Hives, also called urticaria, are one of the most common skin conditions allergists see in their medical practices. It is a type of skin rash that is characterized by raised, red bumps that are inflamed, itchy, and uncomfortable. In some cases, the bumps even sting or burn.
For most people, hives are not dangerous. It typically lasts a few days and does not leave any long-lasting skin changes. That being said, the condition is unpleasant, and the presence of urticaria can indicate a serious underlying health issue. What causes hives? There are numerous possible causes, but sometimes the rash is a symptom of a potentially life-threatening disease or illness.
Here are 13 serious illnesses that hives can be a symptom of…
Research suggests that both lymphoma (cancers originating in the lymphatic system) and lung cancer are linked to hives. Hives have also been associated with gastrointestinal issues.
Nowadays, doctors will generally test for cancer when an individual presents with hives and reports experiencing cancer symptoms such as coughing, pain, weight loss, and lymphadenopathy.
Type 1 Diabetes
Fortunately, most problems involving the skin are benign and not serious. However, hives and various other skin conditions can indicate that a person has type 1 diabetes.
Diabetes signs and symptoms to look out for on the skin include the development of blisters, persistent fungal infections that occur repeatedly, eruptive xanthomatosis, and dermopathy.
Hives can occur with lupus in some men and women. It affects about 10 percent of people with the disease. Normally, though, a butterfly-shaped rash will appear on the nose and cheeks.
The butterfly rash (called a malar rash) that sometimes occurs with lupus can appear on the face randomly or after sunlight exposure. Often, it appears just before a flare-up.
Research studies have shown that up to 50 percent of people with chronic hives also have Hashimoto’s disease. This is an autoimmune disorder that causes hypothyroidism.
Hive symptoms tend to be more severe when a person has Hashimoto’s. Also, look out for symptoms such as fatigue, hair loss, depression, constipation, and muscle weakness coupled with hives.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, and inflammation in the body’s joints. It can also cause tiredness, weakness, weight loss, and malaise.
Hives on the skin are another recognized symptom of rheumatoid arthritis. While the rash is commonly a side effect of medications used to treat the condition, that isn’t always the case.
In Sjogren’s syndrome, the immune system attacks the eye and mouth glands, hindering the production of tears and saliva. The result is symptoms such as burning/itchy eyes and difficulty swallowing.
The skin can also be affected when you have Sjogren’s syndrome. Ailments may show up in dry, itchy skin or hives outbreaks, or skin lesions that appear as blisters, lumps, or ulcers.
Celiac disease is characterized by gastrointestinal problems that result from an inability to digest gluten. Gluten is a protein in barley, wheat, and rye that is found in many common foods.
Gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea and bloating are typical with celiac disease. However, these can be subtle, and many people experience fatigue, hives, and other seemingly unrelated symptoms.
Raynaud’s disease causes certain areas of the body – particularly your fingers and toes – to feel numb, painful, or cold in response to certain stimuli. Moreover, it can cause outbreaks of hives.
What causes hives in Raynaud’s disease? Red, itchy welts can develop as a reaction to cold exposure. Known as cold urticaria, it usually occurs within minutes, and reactions may be mild or severe.
Vitiligo is a skin condition that some individuals experience with hives. It occurs when the immune system attacks and kills off the skin’s melanocytes, causing the loss of color in patches.
There may be an outbreak of hives with vitiligo (which affects about 1% of people globally) when the body’s defense system attacks skin tissues upon mistakenly detecting allergens.
Pernicious anemia is a rare disorder that occurs when a person has a vitamin b12 deficiency and the body does not produce enough red blood cells. Without treatment, the condition can be fatal.
Common symptoms of pernicious anemia include fatigue, dizziness, clumsiness, pale skin, and tingling and numbness of the extremities. Less commonly, the hive is a symptom of the condition.
Hives and hives-like symptoms can be a sign that there is a bacterial infection in the body. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) and strep throat are two infections known to trigger hives.
Tooth decay is another well-known culprit, although bacterial infections don’t always cause hives. Viral infections like Hepatitis B, influenza, and the common cold can produce urticaria.
Hives can be triggered when you have mental stress or impaired cognitive functioning from a chemical imbalance in the body. In general, stress can cause a variety of health issues.
Suppose there is disorientation, confusion, and memory loss to a large degree. In that case, this could indicate insufficient blood and oxygen reaching the brain due to infection or an underlying disease.
Scombroid poisoning is an illness that results from eating spoiled fish. It causes unpleasant symptoms that normally begin an hour after ingestion. In severe cases, the poisoning can cause death.
Classic symptoms of scombroid include nausea, vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea. These may be very mild, however. Other symptoms include flushing, a racing heart, itching, and hives.