This post contains all of the posts I’ve made in the past regarding my trials and experiments with diet. This page is massively long as a result, but I have left it here as an archive for reference and for anyone interested in reading through my past trials with hives and diet experiments.
This does NOT contain the latest status of my hives, or my current diet, so please do not be confused when reading the information on this page. Many times, as you will read below, I was trying so desparately to find out what was causing my hives. Sometimes I felt diet was related, and sometimes my experiments proved unconclusive (leading me to believe that perhaps diet was not a major role in my hives).
My current position is this: Diet can in fact be related to (and/or cause) cholinergic urticaria symptoms. It may not be true for everyone, but I feel it was a big issue in my own hives.
Despite my previous failed attempts at finding allergens in foods, I now have removed the offending foods from my diet (which mostly consisted of any processing, gluten, wheat, milk/dairy, any preservatives, additives, colorings, dyes, high histamine foods, etc.). You can read a little about my journey of how I was able to first discover diet and exercise (and how it helped my hives).
The information on this page is not meant to replace medical advice, nor am I advocating that anyone should try this. You should always consult a doctor/nutritionalist before attempting diets or treatments.
My current diet looks like this:
- Turkey (meat)
- Broccoli, sweet potatoes (veggies)
- Bananas, blueberries, strawberries (fruits)
- water, fruit smoothies (beverages)
- Sunflower oil (note, I rarely use oil, but I’ve found I can tolerate it occassionaly)
- White rice, (with real maple syrup used as a sweetener) (grains)
All that you see above is “as is,” meaning I don’t add condiments, seasonings, etc. to them. I pretty much eat a bland diet. Watch the two videos below for an explanation of how I arrived at this diet, as well as what my current diet looks like:
Now, the above information is current as of 5/7/12. The information below is a collection of posts over a 3-4 year period as I tried to determine whether or not diet was causing my eczema, hives, and stomach issues. Again, these are outdated, but kept here for reference:
Cholinergic Urticaria and Diet (2008)
Doctors are unsure what causes Cholinergic Urticaria to develop. There are many theories of the cause of hives ranging from autoimmune disorders, food intolerances, allergens, & more.
After experiencing a lot of stomach cramps, bloating, & uncomfortable feelings in my stomach, I thought it was time to see if there was something that could be done about it.
Also, I happened to read one forum one day, and a member had posted that he suffered from hives for about 10 years. He controlled the hives with antihistamines & an asthma inhaler. He did not have Cholinergic Urticaria, but instead had another type of hives “pressure urticaria & cold urticaria.” Basically if pressure was applied or cold weather (or an ice cube) was applied to his skin, he would develop a hives condition.
He dealt with the hives for years. By chance, he decided to go an a weight loss diet that reduced carbohydrate intake (such as an Atkins diet).
After removing many foods from his diet, he realized something…his hives were gone. So he & his wife tweaked his diet until they realized what was causing the problem…GLUTEN.
Gluten is a substance found in many popular grains (such as wheat). If you have a gluten intolerance, you may have symptoms such as stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhea, & more. If you have a gluten intolerance, it is usually called celiac disease.
After he removed the gluten from his diet, the hives went away & have not returned since. He told me that it took about 1 month on the diet to clear his hives symptoms. Again, he found this by accident by eating very strictly on an Atkins (low carb) diet.
Could I Have Gluten Intolerance (Celiac Disease)? Was this Causing My Hives? My Own Little Experiment:
I was intrigued by this guy’s story. I was also a little excited. I looked up some of the symptoms & they sounded like some things I had experienced for the past year or two (upset stomachs).
So I decided to give it a little try. As a matter of fact, I went all the way & did an elimination diet. An elimination diet is where you remove certain foods from your diet for a short period of time to see if you are allergic, & then you re-introduce them back into your diet & see if they cause any problems.
So I cut out most all of the major allergens: Wheat, Gluten, Milk & Dairy, Peanuts, Shellfish, & more. Basically, I ate fruits, vegetables, & plain cooked chicken & salmon.
After a few days, my stomach started feeling better. The bloating feeling had gone down. I had no more bad pains/cramps in my stomach.
I stayed strict on this diet for about 3 weeks. I had no gluten, milk, or anything else. At the end of the 3 weeks, my stomach was completely better. It felt great-no more bloating, gas, cramps, etc. But what about the hives?
Actually, I did see a small improvement. It seemed that I was not as “sensitive” to breakouts. It took more exercising to get me to the point to where I started to itch. Instead of doing 10 sit-ups & then feeling itchy, I could do almost a whole set. Also, the itching was not as bad.
This made me feel a little better, but at this point I was about to die! All I could think about was my favorite pizza place, ice cream, chocolate, & all that yummy stuff.
So I broke down & ate a vanilla ice cream cone from Dairy Queen. On their website, they advertise the ice cream as being gluten free. So I though, “Hey, it does have milk but at least it doesn’t have gluten in it.” So even though I thought I’d cheat, I would still be on the gluten free diet (just not on the milk free diet).
So I had a yummy cone. Everything seemed fine & dandy…Until about 5 hours later. My stomach wasn’t happy. It was started to cramp & hurt so badly I thought I was dying or something.
Also, not to make you sick or anything, but it even gave me diarrhea too. I didn’t really think anything about it. I continued on the diet, and it had been about a month. The guy said his symptoms were gone by 1 month. I exercised, the hives were still there (unfortunately).
So I decided to forget about the diet since the hives were still there. My stomach felt 100% better while I was on it, but the main reason I did the diet was to see if it would stop the hives.
Then, after I quit the diet, my wife & I got a pizza from my favorite pizza place. It was delicious (as always). But then, about 5 hours later, same thing as before. Terrible stomach cramps, & everything else. Then, it hit me. “Man, I get bloated, gassy, cramps, & more whenever I eat a lot of dairy.” Maybe I have lactose intolerance.
I Have Lactose Intolerance (or some type of milk allergy/intolerance)!
To give you a little background on me, I am a dairy-holic. I love ice-cream, cheese, pizza, chocolate, etc. I have ate it my whole life without a problem. But all of a sudden I realized this stuff was killing my stomach.
But instead of going to the doctor, I did a simple test. I ate my diet for a couple of days until my stomach got better. Then I ate some food with only milk in it. My stomach was in BAD shape. Then, I bought some lactose pills that you can buy at Wal-Mart or your local drug store over the counter. I ate healthy again for a day or two.
Then, I ate the same foods that were killing my stomach before. Only this time I took the lactose pills first. Guess what…my stomach felt great. I guess I am LACTOSE INTOLERANT!!
Yes, that is right! I ate dairy almost every day of my life & loved it. Now, I can’t touch the stuff without taking lactose intolerance pills to make sure my body can digest the lactase (sugar in milk).
So now I can eat whatever I want, but if it is dairy I have to make sure that I take the lactose pills. Then I am totally fine. No stomach problems at all. So I am glad to have my stomach issues under control. NOW…if I can just figure out this HIVES thing, I will be back to 100%.
But before I publish this article, I hope this gave you some insight. I had no idea that I had a food issue. Neither did the guy I mentioned at the beginning of this article. But the point is, maybe a small percentage of hives sufferers could have a food related issue.
Maybe you are also gluten intolerant, or lactose intolerant, or have another allergy. It is something to think about. If you decide to try a diet or get tested, make sure to let us know the results. Feel free to add a post to the cholinergic urticaria Forum.
A Terrible Cholinergic Urticaria Hives Reaction Yesterday (6/12/2009)
Yesterday my wife had finished taking her Nclex boards (to get officially licensed as an RN Nurse), so she had the day off after she was finished. When she got home, we ate and spent some time together.
I know this sounds corny, but we were watching some “Leave it to Beaver” episodes on Netflix (I LOVE Netflix by the way). That show is so old (it is in black and white), but I still think it was such a great show. In fact, I wish real life was so innocent and nice as it is portrayed in that series. For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, it is about a small boy “Beaver” and all of his mischievous things he manages to do in each episode. I know, a bit geeky for a couple of 20 somethings to watch, but oh well.
Anyway, after we watched a couple of episodes, my wife suggested we visit the local park. I had previously been wishing I could get out to get some sun exposure anyway, and I was a little tired of staying indoors all day for the past few weeks, so I agreed to go.
So we got in the car, and off we went. I didn’t take a Zyrtec before I left, for a couple of reasons:
- I usually take the Zyrtec-D because it isn’t quite as powerful and doesn’t make me drowsy, but last time I took it I actually did get drowsy. It kind of ruined my whole entire day, as I was so sleepy I could barely focus.
- And most importantly, they haven’t been stopping the hives lately at all. So the way I look at it, I may as well not take them if I am going to feel like crap (sleepy) and still get hives.
Anyway, we finally got to the park and walked around for a while. It was cloudy when we left, so I was glad and thought I could get some outdoor exposure without getting baked at the same time.
Knowing my luck, the sun came out full force after a few minutes. I was fine for about 20 minutes while we watched the ducks play in the water, and I tried to stay in the shade as much as possible. I didn’t even get prickly.
Then we walked down to another area, and the sun was beating on me the whole way. As we stood there, I started to feel it coming on. I can always sense an attack, because my entire skin gets this sensation on it. I call it my “Spider-sense” like in Spider-man. It started as a couple of pricklies on the back of my neck. I told my wife, “Oh no, I am getting a little itchy.” I could feel the Cholinergic Urticaria trying to creep its way into my flesh.
I backed off into the shade to try to dodge the attack. It didn’t work. The sun was still shining and seemed to even intensify a bit, and the shade wasn’t helping. Then it got worse. The stinging feeling starting randomly popping up all over in random spots. It feels like I get pricked with a small needle, and then it itches really badly for a second afterward. This all happens really fast, and it moves from one area to the other.
This cycle continued, and it kept randomly popping up all over. I started to scratch, and scratch, and scratch. First my head, then my chest, then my back, then my forehead, and on and on.
I started to get really annoyed. My wife could see the frustration on my face, and she said, “Do you want to leave.”
“Yes,” I replied. “Let’s get the heck out of here right now. My hives are getting bad.”
So we had to walk all the way back to the car, and the hives were full force the whole entire walk, and were getting worse. I was scratching like crazy, and just kept saying, “I am so tired of this.”
There were people out too, and I tried to make it look as nonchalant and normal as I could, but I had to scratch. The pain and itching was almost unbearable, and it wasn’t letting up.
We finally made it to the car, and of course thanks to the greenhouse effect it was super hot. So I immediately blasted the A/C on full blast, and began to drive with one hand while frantically scratching myself all over with the other hand. I was going nuts scratching myself all over and trying to keep up with all of the “pins and needles.”
The hives were still stinging me everywhere, and at this point I just lost it. I let out a big scream saying, “Dang it..What in the HECK is wrong with me Why in the HECK do I have to feel this torture almost every day.” My wife jumped, as she didn’t expect a big loud outburst.
I then went on a screaming rant for the next 10 minutes about how much it sucks having hives, how I hate it, and how I am so tired of living like this. This is odd for me too, because I am usually really quite and calm acting. I was so upset I just felt like I was going crazy. Like I could cry and scream and pull my hair out or something.
My wife just sat there and listened. I hate how my hives have to not only affect my life, but also hers. She is always great about it, but it still stinks!
Eventually the hives faded once the A/C got going. Like always, I felt drained and depressed afterward.I looked down and had tons of little red dots (hives) on me again. I usually only get those when I have a bad attack, and this was a very bad attack. When I got home I could see how my entire chest was flushed bright red, but it had faded during the drive. I would hate to see what it looked like during the actual attack.
Needless to say, I was pretty down in the dumps yesterday, and even today as well. I often talk on the forum about trying to maintain a positive attitude, and to not let the hives get you down. I believe in this attitude wholeheartedly, but unfortunately, it is easier said than done. This is particularly true when one experiences a really intense and emotional reaction like I did yesterday.
