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Urticaria: symptoms of hives are easy to manage
About one in five Germans will develop hives (urticaria) at some point in their lives. The condition causes itchy wheals and swelling of the skin. Thanks to modern antibody therapy, the prospects of successfully fighting hives have improved significantly.
One of the most common skin diseases
Hives (urticaria or urticaria) is one of the most common skin diseases. Approximately one in five people develop it at least once in their life. The causes of hives can have many different reasons: intolerance, infection or physical stimuli such as pressure, cold and light. In some cases, medication is also responsible for the development of hives. Thanks to a modern treatment method, the disease can usually be managed well today.
Symptoms are similar to those of an allergy
Despite the different triggers, the symptoms of urticaria, also known as hives, are similar to an allergy. These are often large, itchy wheals and swelling of the skin, reports the University Clinic Carl Gustav Carus Dresden in a message.
This complicates the diagnosis and often means that urticaria is often only recognized and treated after a long period of suffering.
As scientists from Charité University Medicine Berlin have found, hives can be treated with an asthma medication, among other things.
And thanks to modern antibody therapy, the prospects of successfully fighting hives have improved significantly.
Around 20 percent of Germans suffer from hives in the course of their lives
According to the Dresden University Hospital, around 20 percent of all Germans suffer from acute urticaria in the course of their lives.
Wheals form suddenly on the skin - often only a few with a small circumference, which spread widely and can thus occupy a large part of the body surface.
Even mucous membranes, for example in the pharynx, are possible areas for hives to spread.
If symptoms persist for more than six weeks, doctors speak of chronic urticaria. These patients are under constant high suffering.
Different causes possible
Chronic spontaneous urticaria often occurs as a result of infectious processes as a malfunction of the immune system in the defense against infections.
Bacterial infections in the gastrointestinal area and in the area of the throat, nose and ears, but also on the tooth roots are the cause of infectious urticaria.
Another large group of patients suffers from autoreactive urticaria, in which the mast cells responsible for wheal formation are activated by the body's own substances.
But intolerance reactions to pseudoallergens such as aroma, preservatives and colorings or even to natural food components can be responsible for the hives.
"If chronic urticaria is not quickly identified and treated by specialists, patients are exposed to unnecessary suffering," said Prof. Michael Albrecht, medical director of the Dresden University Hospital.
Antibody therapy brings rapid success
Doctors therefore have to systematically clarify all options to find out whether there is a hives behind the rash or whether there is an allergy or an intolerance.
In the event of a diagnosis of urticaria, innovative antibody therapy can be started. "Most urticaria patients are almost symptom-free as early as two to three days after the start of therapy," said Prof. Andrea Bauer from the Department of Dermatology at the university hospital.
The team led by Prof. Andrea Bauer sees 600 to 700 patients a year in the urticaria outpatient clinic of the Clinic for Dermatology.
Quite a few of them suffer several years before they are diagnosed correctly and receive therapy that stops the strong symptoms.
In some cases, these are even life-threatening: for example, the throat can swell, causing patients to suffocate. In some patients, it is the lips or tongue that swell a lot, which significantly limits speaking and eating. (ad)