You'll probably first visit your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, you may then be referred to a doctor who specializes in allergic disease.
Because appointments can be brief, and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions ahead of time will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For chronic hives, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- How long will these hives last?
- What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- Do these treatments have any side effects?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- I have other health problems; are the recommended treatments compatible?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Do you feel tightness in your chest or throat, nausea or difficulty breathing?
- Have you had any viral or bacterial infections recently?
- Have you taken any new medications recently?
- Have you tried any new foods?
- Have you traveled to a new place?
- Do you have a family history of hives or angioedema?
- Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
What you can do in the meantime
If you're experiencing mild hives, these tips may help relieve your symptoms:
Sep. 17, 2011
- Avoid irritating affected areas.
- Cool the affected area with a shower, fan, cool cloth or soothing lotion.
- Wear loose, light clothing.
- Use over-the-counter antihistamines to help relieve the itching.
- Hives. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/skin-conditions/dermatology-a-to-z/hives. Accessed April 3, 2011.
- All about hives (urticaria). American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. http://www.acaai.org/allergist/allergies/Types/skin-allergies/hives/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed April 3, 2011.
- Khan DA. Chronic urticaria: Standard management and patient education. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 9, 2011.
- Kaplan AP. Urticaria and angioedema. In: Wolff K, et al. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 7th ed. New York, NY.: The McGraw-Hill Companies. 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=2958607&searchStr=urticaria#2958607. Accessed April 11, 2011.
- Kropfl L, et al. Treatment strategies in urticaria. Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy. 2010;11:1445.
- Bingham CO. New onset urticaria: Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and etiologies. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index/html. Accessed April 9, 2011.
- Limsuwan T, et al. Acute symptoms of drug hypersensitivity (Urticaria, angioedema, anaphylaxis, anaphylactic shock). The Medical Clinics of North America. 2010;94:691.
- Hives: Tips for managing. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/skin-conditions/dermatology-a-to-z/hives/tips/hives-tips-for-managing. Accessed April 11, 2011.
- Peroni A, et al. Urticarial lesions: If not urticaria, what else? The differential diagnoses of urticaria. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2010;62:557.
- Bingham CO. New onset urticaria: Diagnosis and treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index/html. Accessed April 9, 2011.
- FDA requests labeling change for leukotriene modifiers. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2009/ucm166293.htm. Accessed April 12, 2011.
- Immunosuppressant drugs: Required labeling changes. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm171828.htm. Accessed April 12, 2011.
- Urticaria treatment. American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. http://www.acaai.org/allergist/allergies/Types/skin-allergies/hives/Pages/urticaria-hives-treatment.aspx. Accessed April 8, 2011.