I am positive most days, but when I have days like I had yesterday it really affects me mentally. I feel like I am being tortured for no reason. I have no idea what is causing it or if it will ever go away. I get extremely upset and bitter towards live. I begin to loath life, loath the hives, and everything else.
I feel like I have nothing to look forward to. I have no idea if it will ever go away, or if I will ever be able to have the health I once had just a mere 8 years ago. And regardless of what I try to tell myself, it has MAJORLY impacted my life (and mostly in a negative way).
I find myself stressing about silly things in fear of an attack. I find avoiding as many social events as I possibly can. Instead, I seek solitude and isolate myself in a way to avoid attacks. Between my stomach issues making me avoid going out to eat, and my hives making me avoid doing anything physical, I basically do nothing. Dollywood was the most fun I have had in a while, and the hives even managed to sting me during that.
The truth is, people can live with CU, and I believe in making the most of it that you can. After all, it isn’t like it is bad 100% of the time. It kind of comes and goes in intensity. But it is downright hard live with this at times. Sometimes people just have to break down, or at least I know I do. There are just some days when a positive attitude doesn’t cut it any longer. It is time to face reality. It is time to be bitter, and rant, and let out steam.
I honestly don’t know what in the heck is going on with my body, but I hate it. Why oh why do I (and we) have to keep living with this. Can’t we get a break? Can’t we all just have a break from this torture? Why me, why you? Why can’t doctors figure this thing out? Grrrr.
Furthermore, sometimes I get pretty depressed about life in general. As I have stated on the forum before, each outbreak reminds me of my own mortality. It reminds me that, “Hey, your body is not working right, and one day you will die because something else in your body will screw up. Have fun.” I wonder if I will suffer and even get worse until my life comes to an end by some other disease.
This gets me even more down, because I realize the fragile nature of life. We live to die. There is sadly a lot of suffering felt in most cases (except for those few lucky ones who die in their sleep). I don’t know how or when I will die, but I know that I am suffering right now. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to suffer through this ever again.
Not that I am suicidal, because I am not at all. I just feel like life loses its luster when your health is stripped away (or damaged).
Update on My Diet & Stomach Issues
Well, I have been eating healthy again with no junk food or processed foods since Monday. So far my stomach still gets a bit bloated even when eating healthy foods, and my hives (as mentioned above) seem to still be rather intense.
As I mentioned in my last post, I am starting to wonder if perhaps I have some type of in chronic inflammatory bowel disease which could be responsible for everything (hives and stomach issues). Hopefully I can figure this stuff out and perhaps see a doctor within the next few months if something doesn’t get straightened out in my body.
I swear, it is times like these when I seriously start considering taking some more extreme medicines (like corticosteroids or steroids). But then again, there is no guarantee those will even work.
Anyway, I just wanted to sort of rant and share my experience yesterday, and also update on the diet/stomach thing. I hope everyone’s hives goes away soon, and I hope they aren’t giving you grief right now.
Cholinergic Urticaria Hives are More Intense (5/18/2009)
Once again, after a crappy diet of mine over the past 2-3 weeks, I am suffering with some new eczema rashes, and way more intense Cholinergic Urticaria symptoms. This all started about 2-3 weeks ago. As most of you know, I have been suffering from a lot of allergy symptoms over the past year. I have had red itchy bumps on my skin, random itchy patches of skin, and stomach issues on occasion. They all come & go, and my diet has been linked for sure to these rashes, bumps, etc.
I have repeatedly noticed during my many diet attempts over the past year that when I eat really organic & healthy, my hives get way better, all rashes clear up, and my stomach/digestion problems are solved. The hives have never fully been cured by diet alone, but they have significantly improved while on the diet. Then, just like clockwork, when I eat a lot of processed foods, and foods with any milk, wheat, oats, or other ingredients, it all comes back. I get itchy rashes, and the hives go through the roof in intensity.
I have eaten milk free foods still, but have allowed wheat on occasion, and even ate a few fast food meals over the past 2 weeks. This all came as a result of my wife’s graduation, and other events over the past month that has placed me in a difficult situation of eating foods that I know give me trouble. So I ate foods I know give me trouble with probiotics, hoping it would balance it out.
I have posted about this several times over the past year of this whole diet experience. I have also speculated in the past that they hives may go away on a prolonged diet of organic foods, and combining that with avoidance of known food allergies/intolerances. I have never been able to fully test this theory to a level I am satisfied with, as I have only made it as long as a month or two on the diet–and at that point I either had no will power left to eat healthy, or it was getting too expensive to eat organic. But I suspect it could really help, if not cure, cholinergic urticaria doing so for several months. I won’t lie, it takes an incredible amount of will power to eat only fruits, veggies, and lean meat for a long time.
But anyway, I plan to clean up my diet for a while again. I could barely sleep for the last 2 nights because my skin is so “icky” feeling. It is so sensitive right now, and when I feel the covers touch my skin it just gives me this really light sensation like I am getting chill bumps all over or something. Add that to the fact that I am practically breaking out in hives over the slightest thing, and that is reason enough for me to get the diet back on track for a while.
Allergy Tests Are Way Too Expensive…I’ll Pass For Now
I was talking to my mother on the phone about the allergy test she had about 2 years ago. She was reading me some of the results, and notably, she was allergic to dust mites, milk, citrus, peanuts, oats, onions, and more. I had a lot of known food issues that matched her known allergies. I suppose allergies probably have a genetic aspect to them, so I feel like her test would probably be somewhat similar in comparison, with many allergens over-lapping.
So I decided that so many people on the forum have had an allergy test, and it would be somewhat beneficial to know some of my allergens so I could avoid them for sure. So my mother called up the allergy place she went to a couple of years ago, and inquired about the cost of having a testing performed.
I literally could not believe how much they said…$2,000! Yep, that is right, two thousand bucks to prick your back & give a detailed test result. Holy Moly! I am getting medical insurance within the next month or two (my wife’s benefits finally kick in), but there is still a deductible with that ($500), plus I think we have to pay 20%. So that is still several hundred dollars…yikes!
So I have decided that i am just going to pass on that for now, and possibly forever. Instead, I am going to seek cheap/free ways of finding food allergies by carefully paying attention to my diet, skin, rashes, etc. I will eliminate known food allergies, and then work from there & monitor everything over the course of the next few weeks. I still can’t believe $2,000!! The medical field is robbing people blind these days apparently. Especially since all it does is suggest some things you may be allergic to. It doesn’t even cover every known allergy! Sheesh!
Update on Probiotics Supplements
I have stopped taking the probiotics for my digestion. It didn’t have any effect on the hives at all. It maybe helped my digestion a bit, but nothing major. So I will not continue to take them at this point (unless I eat something bad, which I plan to avoid at this point).
There are some reports that it does help some people with eczema or digestion issues, so it is worth a shot for anyone suffering from that. But it didn’t work that well for me.
Update on Wife’s Rash/Eczema/Dermatitis
I think I have figured out what was causing my wife’s rash. As I mentioned in my last post or two, she started getting these little red spots that were itchy on her back, arms, and upper chest.
So I was racking my brain trying to figure what caused this with her. I finally figured out that within the last month, she has switched from regular waffles to these waffles with cinnamon in them. She also started eating this applesauce with cinnamon in it as well over the past month.
So I pointed this out to her, and reminded her how she is allergic to cinnamon. Whenever she chews gum with cinnamon in it (like Big Red), or uses cinnamon toothpaste, she will get a big red area when the cinnamon product touches her skin (such as around her mouth).
So I think that is probably what is causing her rash, and hopefully it will clear up by the end of the week. It did give her an idea of what it feels like to suffer with itchiness (she normally has flawless skin). But a little itchy rash is still nothing compared to my Urticaria Cholinergic.
Conclusion: Cleaning Up the Diet for a While
So I just wanted to give a few updates on the allergy test thing, talk about the hives, etc. I will definitely clean up my diet majorly over the next week or two, and I suspect the rashes/hives will improve.
I still can’t wait to get a house within the next few months. Then, I can really eat organic, remove dust mites, filter the water, etc. I expect I will really be able to beat this hives thing!
The Cholinergic Urticaria Hives Aren’t As Itchy Lately (1/6/2009)
As many of you know, I have been on a milk free diet for a while now. The main reason being that it makes my stomach really upset when I eat it (lactose/allergy). I have had a couple of diet trials several months ago, where I removed gluten and other foods from my diet.
Then, over this past Christmas and Thanksgiving holiday, I allowed myself to eat all the gluten and foods I wanted as long as it didn’t contain wheat. I did get a couple of bad stomach episodes, and it was hard to tell what could have caused it. I ate things such as apple pie, pecan pie, rolls, and other things. Overall, I only had about 2-3 bad stomach cramps throughout the break-which did make me curious as to what else could have been upsetting my stomach.
But I did notice one thing. I was extremely reactive. I broke into hives over the slightest warming. I was cutting the turkey, and where the kitchen heated up I had hives. I also would get hives if I just jumped around the apartment for a few seconds–even when it was really cold. It was quite frustrating, but I didn’t think anything of it.
Then, starting December 30, I went back on a really strict diet. I posted this in my last post on my New Year’s resolution. The main goal was to simply get healthier, and lose a a few pounds, and to feel better. So on Dec. 30, I cut out gluten and all “Junk” foods. All I can say is that the hives difference is noticeable. I can jump around, eat vinegar/pineapple, and other things without getting so itchy like I normally would.
Don’t get me wrong, I still can get itchy. But I always find it strange how I get less intense after starting a new diet. It is not a placebo effect either. I know I still have hives if I push it. But before the slightest thing would trigger an attack, and now I am much less reactive. I am enjoying it!
This is the only thing I have literally eaten for the past few days:
Breakfast: Rice Chex Cereal (gluten free), with Rice Milk, and lots of Honey on it (yum). Believe it or not I usually eat about 3 big bowls of this stuff for breakfast. My wife eats it too, and we have been consuming about a box per day (I eat it as a snack later when hungry and craving something sweet). I also ate eggs one day as well as an alternative.
Lunch/Dinner: We have been using the crockpot method again. Basically, we take 3 pieces of chicken breasts (boneless), 3-4 large sweet potatoes (we skin them and cut them in 2), some carrots, and green beans. We cook this on high for about 6-7 hours, or put it on low if we cook it overnight. It is not only delicious and healthy, but it makes life easy not having to cook for every meal (it lasts all day or even 1 1/2 days. If you have never ate a sweet potato from a crockpot, you are missing out! It has a sweet taste to it, it is loaded with cancer fighting chemicals and vitamins, and it gets really soft and tender.
Snacks: In between meals I have been eating fruits and cereal as a snack. I eat raisins, pineapple slices, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and more Rice Chex cereal w/honey. It is really good.
I drink all of my foods down with water, except for cereal in which case I use Rice Dream rice milk.
That is literally all I have been eating all day. I am less reactive (so far), my stomach has no bloating, and hardly any gas at all during the day, my digestion feels great, I have more energy, and even my abs are starting to come through again! My wife and I have both noticed a significant loss of weight in only 6-7 days.
I am a little over 6′ tall (not quite 6’1), and weigh about 152 pounds. So I am not overweight by any means. I am just doing the diet for my health and digestion to feel better, and I am enjoying the increased energy, better digestion, and the less reactive Cholinergic Urticaria. It is always interesting that my hives seem to back off when I eat a really strict diet and avoid junk, gluten, soy, dairy, and other potential allergens.
No Stomach Cramps on Thanksgiving Holiday-No Milk Either (11/29/2008)
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving Holiday! I know I did– my wife and I enjoyed a big turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, green beans, stuffing, gravy, and rolls. For dessert, we had pecan pie and apple pie. It was delicious, and I am still eating on the left-overs (and probably will be for the next week)! Yum.
The great thing about this holiday was that after the great meal I didn’t have any stomach problems. Usually after a big meal like that, I would have started getting stomach cramps about 3 hours after the meal, followed by a trip to the restroom.
