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Living With Stress Related Hives

Updated on December 4, 2014
Modern day stress can be overwhelming to the mind and body.
Modern day stress can be overwhelming to the mind and body. | Source
Hives are not contagious but can be very uncomfortable.
Hives are not contagious but can be very uncomfortable. | Source

Hives are a skin disorder which appear as raised patches of red skin that can cover small to large areas of the body. They are not contagious but are extremely itchy and not attractive in appearance. Hives are the result of your body reacting to an allergen. Every person has different reactions to allergens; therefore, the cause of hives are unique to each person.

When your body comes into contact with something it does not agree with, it releases histamines into the bloodstream.Your body then sends out a warning signal, in the form of hives, to let you know something is not right. For most, this is a most annoying message.

I have suffered from hives throughout my life as a response to sulfur based medication, but three years ago that changed. I developed a severe case of hives without taking any new medicine. Plus, the whelps did not go away after a few days of taking antihistamines. I knew immediately this was a different case with an unknown cause.

Gardening is an activity that relieves stress and cultivates nature at the same time.
Gardening is an activity that relieves stress and cultivates nature at the same time. | Source
Looking at beautiful images raises the serotonin levels in the brain.
Looking at beautiful images raises the serotonin levels in the brain. | Source

Searching for Help

I visited my family doctor who put me on a steroid pack and antihistamines. At first the medicine slowed the spreading, but once I finished taking the drugs, the hives continued to grow. I was referred to an allergist. I had never visited one, and after four weeks of suffering, I was ready to try anything.

The allergist immediately placed me on another steroid pack and cortisone cream. By this time, the whelps were every place on my body except my face and back. Each night I bathed in an oatmeal bath product then lathered down in the prescription cream. Another two weeks passed, and my problem had not improved. It was time, according to the allergist, to start the tests.

I took every test the allergist could give. I had tested negative to over 500 known allergens. He sat down across from the examination table and just stared at me. I don’t think anyone had ever passed the 500 test with such flying colors as I did. The next step was to test for autoimmune disorders; tests that were not covered with my insurance. I did not like this option.

He asked me if I had been under a lot of unusual stress lately. Indeed, I had. Where would he like me to start? In a four year period, I had lost my dad, and both brothers (43 and 48 years old). I was now the sole caretaker to my elderly mother. I had gone through a cancer scare myself, then a hysterectomy. My job at a nonprofit was in jeopardy of being dissolved. Oh, and I’m sure he did not want me to go into the severely disturbed foster children that we had taken into our home.

The poor guy looked shell shocked. He took a deep breath and informed me that I had stress related hives. Well, in my opinion, that made a lot of sense. He said since I was in reasonably good health, the expensive tests were not needed. I agreed.

Stress hives arise because of chronic stress or tension. Yes, I had years of both and I guess my body could not hold it all in anymore. The good doctor told me the hives would go away once the pressure is removed. Sure, that’s an easy task.

He told me that I had to get my anxiety under control if I did not want to follow my kin into the grave sooner than later. Stress hives are a sign of too much inflammation in the body. Inflammation can cause heart attacks and strokes among other illnesses. It is also a sign of a weak immune system, which I already knew I had. Since the beginning of what I call “the dark years,” I had suffered a couple of bouts of pneumonia, several cases of bronchitis, and more than a few stress fractures. I would not relive my 30s if someone paid me.

I had to take the doctor’s orders to heart; I did my best to remain calm, relaxed, and experience joy again. After nine weeks, my grief was finally relieved. My husband and I have not taken in any more children, and I have been able to concentrate on myself a lot more.

Take Care of Yourself

I have tried to live my life in a more careful manner when dealing with stress. I have started to have fun again and that is a big accomplishment. I watch funny movies, quilt for a good cause, and garden for wildlife.

Laughing is really a great activity to reduce stress. I recently reconnected with an old friend and we talk and laugh for hours. Above all, take great care of yourself. Rest when you need to, laugh every day, and tell the people in your life you love them while they're here.

About the Author

Catherine Dean is a freelance writer, gardener, quilter, and blogger. Her professional background includes nonprofit program development, grant writing, and volunteer management. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications from Georgia College & State University.

Her blog, Sowing A Simple Harvest, chronicles a modern couple trying to live a simplistic, sustainable life. To explore Catherine's professional credentials, visit her website. She can also be followed on Google+.


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