Urticaria is a disease that is too often undervalued and has a strong impact on the daily lives of those who suffer from it. This is the picture offered by a survey of the ISTUD Foundation illustrated in the press conference on the World Hives Day, promoted in Italy by Federasma and ALLERGIES Onlus. Epidemiological data shows the profile of the typical patient affected by this disease to be between 14 and 60 years old and undergoes a course of treatment with obstacles, in many cases unsatisfactory.
Urticaria is a relatively common disease which affects the population between the ages of 14 and 60. Yet in many cases, it is not treated in the right way. Instead of going to the dermatologist, many people rely on “do it yourself” methods. ” To highlight this, is Professor Marcello Monti, head of Dermatology at Humanitas Hospital, according to which even those who turn to a doctor, often mistake them for a specialist. “Some people ask advice from a general practitioner, or go to an allergist or immunologist. However, hives is not an allergic or immunologic disorder and to cure it, you must consult with a dermatologist. ” continues Monti.
What are the symptoms of hives?
“Hives firstly present themselves through the appearance of hives on the skin, similar to those of mosquito bites, associated with swelling and itching. If the swelling is located in deeper layers, it is called angioedema, which in addition to causing pain, can also restrict the movement – says Professor Monti. Urticaria is a disorder of the blood vessels that leads to the release of fluids into the skin, causing the formation of hives. ”
(For further information, click here: Urticaria affects 20% of the population)
Unfortunately, 83% of patients rate the care pathway unsatisfactory. A key role is played by the difficulty in reaching a definitive diagnosis, which in 75% of cases comes only after consultation with at least three doctors, however for about 10% of patients; the goal is achieved only after having visited more than 10 experts. What’s more, in 76% of cases, the relationship with the doctor was perceived negatively.
Hives can be both chronic and acute
“In rare cases, urticaria manifests itself in an acute form, as a transient attack, while in the majority of cases, it is a chronic problem – observes Professor Monti. This is because many people are turning to the wrong specialist and trying to cure the disease following antihistamine therapy, corticosteroid therapy or immunosuppressive therapy. These treatments do not help cure the disease, but rather turn it off temporarily, thus making it chronic. ”
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Another source of frustration for patients is the demand by doctors to perform many complex tests that are always negative. Patients are dissatisfied with the treatment programs as well. The result is the need to live not only with the disease, but also with stress, fatigue, anger, shame and loneliness. In fact, only in 17% of cases, does support come from family.
Urticaria is often misdiagnosed
“Often, urticaria is treated with inappropriate medications such as cortisone or immunosuppressants. It is not in fact a form of allergy or autoimmune disease. The use of antihistamines, which are drugs used for hives, can only decrease itching / redness but they do not reverse the hives. Even cortisone is able to eradicate it but only to turn it off temporarily and making it increasingly chronic. The use of immunosuppressants act as cortisone and expose the body to the risk of developing other diseases.”
(For further information, click here: Cortisone, the joker of anti-inflammatory medication)
Professor Monti says that the best way to counter the hives is to use a medicine called flunarizine, which isadopted in the Protocol of dermatology at Humanitas. “The calcium antagonist flunarizine is a drug that is taken in cycles of 21 days per month. It must be performed in 3-4 cycles and it continues to be effective even after suspension of the treatment.”