However, my wife and I made sure there was no milk at all in any of the ingredients. I did eat wheat (the pies and stuffing), but as I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t think I have a gluten issue after all of these diet experiments. Right now, I think the problem that has been causing severe stomach upsets over the past few years can be linked to milk. If I don’t eat milk, I don’t get sick. So I now avoid it.
The milk has not had any effect on the Cholinergic Urticaria hives, however. I still have them, although I have done a pretty good job of avoiding a breakout lately, which has been really nice.
Anyways, I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday, and you were hives free!
I Still Have Cholinergic Urticaria After Diet Attempt 2 (11/19/2008)
As most of you know, I have been gluten and milk free for quite a while now. There have been some good results, but unfortunately not with the Cholinergic Urticaria. I still have Cholinergic Urticaria symptoms, and I do not see any noticeable difference with the new diet.
However, being milk free has definitely helped my stomach and skin rashes (eczema) clear right up. I feel better as well. However, the cholinergic urticaria is still here full force. So I plan to continue to cut out milk for sure (probably for the rest of my life just because I have a severe intolerance now). However, I may slowly introduce gluten into my diet soon (Thanksgiving is coming up…yum yum). So basically, milk is still being avoided, gluten is once again an option, but in moderation (I will still avoid it if possible).
Update on Cholinergic Urticaria (hives)
As I mentioned before, I was going to attempt an experiment of more Vitamin D and sun exposure to see if that will help the hives. However, this experiment is definitely being placed on hold until it gets warmer. It is actually been snowing here recently, and it is freezing (my thermostat says about 60 right now).
Of course, with the cold weather, the hives are super intense if I get hot. As long as I am in my apartment (my ice box) I am fine. But if I go out or into a hot building, then I instantly break out in a very painful and itchy reaction. A couple of people have also noticed a big change in their cholinergic urticaria symptoms on the Cholinergic Urticaria forum. So I hope everyone who’s hives are worse will make it okay through the winter and cold months.
Also, I had to go out today and run some errands, and I tried to take a Claritin (antihistamine) to see if that would help at all. I am in such fear of breaking out now that it is so cold. Luckily, I didn’t have a reaction, but it wasn’t due to the antihistamine. It just wasn’t very hot where I went today while I was out. When I got home, however, my wife had made a salad with vinegar dressing, and the vinegar made me get hot and prickly, especially on my face. So the Claritin didn’t help at all.
The bad new is, I can now confirm that I feel hung over after taking those things, and they give me a splitting headache! I really don’t know why I took it, I have already realized it doesn’t really help at all, but oh well.
I just hope I can tough it out through the winter and cold months, and when it gets warm I am hoping to get out a lot more and sweat!
Website/Blog and Forum Changes & Update
The website/blog portion:
As many of you have probably noticed, I have the comments turned ‘Off’ on the blog portion of this site. I never really explained why, but I felt like I should say something. First, I had so many great comments posted, and I really appreciate that!
However, for every 1 great comment, I would get 20 nasty spam comments (trying to sell me Viagra or something), and it was starting to take a lot of time sifting through all the junk to see the actual good comments. I do have a spam service on this blog, but there were still spam comments getting through. So I removed them completely. It is just way too time consuming dealing with all of that spam, and plus there is a forum if anyone wants to post anything. So I just feel like the comments aren’t really necessary since there is a forum, and I cancelled it out. I probably won’t ever bring the “comments” ability back, simply because it takes a lot of time, way to easy for spammers, and we have a forum to post info, thoughts, ideas, etc.
Also, I will probably be updating the design theme for this blog/website portion within the next few weeks. I also have some plans to take more pictures (since I can breakout so easily during the winter), and also post lots more articles, and maybe even a video of a live outbreak??
The forum portion:
First, just let me say that since starting this forum, there has been so many awesome people that joined and posts made! Thanks so much! I have learned a lot, and it helps being able to relate with others. Also, I feel that we will really be able to help out each other and others with Cu in the years to come, and give any updates if our conditions change, a new treatment is tested, or if it goes away (or we find anything out).
Unfortunately, someone has decided that they want to spam the forum with lots of Viagra offers, and porn. That is NOT COOL, and I delete this as soon as I find it on there.
Because of the recent spamming post and fake registrations, I have temporarily removed the ability to post pictures within a post, and have disabled links. I have also removed the personal messaging option to prevent the “real” forum members from getting spammed.
I am working on a few other things to make it more secure, and I am trying to eliminate this kind of thing from happening. So please bear with me. If you see any fake posts trying to sell Viagra or some crazy thing, or porn related content, please feel free to hit the “report to moderator” link if you want. However, I am on the forum several times per day now, and remove it as soon as I see it. But I want to apologize for anyone that might come across this junk until I can get it resolved.
I may be adding a few updates to the forum as well in the weeks/months to come. I may play with a design. Also, I may be adding new topics, and moving threads/posts under them to re-organize the forum a little better to make it easier to read and find information. So rest assured that I won’t delete any one’s post, however, I may re-categorize them under a different topic once I set everything up.
Cholinergic Urticaria Status of Gluten Free and Dairy (Milk) Free Diet (11/7/2008)
As most of you know I have also been on a gluten-free/milk free diet for about 1 1/2 months now. I just wanted to provide a quick update on it.
First, I still have Cholinergic Urticaria, and can still breakout at any time. So far the diet does not appear to be helping with the hives. However, I do plan on continuing the diet for at least a few more weeks, or even a couple of months.
I have realized that the milk free diet is going to be permanent in nature even if it doesn’t help my cholinergic urticaria. Milk was the issue with my stomach problems, and since going on this diet I have not had one single episode of stomach cramps, excessive bloating, excessive gas, diarrhea, or any other bad digestion problems. So even though the milk doesn’t help the cholinergic urticaria, it looks like this may be a life-long avoidance thing (I may cheat or eat small quantities here and there after the diet experiment is over).
Also, I have not had any skin rash or eczema problems, which I now strongly suspect was linked with the milk. So milk was causing some problems for me, and I don’t think at this point it is causing the cholinergic urticaria, but time will tell since I plan on avoiding milk long term.
In terms of gluten, I am starting to think maybe gluten is not an issue. I did strongly suspect it could be involved with CU, and I have confirmed that it is related to at least some physical urticaria conditions. But at the same time I am not yet seeing any results, and someone on the forum has confirmed that they went gluten free for almost 9 months and didn’t see any effects at all.
So if this diet hasn’t changed within a few weeks/months, then I will probably keep it similar to what I am eating now, but I may expand my foods to those that contain wheat/gluten occasionally, while still avoiding milk as much as possible. I am happy on the diet so far and I am really not having any excessive cravings or problems.
Could Gluten, Additive, Milk, or Food Cause Cholinergic Urticaria (9/30/2008)
I just wanted to update everyone on my diet thus far. I have successfully been Gluten and Milk free for a little while now, and things are slowly improving. My rashes are almost gone, and my Cholinergic Urticaria symptoms seems to have lowered in intensity.
I was kind of reminiscing on my last diet, and I feel like I made a terrible mistake. I feel like I was overcome with temptation, and quit way too early to see any positive results. After all, I was only on the diet for about 1 month, and very strict on it for only a couple of weeks. I have been doing a lot of research on several food related allergic responses in the skin. I decided to write this “long” article about my recent thoughts on CU.
What intrigues me, is that there are different ways food can cause problems, and even different parts of your immune system or antibodies that can be involved. An article I found really interesting was on the itching skin condition called “dermatitis herpiteformis.” Of course, this is something VERY DIFFERENT from what we have, but it does have some similarities (mainly just intense itching in the spot where the eruptions occur).
Herpeteformis Dermatits (abbreviated as DH) is a condition that causes INTENSELY itchy skin eruptions, small blisters, and a burning sensation. It usually persists for a person’s entire life (although some people go into remission). I read a really good article on it.
Here are some things I will highlight in the article that caught my attention, and really got me thinking:
1. Here is the first thing that caught my attention in the article: “The cause of DH is allergy to gluten, a protein found in wheat and some other grains. Usually allergies, likes hives and hay fever, are made by the body’s IgE system. This can be treated with pills and shots. DH is different, and is an allergy of the IgA system. IgA is an antibody produced in the lining of the intestines. The usual allergy treatments are useless. The rash is caused when gluten in the diet combines with IgA, and together they enter the blood stream and circulate. They eventually clog up the small blood vessels in the skin. This attracts white blood cells (neutrophils), and releases powerful chemicals called complements.”
I found this interesting because it says that because it involves the IgA system, most allergy medications are useless. Hence, I know that antihistamines are basically useless to me, and many others I have also talked to indicate the same thing. Perhaps this is because there is involvement with IgA or another antibody.
Also, notice how this reaction is occuring. The gluten (an extremely “sticky” substance)-somehow sticks to these IgA antibodies in an unusual way. They then travel through the body, and get deposited in the blood vessels in the skin where they remain for LONG periods of time. Then there is a reaction due to the bodies immune system releasing chemicals to try to “kill” these unknown substances. This results in the inflammation and intense itching.
2. The second thing I found interesting is this: “Some people only have the Celiac Disease symptoms (stomach issues), some have both Celiacs Disease and Dermatitis Herpeteformis, and some just Dermatitis Herpetiformis. It is not known why some develop one and not the other.
I though that was interesting because even though these people are having sometimes completely different problems (skin or stomach issues or both), they are being caused by the same thing (Gluten). So this shows that it can have different effects of different people based on possible factors such as genetics or lifestyle.
3. The other thing I thought was interesting was this: “Complete elimination of gluten is curative, but improvement takes months. The gluten-free diet is very difficult, as tiny amounts of gluten are in almost all restaurant and prepared foods, gum wrappers and the like. Cutting down on wheat and gluten may reduce the amount of medication needed, but will not be curative.”
So basically, it is saying that complete elimination of Gluten is CURATIVE (meaning it will cure it completely), but improvement of symptoms takes MONTHS. This is because the “sticky” gluten binds to the antibodies and ends up in the skin, and it takes several months before they are broken down and removed from the skin.
It said merely “cutting down” or “reducing” gluten may lessen symptoms, but won’t cure it. The only way to completely cure it, is to cut out Gluten 100%, and you won’t see the benefits for MONTHS after that. Some articles even suggest up to a year or more to see full results.
Pulling it All Together for Cholinergic Urticaria:
So some of you may be saying to yourself, “Okay, this is sorta interesting but what does this have to do with cholinergic urticaria?” Here is what I am trying to say about all of this:
1. Food can definitely cause strange allergic reations. Doctors are now finding that strange skin conditions and allergic reactions are actually related to food causes after all (such as DH mentioned above).
2. The same foods can cause a variety of symptoms in different people. They can involve different types of antibodies never before thought to be connected with food allergies. Some may have skin itching, some may have IBS symptoms (stomach pain/diarrhea), some may have other allergies.
3. When the IgA antibodies are involved, it seems to be less responsive to traditional allergy treatment (anti-histamines, etc), and takes MONTHS for these antibodies clear after the allergen has stopped being introduced or ingested by the body. So it takes a long time for these allergy causing molecules to break down.
4. Cholinergic urticaria could work this same way. Here is my “latest theory” below:
My Latest Theory of Cholinergic Urticaria:
Again- I am not a doctor or anything-just a guy who hates having hives. So this has come from my own research, pondering, and guessing. It may be completely wrong and I totally acknowledge that. But it is a working theory, that i hope I can test over the course of the next year. I look at it like this: I would rather have 100 wrong theories, but know that I am at least thinking about it and trying my best to figure it out, than to never have a theory at all. But anyways, here it goes:
I suspect at this time cholinergic urticaria could be caused by some type of food-related reaction. Just like the case with DH above, our bodies make these IgA antibodies in the intestines. Something we are eating (gluten, milk, hydrogenated oil, additives, candida, wheat, nuts, etc…It could be different for different people) is reacting and binding to these IgA (or other antibodies).
