Dear Dr. Donohue — I am a 71-year-old woman whotravels frequently with her husband. I may have missed a column youwrote on hives. I have had them recur now for a number of years.Enclosed you will find a synopsis of my breakouts and thetreatments I have gotten from an allergist and dermatologist.
Most of the time, clothes cover my hives. this week a fewappeared on my arms, legs and face. since February, I have beenfree of hives for only a few days. one span that was hive-free wasthe time I took six days of cortisone, and again when I had aninfected tooth extracted. I would appreciate any help you can give.— J.O.
Answer — Your thorough account of yourexperience with hives was very interesting. I wish I could havesubmitted it entirely for the public to read. and the care given toyou by your allergist and dermatologist has been excellent. I can’tadd much to it.
Everyone thinks of allergy when they experience hives. Chronichives, however, rarely are due to allergies. Sometimes, they mightoccur from food allergies, but that, too, is unusual. If you cantrace an outbreak to a particular food, you have solved yourproblem. Soaps, laundry detergents, medicines, pressure from beltsor bra straps, hidden infections, sunlight and exposure to cold areother triggers for hive outbreaks.
In your case, relying on daily antihistamines often can stopoutbreaks or make them shorter and less bothersome. the Zyrtec(cetirizine) you were taking was effective for quite a while. If itno longer is effective, then switch. An older antihistamine,Chlor-Trimeton (chlorpheniramine), is sedating but can be taken atnighttime so sleep isn’t interrupted by itching. Claritin(loratidine) and Allegra (fexofenadine) can be taken during theday. Sinequan (doxepin) is an antidepressant that has potentantihistamine activity.
Dear Dr. Donohue — please explain water pills.is the water you get rid of different from the water you drink? Ona hot day, can you drink as much as you want to stay hydrated? —B.D.
Answer — the water you get rid of throughtaking water pills is urine. It is not the exact same as the wateryou drink, but it’s mostly water, with dissolved waste material andsome minerals in it. most water pills work by increasing the amountof sodium (salt) excreted into the urine. Sodium takes with itexcess body water.
It’s pretty much OK to drink as much as you want on a hot day.you lose a lot of body fluid on such a day by sweating and bypanting. Thirst indicates that you need to drink more water, butit’s not always a reliable indicator. some people have a largewater deficit without being thirsty.
Write Dr. Donohue at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, Fla.32853-6475.