but I brushed it off as nothing. Then, I had to use the bathroom.
My stomach literally felt like it was being ripped out. I was in terrible pain, which I hadn’t felt for quite a while. I have mentioned this in several posts before about a huge correlation between my bad diet habits, and the hives intensity, and yesterday this was once again true.
So while using the bathroom, I actually started having hives! Great. So not only am I in complete misery from my stomach pains, but now I am scratching all over and feeling like I am getting stung by bees. I am struggling to try and pour water from the faucet on me. Guess what, it didn’t help.
So I actually had my wife bring a fan in the bathroom and turn on the air conditioner, so I could pour water on me, have the fan cool me off, and get some relief from the hives until I as finished. Gross yes? Sad? You bet. I hate hives, and I hate my stomach/allergy/food intolerance issues. The only good news is that at least I can control the food issues (although it can be hard at times).
So anyway, the hives were intense, and I finally finished using the bathroom (which was torture in itself). I had my shirt off, and when I was washing my hands, I looked at my chest and shoulders. There were literally hundreds of red “hives” dots all over me. More than I have probably ever seen before during an attack. They eventually went away a few minutes later.
My wife seen me afterward, and couldn’t believe it. She said my face was so pale that I looked like I was dead. I sat in bed and didn’t move for the next 2 hours. It felt like I was dying. I was so weak after the hives and stomach pain. It took half of the day for me to get any energy back.
So to make a long story short, I am eating super clean. We are going to the store in the next day or two, and I am only eating original ingredients that I know for sure don’t bother my stomach or hives. No processed or store made stuff. My body literally can’t take this anymore.
Another strange thing is that my mom recently had a bad infection of diverticulitis. Basically, that condition means there are tiny pockets in the intestines that get inflamed and infected. It can straight up kill you if you don’t get treated with antibiotics.
I sometimes wonder if I will get that (or if I have it now). But I don’t think so. In any event, it is time to clean up my diet. I can’t wait for the hives to improve, although I know it will take at least a week or two on this diet to see an improvement.