The IgA (or other antibody) then gets circulated throughout our bodies with this allergen stuck to it. They get into our skin, and accumulate in higher than normal numbers. So basically we have these strange antibodies in some layer of our skin (I am guess where the sweat gland is stimulated by the nerve to initiate sweating).
Any normal time, we seem fine. We don’t itch, we don’t have a reaction. However my skin does always have a little “uncomfortable” feeling even when I am not itching, but maybe it is just me. Anyways, when we get hot, nervous, excited, or whatever, our brains send a signal down through our nerves–all the way to our many many sweat glands telling them to “release sweat” so that it can cool down our bodies.
But at that moment when our bodies release that chemical to initiate sweat, our mast cells break down or our immune system detects this mix of antibodies and acetylcholine (maybe because of too much IgA chemicals), and we get extremely prickly, itchy, and even develop pinpoint hives and flushing. Or perhaps the IgA is clogging our sweat glands?? Who knows exactly what is happening in detail?
If this is correct, then the only way to permanently “cure” cholinergic urticaria, is to find the offending food (or other allergen) that is causing this strange reaction to occur, and completely remove it from the diet. Or hope that our bodies adjust and go into remission at some time in the future, which could be soon or as long as 30 years from now based on most information I have read.
BUT, this diet process is not instant. It will take MONTHS, or even a year to see the 100% full effects (just like in the case of DH above).
How Does this Fit in With Other Physical Hives?
Not only do I think this is what is happening with Cholinergic urticaria, but also the other hives such as Aquatic Urticaria, Dermatographism, Solar Urticaria, Pressure Urticaria, etc. They are all related, but maybe a different component is being triggered.
For some reason, it manifests in a different way for the different hives sufferers. Maybe there are different antibodies involved? Maybe it is different food reactions? Maybe it is just our own unique DNA or chemistry? Who knows? But I think it could be related to all hives conditions (or at least many). Even one article I read said that people with exercised induced angiodema (where you start having an allergic reaction when you exercise-but not like CU-instead their face and throats swell), have in some cases been linked to wheat.
Facts That Seem to Support The Theory:
- Many of us do not report a high effectiveness of anti-histamines. Perhaps this is because of different anti-body involvement, or something.
- Some suspect a genetic link- however, not all of us have family members with it. So perhaps cholinergic is or isn’t genetic. But maybe what is actually causing Cholinergic Urticaria is genetic. For example: A food allergy predisposition can be genetic. So maybe it is the allergy (to say gluten, milk, etc) that is causing the CU. But some members of our family don’t get the allergy gene. Others get the gene, but have a completely different allergic reaction, or none at all? But if it was completely genetic, why does it come and go? Even I have had a remission of my CU (and people in the DH article above also had remission-even though they didn’t change their diet). So perhaps sometimes it comes and goes in some people.
- Symptoms increase and decrease in intensity- This can be due to many things, such as seasonal change. But perhaps also it is diet related. Maybe we go through periods of eating less of the allergen (and have less intense CU), and other times we eat a lot of it (and our CU picks up in intensity). I have witnessed first-hand FOR SURE that when I eat lots of milk, gluten, and processed foods, I not only get very reactive CU, but a skin rash in areas such as my hands/fingers/elbow/neck.
- No one I know has went on a diet removing suspected food allergens for more than a month at most (including me). If this is like DH, it could take several months, or even a year or so for the itching to go completely away, and that is only with 100% avoidance of the food causing the problem. So no one knows for sure if CU is related to diet, because no one has survived long enough on an organic diet, or diet removing their possible offending foods, long enough to see the true results.
- I have talked to one guy that has confirmed a different subset of physical hives (pressure urticaria), that was completely resolved after he suffered with it for 10 YEARS. How did he cure his hives? He did a diet and cut out gluten to lose weight (atkins diet). He cut out the carbs, and noticed his hives were gone after a month or 2. He has now been hives free for years!
Conclusion: Wrapping it All Up:
My latest thoughts are that cholinergic urticaria IS somehow related to some kind of complex food reaction (or other allergen). It is binding and reacting in an unusual way compared to most allergies. Again, it could be so many different things (gluten, milk, wheat, fish, nuts, preservatives, food colorings, artificial flavors, etc.) There could literally be so many possible things that are messing us up. Especially notice how there isn’t much knowledge about CU–perhaps because it is a relatively new disease that is coming about because of all the food industry chemicals that were invented in the past 40 years??
Anyways, I am on this gluten and milk free diet for the long term! I am talking months. I am eating as organic as possible (lots of fruits and veggies). I am eating lean meat (salmon, tilapia, chicken, and turkey mostly). I am also trying to cut down on processed sugars. When I feel the need for junk, I will get all gluten and milk free ingredients, and make it at home myself (such as gluten free/milk free banana nut bread my wife recently made).
I figure that I have nothing to lose on this diet. It doesn’t really cost more money in groceries, etc. I have nothing to lose except the hives. I have everything to gain (better overall health from eating better, could cure hives, could get in better shape, etc.). So I see nothing but positive benefits coming from the diet.
I am going to see how this goes for the next 6 months for SURE this time (at least). No quitting! I am going all the way.
Milk Definitely Intensifies My Cholinergic Uritcaria Hives (9/11/2008)
I hope your hives have been giving you some relief. I have had moderate cholinergic urticaria reactions, nothing too bad. However, they have intensified recently.
Of course, I tried my little diet experiment a while back, where I eliminated the milk/gluten and more from my diet. The rashes I got on my body cleared right up, the hives decreased in intensity, but didn’t go away completely.
I then started “REALLY” craving junk food very badly. I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted, and so I quit the diet. I then went and ate all of my beloved sugar, wheat, and other junk foods these past few weeks.
In fact, since being off the diet, I have ate moderately bad! I have had Krispy Kreme donuts, pizza (with real cheese), blizzards from Dairy Queen, ice creame, those little nutter butter cookies (I love those things), chocolate, and much more.
Of course that isn’t the only thing I have been eating. I have had some wholesome food mixed in during meals. But overall, I have been letting myself catch up on the junk food. So I wanted to give an update on the changes I am feeling with my body. Here it goes:
First-I am now paying the price for eating all this junk food. I have been having some uncomfortable gas/cramping. I have had some bouts of very “loose” stool (poop) on occasion.
Second- I have once again developed a small red bump on the same index finger that I always get it on after consuming lots of milk (no big surprise). Also, I have a few other “itchy” type of bumps on my elbow, and a few random ones on my arm and legs.
Third- The cholinergic urticaria (heat hives) is back up in intensity and reactiveness, which I feel must be due to the increase in some chemical due to the increase in milk in my diet (I don’t know if it is histamine, eosinophils, mast cells, or what)??
Fourth- My abs aren’t so cool looking anymore? Wow, easy come–easy go I guess. But I do feel like crap since eating all this junk. It is hard to maintain focus. I can’t sleep as good, and my body just feels unhealthy. That is the thing I love about the diets when I go on them. I get in great shape, and I actually feel healthy (both mentally and physically).
This is no big shocking revelation. As I found out before, cholinergic urticaria, rashes, and my diet seem to have some correlation, however, I don’t know how or what it is. When I finished up this last diet, I had called it quits for a while and decided that diet wasn’t linked to cholinergic urticaria. However, I am wanting to do more testing, if nothing else, it will clear up the small rash on my finger.
At first, I suspected going on the diet could cure or stop the cholinergic urticaria. I didn’t go on the diet as long as I had hoped (I was hoping to see it play out over the course of months, but instead I only survived for about a little over 1 month).
I admit that I was very weak minded during the last few days of the diet. It was going well when I avoided gluten and milk, but still allowed lots of junk food. However, after cutting out the sugar and junk food, the diet became VERY DIFFICULT. It is like the ultimate temptation, and I was wanting the diet to be over so I could eat all of my favorite junk foods again. I was saying to myself, “Okay, this cholinergic urticaria thing isn’t so bad after all…JUST GIVE ME BACK MY JUNK FOODS.
My Junk Food Binge is Over!
Now that I have had a few weeks to get all the junk food I craved, I am going to try some more things with the diet thing again. Here is what I plan to do:
- First- I am cutting out all of the “junk” again. I will once again go gluten free, milk free for an extended period of time. I don’t know how long this will last, but at least long enough to get my digestion back to normal, and for the rashes to disappear.
- I am avoiding white rice. Last time I survived heavily throughout the diet experiment on white rice. It turns out, that may have been a big mistake. White rice is not really white rice at all. It is brown rice with the shell/coating removed, which causes a significant decrease in vitamins–not to mention that sometimes they even bleach the rice to make it nice and “white”. Then what do the companies do? They add artificial niacin (that chemical I talked about that is known to cause flushing), and other things to it so it can have at least some vitamin content. So I am now going to eat only brown rice which has the whole grain and natural vitamins in it.
- I have lots of veggies this time, and I will be eating home grown tomatoes, peppers and more
- I am going to really try to avoid sugar as much as I possibly can. This is so I can also have an “anti-candida” effect while on my diet, just to rule that possibility out. I will not buy any type of anti-candida treatments, but I will follow a mostly anti-candida natural diet. This is the toughest part. The less sugar I eat, the harder the diet becomes.
I already have food supplies, and I am restarting this diet tomorrow. Again, I am going to be tweaking it as I go along, and removing more foods and changing things to see what happens. I will keep everyone posted. Do you ever notice any connection of Cholinergic Urticaria symptoms and food? If so, let us know in the Cholinergic Urticaria forum.
Update-Still Have Chronic Hives (8/8/2008)
I have now been on the very strict allergy elimination diet for a little over a week now. I have been gluten-free/milk-free for almost a month. This has been very tough, and it is discouraging to see that even though the hives are not as severe, I am still having attacks and I get itchy when I get really hot. For example, today when driving I got a little itchy, but nothing major. So I decided to have a workout today. I did well up until I started getting really hot. At that point, I started getting the itchy/prickly feeling & had to slow down and cool off. Bummer.
I am going to continue this very strict diet until about August 14th. At that point, if I haven’t seen a significant difference, then I may call off the diet & go back to normal foods. Plus I have had several great comments & follow-ups by people (at least 3 people now) indicating that they have confirmed that their dad’s also have mentioned having this for a period of time, and that it eventually went away. Which seems to indicate that perhaps diet is not related (at least in my particular case).
So perhaps this is just a weird allergic type reaction that comes & goes at points in our life?? Who knows? But it gives me a lot of hope & motivation to keep on going and toughing out these itchy hives until one day they go away.
Also, I am really hoping at this point that diet is NOT related to Cholinergic Urticaria symptoms, because I am going to pig out here in a few days…
First Day on the New Diet for Cholinergic Urticaria (8/1/2008)
Well today is the first day on the new diet of eating almost nothing good or flavorful! The diet is already pretty tough-and this is just day one. Today I have eaten a green bell pepper, some cucumber slices, and a lot of rice with diced tomatoes in it–that is it! And that is probably all I will continue to eat for the rest of today.
This diet is already hard, because previously I was eating plenty of good tasting food that was gluten/milk free. So I will see how this diet plays out. My stomach feels good, and my hives are about the same thus far. I just can’t wait to get some answers from this diet, so I can know for sure whether or not diet can cause or affect Cholinergic Urticaria (heat hives).
You Are What You Eat (7/30/2008)
Have you ever stopped to think of this often quoted phrase, “You are what you eat.” If you think about it, that small phrase really has a lot of truth to it. For example, the main source of any kind of vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc. that ever enter your body will mostly come from the foods we consume.
So if people eat nothing but processed sugar, junk food, & more–doesn’t it make sense that eventually it will start taking a toll on the body. Let’s face it, our bodies weren’t really created to consume the amount & types of foods that are commonly available today.
From grease, hydrogenated oils, preservatives, hormones, chemical additives, food coloring, & that is just the beginning. Sometimes I just think of all the cumulative effects this could have over years & years of eating these things on a daily basis. That is also one of my big motivators to start eating more healthy again.
It is funny how my personal tastes have changed over the years. I remember when I was a kid I couldn’t stand tomatoes or onions in my food. Now, I love them! I am beginning to love all the natural foods, because I realize that every time I eat a juicy tomato, or broccoli, or yellow bell pepper, that I am providing my body with a dose of cancer fighting minerals & anti-aging ingredients.
As you all know, I am trying some diet experiments to see if it helps with my Cholinergic Urticaria symptoms. But I thought I would make a quick post to show some of the effects of food allergies, or other chemicals can have.
First Chemical: Niacin
Niacin occurs naturally in many of the foods we eat. It can be an important part of a healthy diet. But look at this article I found on wikipedia. It says that for some people, higher amounts of Niacin can actually cause toxicity in the human body, and lead to a range of symptoms such as:
dermatological complaints facial flushing and itching dry skin skin rashes including acanthosis nigricans gastrointestinal complaints dyspepsia (indigestion) liver toxicity fulminant hepatic failure hyperglycemia cardiac arrhythmias birth defects
I thought that was strange that just too much of one little chemical can make people start flushing & itching. Weird!
I am NOT trying to say that Niacin is what is causing Cholinergic Urticaria or other heat hives. But I am making the point that if chemicals are out of whack (too much or too little), strange things can occur.
Of course, we also know the symptoms of food allergies as well. Here is some information of the symptoms of food allergies from the Mayo Clinic’s website:
“Symptoms For some people, an allergic reaction to a particular food may be uncomfortable but not serious. For other people, an allergic food reaction can be frightening and even life-threatening. Signs and symptoms of a food allergy usually develop within a few minutes to an hour after eating the offending food.
The most common signs and symptoms of a true food allergy include:
Tingling in the mouth Hives, itching or eczema Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, or other parts of the body Wheezing, nasal congestion or trouble breathing Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting ”
What does all this mean?
I still don’t know how much diet may have in the role of Cholinergic urticaria or other hives. But I am hoping I will find out on this diet. I SUSPECT, that in some cases, I could have been causing my stomach problems, rashes, and hives by what I was sticking in my mouth on a regular basis!
What can you do?
First, I am not a doctor, expert, or anything else. Most of what I know has been learned from reading websites (like the links above). But here are a few things you can do with your diet:
First-start paying attention to your body. Do you ever get bad stomach cramps after certain foods? Do you notice an increase in hives after certain foods?
If you aren’t sure, maybe you should start keeping a diary of foods you eat on a daily basis. This way, you can learn of foods that may be upsetting you. If you spot a troublesome food, try eliminating it from you diet to see if you feel better.
Allergy testing-there are various allergy tests that can be performed. Usually it involves blood tests to see if you have antibodies to certain food proteins. This can be done by your doctor or allergist. The only problem is this: You can literally be allergic to almost anything. And the tests don’t have EVERY allergy in the world-only the most common ones. Also, you can get false positives/false negatives with the tests. So it can be tricky.
This article is just a simple article showing that foods can mess you up! Does diet/foods/allergies play a role in cholinergic urticaria–I have no idea! But it is something to consider & think about. If nothing else, maybe you will get motivated to start eating a little healthier.
Small Rash on Face (7/30/2008)
I have a small rash on my face after another stomach upset. I hope your Cholinergic Urticaria is not bothering you. Mine are actually a little more painful these past 2-3 days after the whole stomach episode. Today while I was out in the sun (did some errands today), I started prickling & itching quite badly within seconds/minutes.
But here is the new development: As I mentioned in a earlier post, the hives were doing WAY better. But then, I made the gluten free/milk free pizza, and my stomach went all haywire. So something in those ingredients was NOT good for me.
Then, my hives start up much more intensely. This was a bit frustrating, since I was hoping gluten/milk was the ONLY problem. But it appears that is not the only problem, other foods could be causing this (or perhaps it is MULTIPLE foods I have to watch out for).
As if the whole stomach upset & increase in cholinergic urticaria attacks wasn’t enough, I now have noticed a very small (slightly itchy) “spot” that popped up under my left eye. It is red, slightly scaly looking, and slightly itchy (but not really bad itchy). Here is a picture of it:
It literally popped up out of nowhere, and leads me to think that once again there is something food related in all of this mess. Surprisingly, the spot did not reappear on my finger. Instead it popped up under my eye, which is strange. It has been there about 2 days now. It will be interesting to see if it clears up quickly after starting the new diet.
To be clear, this is just a small itchy rash, and not the kind of hives that sometimes appear in pictures of pictures of Cholinergic Urticaria. I get these random rashes mostly when my diet has been out of whack.
So again let me point out a sequence of events that are starting to form a pattern with me:
1. I eat some bad foods (that contains lots of possible allergens/preservatives/chemicals
2. I get upset stomach (ranging from bloating, gas, intense cramps, diarrhea, and any combination thereof).
3. The hives crank up in intensity
4. I notice a small itchy bump or rash that appears within a few days of all this. When I eat very lean & raw, it clears up, and the hives back down some.
My New Diet Plan-Starts August 1st:
So on August 1st, I am going to really make some massive changes in my diet. I will do this as strictly as absolute possible. I hope to do this for a minimum of 2 weeks, but if I see results, I will try to prolong it further. Here is how I plan to do this:
Old Diet Plan (the one I am on now):
I excluded all foods that contained milk (dairy), and Gluten (wheat/oats/barley/etc.). I focused on building a lot of foods that were good tasting, but still processed, containing preservatives, etc. I also consumed quite a bit of sweets such as cereals, home-made items (mostly derived from powdered sugar/processed sugar).
New Diet Plan: (The One I Will Start August 1st):
I will focus mostly on “raw” and “non-processed” foods. Basically let me put it like this: I want to eat how Adam & Eve would have eaten as much as possible! This means the same type of foods they would have eaten (raw fruits/veggies).
This means I am going to consume lots of cooked brown & white rice (rice is great on my stomach, and is a good “filler food.”). I am going to include raw fruits & veggies & salads from the store, and I will eat them both raw & cooked. I will avoid “canned or frozen” foods as much as possible or completely.
I am also going to try to avoid meat as much as possible. Not that I have anything against meat. It is just that most companies these days load meats up with hormones, antibiotics, artificial coloring (to make it look fresh), and all sorts of things that could be potentially bad. So I will definitely avoid that as much as possible. The only exception is if I find a source that I believe is 100% natural with no chemicals at all added to it-which I may look for if I start craving it badly enough.
I am also going to cut way down on my sugar intake (by probably 80%). I will only drink filtered water (no soda or juice). Of course, I will continue to avoid gluten & milk as well.
In addition, I will avoid all major allergies that I know about. This means no soy, nuts, xantham gum, yeast, milk, wheat, etc. People can literally be allergic to almost any type of food (even some fruits/veggies). However, I am going to primarily focus on the “nasty” type of allergies, since my stomach tends to do well on this raw/plain fruits & veggies, and I don’t suspect I have any issues with those.
Upset Stomach (7/28/2008)
Well as you know, I am experimenting to see if there is any possible connection with food allergies to Cholinergic Urticaria (hives). Basically I just want to rule out food allergies as a possible cause. We I wanted to give an update on the situation that happened over the past couple of days.
First, you all know I have faithfully been avoiding gluten & dairy products, since that is the main suspected food allergens. I also recently made a gluten free pizza as you can see from an earlier post.
The pizza turned out great, and tasted pretty good as well. Everything was great, and I was thinking, “WOW, this gluten free/milk free diet isn’t bad at all.” Yeah, I thought that alright, until several hours later when that pizza had digested!!!
I am not trying to gross anyone out here, but I haven’t had that kind of stomach pain since cutting out milk/gluten several weeks ago. I was DOG SICK all night. I had BAD stomach cramps, bloating, gas, and you guessed it, severe diarrhea (sorry for the details). I stayed in bed for the rest of the night. My wife ate the exact same thing, and only had a little gas. So I know that something in those ingredients messed me up, and my wife doesn’t have a problem with whatever I have a problem with in those ingredients)!
So I was kind of in shock about the situation, because all the ingredients specifically listed that they did not contain dairy OR gluten! So I thought to myself…Okay, perhaps I have an issue with Soy or one of the other ingredients as well (the “cheese” was soy based, and the pizza sauce also had soybean ingredients).
So the next day (which was yesterday July 27th), we made another couple of pizzas (I was finally feeling a little better). This time, I didn’t add the “soy” cheese topping to mine, and instead just had the crust with pizza sauce & pepperoni to see if it would mess me up again without the cheese. And the same thing happened, only not near as severe as the day before (again my wife was fine & actually ate the cheese again on her pizza). I once again had bad gas, bloating, and some cramps (although not really diarrhea this time).
Not only that, after having my stomach all messed (BADLY) all weekend, I have now noticed an increase in my cholinergic urticaria sensitivity today. I just walked outside, and BAM, started getting a little prickly. As you know, I have had a pretty good period of less reactive hives before this incident. My wife & I suspect it is linked to the food/digestion problem. I was doing much better, the hives not near as severe, and my stomach was feeling great.
Then, within the same time period as my stomach getting all crazy, bam, the hives go up a notch in intensity right along with it. I think I am starting to see a pattern here!!
So I looked at all the ingredients on the labels & here they are:
For the Pizza Crust Mix: Whole grain brown rice flour, potato starch, whole grain millet flour, whole grain sorghum flour, tapioca flour, potato flour, evaporated cane juice, Xantham gum, active dry yeast, sea salt, guar gum.
For the Hormel Pepperoni: Pork, beef, salt, contains 2% or less water, dextrose, spices, lactic acid starter culture (not derived from milk), oleoresin of paprika, garlic powder, sodium nitrate, bha, bht, citric acid.
For the Pizza Sauce: Tomato puree (water, tomato paste), soybean oil, salt, spices, parsley, natural flavors (contains soybeans).
So when I ate it with the soy cheese, it really messed me up. When I ate it without the soy cheese, it still messed me up, but not as bad.
So I am just absolutely confused right now about what is going on! So do I have to watch out for soy now as well? Or did some other potential allergen mess me up such as the Xantham gum, or the yeast, or preservative?? It seems that it might have been the soy since that is what really messed me up, and since I still got a dose of it from the pizza sauce ingredients when I ate the second pizza without the soy cheese??
Conclusion: I am still going strong on the gluten free/milk free diet. However, I am starting to realize that if something messes up my stomach that bad, there is a good chance I have some sort of allergy or intolerance to it, and I need to avoid it. It is NOT natural to get cramps that badly, and I KNOW it was from something in that food that messed up my stomach!
An Even Stricter Diet??
Therefore, I have a new plan. I am going to eat up the remaining food I have that is gluten free/milk free over the next few days. Then, I am strongly considering going on a pretty serious elimination diet. I will keep everyone posted when/if I do it. An elimination diet is where you restrict all foods that contain any possible main allergen, and eat as natural & plain as possible. Then you see if the allergies/problems go away.
I am talking plain rice, a few plain veggies, and perhaps some plain sugars (such as honey), and maybe plain meat (without any preservatives, etc.) if I can find it. I would cut out the cereal, snacks, etc. It would be very hard to follow that diet, and I would probably do it for at least 2-4 weeks to see the results. If I don’t see anything after that period of time, then I have no idea! I know my stomach will be better on this diet, because it always feels really good when I eat simple foods like rice & veggies, and even feels good now that I haven’t ate more pizza. But the question is will it help/cure the cholinergic urticaria?
I have to know 100% in my mind whether or not foods or ingredients in my diet is causing this!! Maybe it is related to food, maybe it isn’t? Or Maybe it is multiple foods allergies or multiple things causing this?? I know CU has its normal ups & downs and cycles of intensity, but it seems every time I start to get intense, I can pinpoint a severe stomach episode, or rash on my body that happens right along, or just before it.
If I go on this very restrictive diet, and still have the hives after another 2-3 weeks more on it, then I will have to assume that the diet is not the cause. But I still suspect my diet is somehow link (and my wife does as well).
My Reasons for Testing Diet (7/26/2008)
Sorry for this very long post. Well I have now been on this gluten-free/milk-free diet for a while now. There is still a lot of confusion (at least in my mind) about what exactly is going on with cholinergic urticaria. What exactly causes it to pop up out in the first place? Will it go away? Can it be cured? Is it genetic? Is it some abnormal allergic response? That is one reason why I am trying an allergy elimination diet, so I can see if removing certain possible allergens over an extended period of time will have any impact on the hives.
First, I want to remind everyone that may stumble in from a search engine that I am NOT a doctor, or any kind of specialist in hives, nutrition, or Cholinergic Urticaria. So please never interpret this website or my writitngs as authoritative in any way. In fact, everything I think about hives or experiment with could be completely wrong. Instead, I am just an ordinary guy who has suffered from hives on & off for almost 8 years now! I am sick of it (as I am sure most of you are sick of it), and I am trying everything I can to possibly eliminate the hives.
So I am sure some of you may be skeptical or at least wonder what my reasoning is as far as why I think it may be diet related. I agree with your skepticism, because there is always a possibility that this isn’t diet/allergy related at all. And people with CU may have different causes of the hives. I have mentioned a few things as to why I am on the diet, but I thought it would be worthwhile to write about all of the reasons/evidence why I think it is POSSIBLE that it could be diet (i.e. food allergy/intolerance) related.
Reason #1 Why I Am Trying The Diet– I Have Other Food Issues
I have literally lived my whole life eating whatever I wanted. I never had any food allergies or intolerances that I knew about. However, looking back in retrospect, I now realize that I have apparently had at least one food allergy or intolerance for a period of at least 2 years before my CU started. How do I know that? Well as you may have read from my earlier posts, I have now been able to successfully remove milk/gluten from my diet, and I no longer get severe stomach pains, bloating, rashes, etc. Let’s say I ate a big ice cream bowl or pizza tonight. I can GUARANTEE some severe pain will be in store for me, and I will be in the bathroom for like 1 hour just a few hours later. I have done this little milk experiment several times now, and I now know that it is FOR SURE milk that is causing this. It may be other things too, but for sure milk.
You see, I used to get CRAZY severe stomach problems. I mean I would be sitting in class at school, and suddenly, I would get stomach cramps so bad that I thought I was dying. I would get chill/goose bumps from the pain & the hairs on my arm would stand up. This would have quite frequently, somtimes daily. I never knew why. Now I experience these same symptoms ONLY after I have eaten large quantities of milk (and most things with milk also have loads of wheat–such as pizza, ice cream, etc.).
So if I have had this potential intolerance to milk (& possibly other foods), and yet continued to eat loads of it over a period of years (since I had no idea it was from the milk/foods), then it seems logical that something like that could cause some other strange symptoms to start popping up. It was also probably a big stress to my immune system, and definitely my stomach/intestines.
Reason # 2 Why I am Trying This Diet–I Started Developing Strange Rashes After Consuming Large Quantities of Certain Foods:
Never in my life did I ever have problems with dry skin or eczema or even rashes (with the exception of a few doses of poison ivy here & there-but that only lasted a couple of weeks). Instead the cholinergic urticaria (heat hives) started happening completely by itself with no other skin symptoms present.
However, about 2-3 years ago this changed. See, I have now had CU on & off for about 8 years. I had it bad when I first got it, but then after several months it seemed to completely go away. I then lived completely CU free for a period of time (approximately 2-3 years, but it is hard to remember exactly as I didn’t keep track since I thought it was over).
But about 6 months before I had my Cholinergic Urticaria symptoms come back the second time, I started to get this strange red dry spot that was itchy on the inside of my forearm at the top. I thought it was possibly ringworm or something because it was round. I put some basic corisone cream on it, and it eventually went away. I still didnt’ get CU again (this came about 5 months after that).
But guess what I was doing at that period of time when that itchy small round eczema rash popped up (it was about the size of a penny)? I was…thinking I was the next Arnold Schwarzenegger. I actually bought his weightlifting book, had the weights, and decided I was going to bulk up.
So I started pumping iron, and consuming large quantities of food. Of course, that consisted of lots of bread, milk, meat, etc. After a while, that was when I noticed the red itchy rash I mentioned above. By the way, I actually did gain some muscles, but after about 4 months, I hit a plateau, and I could not gain any more weight muscle for anything. I finally realized that I wasn’t going to realize my dream of looking like Ah-nold unless I took the “juice” like all the other big guys take. Since I am really against purposely harming my body & causing cancer (which is what steroids tend to do), I just gave up my bodybuilding dreams.
Okay, now fast forward about 5 months from that time. I moved out of my house with my mother, and my girlfriend & I got married & moved into our own apartment (the same apartment I still live in now). After a while, that is when the rashes kicked into high gear, and the CU decided to come back. I first started getting that rash on my arm, only this time it brought it’s best friends along with it. The back of my calves started getting a big red rash, that wasn’t super visible, but extremely itchy all the time. On my hands & finger, I started getting these strange bumps. On the back of my neck, I had several rashes, and on the back of my elbows.
At first I thought again I had ringworm or something. It was weird. I bought the anti-fungal cream–and it didn’t help at all. Nothing worked, until I put steroid cream on it. When I did that, it started fading. But not before my CU started happening again.
At this period of time, nothing was changing. I did move into a new environment (same county/location, just into an apartment about 18 miles away. Of course I had different water, but that wasn’t what caused the rashes. Instead, I think I can now chalk it up to the fact that I was eating all the junk foods I wanted since I bought my own groceries. No joke- I am talking 2-4 bowls of ice cream per day, 10 or more bowls of cereal per day, pizza every few days, etc.
At the time I had no idea that it was the milk/wheat foods causing all the rashes. I was depressed, itchy, and thought I would have not only CU but terrible rashes for the whole rest of my life. It sucked bad!
But I eventually started noticing that after eating ice cream, pizza, and milk–I would get cramps. Why it took years to notice, I have no idea. But I eventually started to reduce the quantity of milk in my diet. Eventually, the rashes stopped coming back. I now have ZERO rashes on my body, and it will stay that way unless I start to load up on milk, wheat, (and any other chemicals that may have caused it in the junk food).
Recently my CU hives got worse when I ate quite a bit of dairy/wheat in my diet. And as sure as the world, that little bump on my finger started coming back as well. So do you see that coincidence there: I ate more possible foods that I have an allergy/intolerance to, and not only did I get far more reactive with CU, but I started showing signs of a rash returning (it often starts as a bump on my finger, and then hands/neck/legs). The thing is, it takes a few days to see it happen. The stomach problems will usually happen about 4-5 hours or so after eating (with the exception of bloating which is sometimes instant). The rashes/increase hives don’t happen for a few days later.
So that is a BIG reason why I started thinking in terms of a possible connection of my hives and diet. It seems reasonable to me that if I start developing rashes/itchy bumps on my body by consuming certain foods, why not CU as well??
Reason # 3 Why I Am Trying This Diet: Other Hives Sufferers Have Been Completely Cured After Tweaking Their Diets:
Okay, another thing that has convinced me to really focus in on my diet is the fact that several people online are claiming to be completely cured of their hives after trying a particular diet, or realizing an intolerance/allergy that they never knew existed (and then removing it and bye bye hives).
Now first, these people had different types of hives. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there are several different kinds of hives. Some people had pressure hives (if you touch the skin or apply pressure they have hives). So there are different hives that you can have. And some people do not specifically say the exact hives symptoms that they had, but they do say they had them chronically (for a period of years usually). As far as I know, none of them had CU. But one did have Pressure/Cold urticaria-which is somewhat similar to CU.
I have read now several articles of people being cured from their hives after removing certain foods from their diets. Some of these people had gluten issues, etc. Here is a summary & a few links to verify what I am talking about:
First-A guy online by the ID of sailor– This is a nice guy that I personally spoke to about hives. He goes on the Yahoo answers forum quite frequently & talks to people about hives. He had them for almost 10 years, and went on a gluten free diet by mistake. He then noticed he stopped having hives after about 3-6 weeks of the diet. He has now been hives free for years.
Second: A person that runs a gluten-free blog-Here is yet another person that suffered from chronic hives for nearly 10 years, and now lives hives free after going gluten-free.
Third: There is a Well Known Skin Rash Problem Called Dermatitis Herpetiformis. This is skin rash/itching condition that most doctors are starting to link with Gluten Intolerance/Celiac’s disease. People who have this are sometimes completely cured after going gluten-free. However, it can take as long as months, or even a year for the symptoms to be completely gone, because of the deposits of IgA in the skin (which causes the rash/itching). Almost anyone with this condition is strongly urged to go gluten-free to help control/manage/eliminate the symptoms. This confirmed in my mind that food allergies/intolerances can actually manifest in terms of hives/rashes, etc. Even if they weren’t initially considered diet related (or idiopathic).
Fourth: A Coment on a website about dermographism-Here is a comment left on a site about dermographism (another strange physical type of hives): The comment below is from a health website:
“In every entry I have read in this hives blog (which in and of itself has been comforting to know that I am not the only one that suffers from this odd condition)….BUT…..I have something that might give us hope! It is not one of the easiest suggestions, but it sure worked for me! We may be allergic to gluten y’all! I experimented with a completely raw diet (there are tons of good books on how to get started) and my condition of the itching was GONE 100%! That is, after being completely raw for over a month.
Circumstances having to do with a great friend coming to town caused my stringent diet to gradually go back to the SAD (Standard American Diet) way of eating and sure enough the dermatographism and hives are back with a vengeance and I have not had the motivation to start up with raw again. Can you imagine KNOWING what works for me (at least) and NOT doing it? My doctor said she had met someone who was allergic to gluten and could (and did) write her name on her arm only to have it welt up like what we are all experiencing. So if it’s ONLY GLUTEN, the diet would not be quite as difficult as going completely raw. But after reading books on how very healthy one can get on a 100% raw diet, it’s worth trying at least.”
Conclusion on the resources: These are just a few resources of people personally stating that they were fully cured from their hives. Look at what most of these have in common:
1. They suffered from hives for a long time (up to 10 years) before realizing what was causing it. Most had no idea they had an allergy or problem with food.
2. They had to go on a diet & remove the thing that caused them problems (allergens such as gluten) for as long as 1-2 months or more to see the results! In other words, it wasn’t an overnight thing, or even a week thing. It took discipline of up to 1 month or more to see these lasting results. And they have to stick to the diet or the hives come back.
3. They aren’t trying to sell you something. Always watch out for that online! Instead, it appears that this is simply honest accounts of people who had a problem, were able to over-come it, and are nice enough to share it with others. A couple of the links above are excerpts from a medical article.
Again, the purpose of this entire article is because I wanted to share all of my personal reasons for why I feel there is the POTENTIAL that there is a diet/allergen/intolerance link with SOME CU/Hives cases.
Does everyone in the world with hives or CU have a food allergy/intolerance-probably not, and that is not what I am trying to suggest here. Can CU even be cured? Maybe, maybe not? But that is what I do wish I knew, and hope to find out in the future.
This is simply a theory-nothing more, nothing less. Theories can be wrong, and I may very well be completely wrong or off-base here.
But here is the good news: Some theories can be tested, and this is one of them! So I am currently testing this theory right now personally–and I should have a pretty definite answer within the coming months. I feel that milk/gluten or some other food allergy/intolerance could be linked to my hives. I am basing this idea on the above reasons I talked about.
I plan to test this theory by avoiding milk/gluten from my diet completely for the next 2 months or so. If the diet works-then great! If it doesn’t work-then I will of course let you know about it. At that point I may continue to remove even more food allergens from my diet (such as soy, nuts, etc.), until I have removed all possible sources of food allergies. If that doesn’t work, I will probably experiment with trying other things to see if it helps my hives (such as using different water for bathing, etc).
Some of you may be saying to yourself…”This guy is nuts.” And you probably have every reason to say that. Because the truth is I probably have lost some of my sanity over these past few years of dealing with CU. These hives do drive me nuts, and maybe I am now on the brink of obsessing about curing them.
There was a long time when I just kind of gave up, and decided to just live with the hives. I thought that if that was the card I was dealt, then oh well. But now, my attitude has changed a little. I feel like I owe it to myself to try every possible thing I can to cure these hives (except for taking dangerous drugs/steroids). I will try every food allergen, remove every possible factor I can, and keep trying.
I can get over it if a diet doesn’t work, or if I try things my whole life & I am never cured. But I don’t think I could forgive myself if I didn’t try every possible thing I could try to free myself from hives and then pass this knowledge on to others that may develop this. Especially because I have had some pretty bad times of this, and it has definitely changed my life in many ways. So I continue to push forward, hoping to find a cure, or at the very least, an effective treatment for cholinergic urticaria.
Gluten and Milk Free Living (7/24/2008)
Today my wife & I went to a park, and the store for a few groceries. It was a fairly hot day, and we walked around in the park & threw a frisbee for a few minutes. My skin started to sting and itch when I get hot, but I did NOT have a bad outbreak, and the prickly sensation was not near as intense as it has been (if you remember a couple of weeks back I was breaking out in hives just sitting in my apartment at around 74 degrees, and in my sleep, and as soon as I walked outside. Now, it could be because of the natural fluctuations that people with our hives sometimes have (it can come & go in terms of intensity). But I believe that the results are due to the diet.
So it is making me feel positive, and I hope it is because of the gluten-free/milk-free diet. Again, it is way to early to say for sure if the diet is helping, or if I will see even better results. So I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up (especially mine), but I have noticed a drastic decrease with my hives reactions (and the intensity). But I am not going to get too excited until the hives are completely gone (hopefully) consistently for at least a month or two.
I know that this diet is going to take at least 2 months before I have my answer for sure. But I am looking forward to it. So far, here is a quick recap of the hives situation before/after the experimental diet thus far:
My Cholinergic Urticaria Hives (before the diet):
- My skin was itchy (not hives), but just generally uncomfortable feeling. It was kind of like I could always “sense” my skin in an uncomfortable way. This used to bug me & I felt like I always needed a shower (even though I take one usually daily).
- My skin had a couple of small red/itchy rash-like parts, especially on the inside of my finger as I showed in a picture. This didn’t appear until I was eating more milk & wheat.
- My nose was always stuffy. Literally, I could not hardly smell anything. My sense of smell has been like that for probably a few years now.
- My hives were extremely intense. Like I mentioned above, I started breaking out in my apartment at about 74 degrees (not very hot). If I walked outside or got in the hot car, a bad breakout would happen. If I did any kind of exercise, I would break out almost immediately. Also, if I ate anything hot or spicy or acidic (such as vinegar dressing), I would get prickly in a few spots (usually my scalp/neck/forehead). This all came after an increase in milk/wheat in my diet.
- Occasional stomach upsets/cramps
My Cholinergic Urticaria Hives AFTER Being on the Diet a Couple of Weeks:
- My skin feels so much more comfortable, and even less dry. This has been great, and seems like I can even sleep better at nights because of it.
- The small red rash that had popped up on the inside of my finger (has been there before also), COMPLETELY gone now. My skin in general just looks more clear, and feels softer.
- Hives are way LESS reactive. This has been great. I can work out, and barely get prickly. I was outside even today, had a few prickleys/itchies, but nothing like a couple of weeks ago. Even my wife is pretty surprised by the difference & suspects the diet may actually be working.
- Guess what, when I eat vinegar or even hot spicy foods (such as pepperoni that I just munched on before typing this post)-NOTHING. Not even a slight prick. Which tells me for sure I am less reactive than before when I would eat a bite of vinegar dressing on my salad & get itchy a bit.
- Sense of smell, seems to even be coming back-which is a bit strange. It is still kind of stuffy through some parts of the day, but others it will be so clear & I will get random scents of things I haven’t smelled in a long time. Like today I was outside & I could smell the bark on the trees, and the grass very vividly. So that would be cool if I could smell things clearly again.
- I even feel a little sweaty at times. For example, when sitting in bed this morning with the covers still on me, I noticed my legs felt a little sweaty. This was kinda unusual because I normally wouldn’t sweat unless the sweat was forced out during a hot day (like when I was working outside in 90 degree weather a couple of months ago.
- Stomach has been way better. It is flat now, and I rarely if ever get bloated. We ate some beans & I had a little gas in my stomach (beans beans, good for your heart, the more you eat them…), but nothing compared to last time. I think that was just due to the beans though. No bad stomach cramps, no bad bloating in my tummy, and I feel much better with that as well. It has been like this now for a couple of weeks.
So I am noticing some differences. I hope & pray that this will help. But here is the good news. The last time I cut gluten & milk out of my diet, I gave up after only 3 weeks or so due to a massive craving for junk food & pizza. The temptation was too strong, and even though I was seeing some positive results (similar results like I posted above), I talked myself into giving up on the diet (which I feel was a little too soon in hindsight).
I was still a little prickly, so I convinced myself it probably wasn’t working so I could eat junk. But as I mentioned before in other posts, many people that have these types of allergies & other hives, didn’t see results until after a month or two of following the diet STRICTLY. So I definitely feel that I owe it to myself to do this again to completely rule it out.
But this time, this diet is so easy to follow. Here is why: I am not being as hard on myself as I was before. Before I was only eating raw fruits & veggies, and lean meat. That is basically it! Now, I have expanded my diet to include items that are for sure gluten & milk free, and at the same time delicious. For example, today I had (get this) gluten & milk free ice cream! I know it sounds crazy, but there is actually several brands of milk free/dairy free/gluten free ice cream on the market. It tastes just like the real thing–Even I was surprised! It was by a company called Purely Decadent, and the ice cream was peanut butter zig zag flavor. Yum!
Tomorrow, my wife is going to try a stab at a pepperoni/cheese pizza that is completely gluten free & milk free. The crust is made from a special mix of other flours (such as rice flour, etc.). The cheese is actually a vegan cheese, made from various soy/rice ingredients. The cheese didn’t exactly taste like the real thing when we sampled it, but it is supposed to melt just like real cheese–and it will be close enough. I will try to take a picture of the finished product & post it tomorrow. The sauce, pepperoni, are all naturally gluten/milk free from the companies that make them (Hormel makes great pepperoni).
I have also been snacking on cashews, Lays Staxx chips, cereal (cocoa/fruity pebbles with rice milk), and other great meals/snack foods. So to me it doesn’t even feel like I am on the diet which is a big plus. It did take a little thinking & planning to make the switch, but now it is a breeze & I know exactly what to buy!
As a side note, if this diet does cure me, then I will stay on it for life. I will also be posting recipes & food lists so anyone else can try it to see if it helps them. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself here. I know there is still a very real possibility that the hives may not be related to the diet. But time will tell. That is the great thing about the blog, you can view my results without trying the diet yourself. Although if anyone tries the diet & sees any positive or negative benefits after a few weeks, feel free to let us know in the cholinergic urticaria forum.
Dark Knight Review (7/21/2008)
Well, yesterday my wife & I went to see the new Dark Knight movie featuring Heath Ledger & Christian Bale. It was a great movie, and they did a great job with it. Don’t worry, I won’t be giving any spoilers in this post =).
I like the superhero type movies, such as Batman, Spider-man, and Superman. I really like that Smallville show as well. Superheros are often exaggerations of real human strengths & weaknesses. They have super powers, but usually also have weaknesses or flaws.
If you think about it, I guess we are kind of like the incredible hulk. When he gets stressed or angry, he turns into a big green guy. Instead, we just itch when we get hot. Or maybe we are like Superman, and our “kryptonite” is heat…
Anyways, the great thing about the theaters is that most have a really cool temperature inside, so I didn’t have to worry about breaking out in hives. But as a side note the popcorn is outrageous ($5.10 for a small, and $3.50 for a bottle of water-YIKES). My wife & I decided to pass (we are cheapskates).
Cholinergic Urticaria & Diet Update
As far as the hives, I am actually starting to see some real results right now. I don’t want to get too optimistic, but they seem to be getting less & less reactive on my new diet-and this is not just a placebo effect. For example, about a week or two ago, I could simply walk outside or be sitting in my apartment, and I would break out BAD and almost instantly. Literally I was having reactions about 5 times a day. But now, I am driving in the car, walking outside, and I can even do sit-ups without a major reaction. I am just getting a slight prickly sensation on occasion, and that is fading more & more as each day goes by.
So I am happy about the Cholinergic Urticaria symptoms improving, and I am going strong on the Gluten-free/milk-free diet. I hope that they continue down this path & I can be cured. But if not, I will keep trying new things.
Also, the rash I had on my finger is now pretty much 100% gone. Furthermore, my skin seems a little less dry in a lot of spots where it was dry previously. For example, I always noticed that my cheeks had a slight red look to them on the sides of my nose. It isn’t very noticeable, but it is always dry & slightly red. This seems to have gotten less noticeable, and my wife even said so. So this is making me think that the diet could be really making a difference, since that is the only thing that has changed in the past few weeks (and I have not been going outside more often or forcing sweat).
So overall, seeing the less reactive results & feeling better is giving me a lot of motivation to stay on the diet. It actually isn’t that hard at all this time, because I have tried to find a lot more gluten free/milk free foods that taste yummy. So in terms of taste (and cost) the diet isn’t much different than my usual diet.
I just can’t wait for a few more weeks & months to pass so I can have a definitive answer on whether or not this diet will cure the cholinergic urticaria. I am hoping & praying it does. As I mentioned before, some people I have talked to online that had other types of pressure related hives were cured after altering their diet to gluten free, but it took about a month or two for these people to see the full results–and now no longer have breakouts of hives. So only time will tell if this will help the cholinergic urticaria.
Going Gluten-Free (7/14/2008)
Well as many of you know I have been eliminating milk from my diet to see if it helps my Cholinergic Urticaria. So far, I have not seen any improvements. The red bump on my finger is finally clearing up, though-which could be related to the milk! Also, my stomach hasn’t been upset as much since removing milk. Other than that, my hives are still pretty bad lately.
Since the cholinergic urticaria hives are still there, (and quite intense/reactive) I have decided to upgrade my diet to totally gluten-free and milk free. I actually have been gluten free for the past couple of days. I plan to continue this diet for at least 2 months to see if I can notice any difference in my hives (or if they go away completely).
Again, I have never been diagnosed as gluten intolerant, however, many people who have suffered from hives & other conditions have reported a complete cure of physical related hives (such as pressure urticaria/cold urticaria) after going gluten free. So since it only takes a little reading of the labels & re-arranging of meal plans & grocery purchases, I thought to myself “why not.” I certainly don’t have anything to lose, except possibly the hives (which would be great!).
As some of you may recall, I already tried gluten-free/milk-free diet for about 2-4 weeks in the past to help my stomach bloating/cramping problems and to see if it would help my cholinergic urticaria. I did notice less reactivity with the hives, as well as better digestion at the end of the time period. However, I quit because the hives weren’t 100% gone and the diet is quite hard to stick to when you begin craving all the gluten-filled junk foods.
So since I have read that some people with gluten/wheat/milk intolerances have had their hives clear up after a month or two on the diet, I feel I may have quit a little too early last time. So I am going at it once again, and this time it will be for at least 2 months, possibly much longer (depending on the results). This way I can know for sure and quit wondering if it is a possibility.
As a side note, I am also considering trying to use different water for bathing as well at some time in the future (I will post if/when I try it). The idea would be to used pure/filtered drinking water from the jugs at the store to bathe with, to isolate any possibilities of my water supply causing the hives. I suppose it isn’t out of the question that there could be some kind of mold/bacteria contamination in my water supply (which by the way, actually got a locally bad cleanliness rating on its review this past year). I would probably do this for about 2-3 weeks to see if it approves. But I am going to wait on the diet for a couple of weeks before I try this.
So if or when I try this experiment, I will keep everyone updated. I just hate having cholinergic urticaria. Especially when I have bad breakouts on an almost daily basis and my quality of life takes a beating (like it has recently). I will never stop trying to find a cause of cholinergic urticaria so that hopefully we can cure of this crazy condition (or at least find better treatments)! If the diet doesn’t’ work, or the water idea, then I will try something else. Never give up. I will either rid myself of this one day for good, or die trying. That is how I look at it.
Heat Hives Can Be Painful (6/30/2008)
Probably the biggest problem I have with this hives thing is the painful prickling sensation. Sure it itches too (and the rash/bumps aren’t my idea of fun either), but it is those stinging little pricklies that make you have to scratch, but yet scratching provides no relief. That is the most uncomfortable part of the Cholinergic Urticaria symptoms in my opinion. Sometimes I think if it wasn’t for the stinging it wouldn’t be that bad at all. I could completely manage it. But the stinging & itching sensation can be so strong (and even painful), that it can almost make you turn into a fit of rage. Ahhh, how I dream of those days when I could run & exercise & walk outside with no fear of hives, and sweat would drop from my nose & forehead…I miss those days!
Well I have now been on the diet of NO MILK a couple of days now. I have not seen any results yet, but this is not surprising as it will take weeks instead of days before any results will likely be seen anyway. It seems as if I am not quite as reactive as I was about 4 days ago. I do still have the red bump on my inner index finger as well (which will probably also take a week or two before it goes away).
The way I see it, it is kind of like any other diet. If you went on a diet to lose weight, then you would not expect to see results the next day. Instead, it is a very slow process. So I will be looking for subtle changes over the next few weeks/months. I will be seeing how my skin feels, if the bump on my finger clears up, and if the hives become less sensitive with everything else being equal (no sweat therapy) or other changes.
If I don’t see the results, the I will cut back wheat/gluten out of my diet as well & see if that changes anything. Here is what my diet has been like so far:
Sunday Meals: For breakfast I had a bowl of Dyno Bytes cereal (a generic form of cocoa pebbles) with some rice milk. Rice milk actually tastes pretty good, and has no real milk in it. For lunch I had some beef stew been burritos my wife cooked. Very tasty. And we had the same for dinner. As a snack I had some banana nut bread that my wife cooked from scratch. It was her first time making it, and it turned out great. I was actually surprised at how easy it was for her to make. Just some flour, bananas, walnuts, sugar, and vanilla. Here is a picture of it:
I also snacked on a few cashews, and half of a yellow bell pepper. Everything was milk-free. The cereal, the corn tortillas, even the banana nut bread. I was careful to read all ingredients on every label while buying the items at the store. My wife is also being a great sport & actually avoiding milk with me, which makes life easier on me since she is the cook.
Mondays Meals: Today, I had a dyno bytes for breakfast again, and the tortillas/burritos for lunch & dinner (left-overs from yesterday). I also snacked on a half of a yellow bell pepper, a few cashews, and had a couple of chips & salsa. Again, everything was milk free.
So I will continue on the diet & see how things work over the next few weeks. I am optimistic about the the diet. If nothing else, it will let me know for sure whether anything in my diet is causing (or at least worsening) my hives. So in due time I will have my answer! And if it turns out that a food intolerance isn’t causing the Cholinergic Urticaria, then I can at least mark that off my list as a possible factor.
Cutting Out Milk and Dairy (6/20/2008)
Okay, about a couple of months ago, I did an elimination type of diet. Basically, I avoided foods with gluten, wheat, milk, and other allergens. I did this diet for about 3-4 weeks (I had a couple of days in that period where I had small traces of possible milk/gluten, but overall I was very disciplined). Warning: it wasn’t easy to forget about all the tasty food in the world…
During this time, my Cholinergic Urticaria became less & less reactive, but not completely cured. I could do sit-ups, and go out in the sun for quite a while, but eventually I would get itchy. It wasn’t as intense, and seemed to stop quicker as well.
So I called the diet quits thinking that it wasn’t the answer, and reintroduced milk into my diet. I had severe stomach problems about 4 hours after eating ice cream (no gluten in it). That is how I discovered my milk issue (which I had recently been mostly solving with the use of lactose pills). However, I have now realized that there could be a connection with milk-hives. It is at least a possibility.
Also, I have read a few articles online, that indicate when you have an food intolerance that causes skin conditions, certain antibodies (IgA, IgG, etc.) can take as long as 1 year before the excess antibody deposits are completely gone from the skin. So perhaps my original diet wasn’t long enough anyways?
My New Diet: Milk/Dairy Free
So with my new diet, I will be once again completely avoiding dairy/milk products. I will continue this diet, and continue keeping everyone updated on my progress. My plan is to avoid milk products only, and see if the rash on my finger goes away, and if I start becoming less sensitive with my cholinergic urticaria–while at the same time eating lots of other foods (such as wheat, etc). Again, I will make sure to keep everyone updated with my condition, and also may post some of the foods I am eating while on the diet (it helps me stay motivated & keep track of my progress).
Also, I am still not ruling out a possible gluten issue or other food intolerance 100% at this point. Gluten intolerance is known to destroy the villi in your intestines, which also break down milk & causes lactose intolerance symptoms. So it could be linked to gluten, but at this point I think it may just be milk/dairy, and gluten may be okay for me.
So I will continue to eat oatmeal/wheat, etc. I plan to cut out dairy, and see how that works over the next month or two. If I start to see good results, I will stay on the diet of NO milk.
However, if I don’t see good results, I may remove other things from my diet (such as gluten). Hopefully these next few months will be a learning experience. If nothing else, I can at least see once & for all if there is a diet link to my Cholinergic Urticaria symptoms.
Diet Linked to Hives (6/28/2008)
As you learned from my last post below, I had a pretty rough Cholinergic Urticaria (heat hives) outbreak following a period of excess milk consumption (more than usual for me). Nothing else changed during this period. I had recently been “sweating it out” the previous week.
As soon as I ate more milk, I noticed 2 main symptoms that I think are related. First, the itchy eczema-like bump on my finger, and a highly noticeable increase in my sensitivity (I usually don’t have bad outbreaks just walking outside, or sitting in my apartment).
Putting 2 & 2 together: Milk, Hives, and Itching…Oh my!
So, if I increase milk consumption & begin having skin rashes that appear on my skin about 1 week later, then that tells me milk is doing something in my body that causes a reaction.
So…If milk can cause a physical rash & stomach problems (not CU, but an itchy red bump/rash), then it is not a stretch to assume that it COULD be linked to my Cholinergic Urticaria symptoms. How could it be doing this, I have no idea. Here is a possible theory if milk or food intolerance is indeed the culprit:
Perhaps my milk allergy/intolerance issue is somehow causing a build-up of certain immune antibodies (IgA, IgG, etc), that are collecting in my skin in excessive amounts. These aren’t activated unless I get heated. When I get heated, my body sends a signal to my sweat glands to release sweat. This chemical (probably acetylcholine), activates/stimulates these immune antibodies. This chemical causes our mast cells in our upper skin layer to break down, causing the histamine release, and subsequent itching/prickling.
Maybe that is why the sweating helps us. It keeps the sweat coming out, so it bypasses these chemical responses. The only problem is, once we stop sweating for a few days, or when winter comes…we are back to square one. So maybe that is why sweating helps, but may not CURE the CU symptoms permanently.
Now that is just my theory, not a fact. I could be completely wrong about this. It is simply an idea. I am not a doctor & certainly not an expert on hives/CU. But it is a working theory that may change over time as we find out more & try more experiments. Also, I will be doing an experiment with my diet to see if it helps. It may turn out that milk causes skin & stomach issues, but has nothing to do with CU. Only time will tell.
So, if that is true, then it could be something diet related (such as food intolerance such as gluten, milk, wheat, etc.), or a parasite or something that causes the body to build these chemicals up. It could be different for every person. I am thinking in my situation it is diet related.
Keep in mind, there is a guy named “sailor” that is on the yahoo answers forum, that has confirmed that he found out he was gluten intolerant. After about 1-2 months of going gluten free, his hives went away completely (he didn’t have CU, but had a different type of physical hives).
Pretty Bad Cholinergic Urticaria Hives Attack (6/28/2008)
Well I just wanted to update everyone on my own hives situation, and also tell you about a few experiments I am going to try with my diet soon.
First of all, as many of you may know, I have already determined through a diet test that milk is no longer my friend. Apparently, I have some sort of milk intolerance/allergy. I was completely unaware of this until recently, and used to eat lots of ice cream, etc. I only noticed this after having a lot of stomach problems, and completely removing milk from my diet a few months ago. I then reintroduced milk into my diet, and had severe stomach problems.
So, after this little experiment I decided I would try to reduce the milk in my diet, and when I felt the urge to eat it, I would simply take those lactose pills so it wouldn’t upset my stomach. Overall, the lactose pills worked well (but they are fickle & you have to make sure to take enough of them).
Anyways, I have been taking the pills, and still eating some milk products here & there. Then, over this past week, I got a lot of snack food on my grocery store visit. I got a lot of those little snicker bars (milk), some chocolate peanut butter cups (milk), ate a peanut butter milkshake (milk), and had a pizza (milk), and a couple of twix bars (milk), oh yeah, and those little peanut m&m’s (milk).
I did have some stomach upsets (just a little cramping), but that isn’t the reason I am writing this post. Instead, I think there is a strong possibility of a food intolerance with at least some Cholinergic Urticaria sufferers (myself included).
After about 2-5 days of eating all of these little snacks loaded with milk/dairy ingredients, I began to develop a small red/itchy bump on the inside of my finger. I have had CU off/on for about 7 years now (almost 8), and I never had any rashes or eczema issues. But I did develop a rash on the back of my neck/arms/hands about a year ago, which I was able to eliminate by reducing my milk intake, and with the help of a topical steroid cream.
Now, by eating a lot more dairy than usual, this bump appears (it appeared before in the exact same spot when I had my rash outbreak last year). Here is a picture of it (it is kinda hard to see with the lighting in the pic).
But that isn’t the only thing that has happened. Many of us on the forum have been trying to use a “sweat” type of therapy, which involves trying to make our bodies more adapted to sweating. Well I had been trying this with great results. I worked outside a few days during the week, and was sweating fine. Then, I had a period of a few days where I mostly stayed indoors (also the same time when I was eating all the milk products).
Well, suddenly after these few days I became super-reactive. Literally, I started getting prickly just sitting in my apartment. The thermostat read 71 degrees, and I am usually fine at that temp. I continued breaking out like this for 2 days. I walked outside & immediately got prickly. I also got prickly in my sleep. Ugh. I hate the painful symptoms of cholinergic urticaria!
I even had a “BAD” type of outbreak. I was just sitting in my apartment. Suddenly I felt the prickly stinging/itching sensation in a few spots. So I scratched & didn’t think about it. Then, it kept doing it. I thought…Okay why am I breaking out right now. I then start scratching myself like crazy on my head, chest, abdomen, arms, etc. I told my wife to grab our camera. Then, after intense itching, my chest became red in a lot of areas, and I developed a few of the “pinpoint” hives.
It was itching & stinging very intensely before any physical symptoms appeared (such as the red flushed skin & hives). I usually don’t have very visible symptoms, only during a very bad attack like this one. I was itching so badly I could barely hold still long enough for my wife to snap the shots.
By the way, about 10 minutes later, the hives and redness were completely gone.