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Suffer From Hives and Allergic Swelling? Natural Ways to Help Allergy-Related Edema

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Suffer from allergy attacks? Find out how you can naturally reduce allergic swelling below.

If you have allergic reactions to certain triggers, such as insect bites, certain foods, or exposure to certain materials, you know just how scary the experience can be. Not only does the face, hands, eyes, and tongue swell, swelling can occur in other parts of the body, leading to breathing or swallowing difficulties. 

This form of under-the-skin swelling is caused by plasma leaking out of the blood vessels and into the layers of the skin. This condition is known as angioedema; which is a type of edema. Angioedema is slightly different from hives because the swelling occurs under the skin rather than on top of the skin. In some cases, individuals will suffer from both hives and angioedema at the same time.

What is edema?

Although millions of people suffer from edema, there is little known about the cause condition. Most doctors simply prescribe a combination of treatments to reduce swelling without looking at the underlying cause. Some forms of angioedema are hereditary, but others are not. According to Web MD, edema is a normal bodily response to inflammation or injury, but certain factors can make edema out of control. Edema is a response to many medical conditions, including heart disease, pregnancy, kidney disease, liver disease, critical illnesses, and tumors.  Anyone can get edema at any time, but certain genetic factors make the chances much higher.

Allergic swelling a type of edema?

You may be surprised to learn that allergic swelling is a type of edema, but the symptoms are the same as for any other form of edema. In fact, edema is simply the medical term for swelling, although it has come to be known as the condition itself, rather than a symptom. Edema is a symptom where plasma leaks out of the blood vessels and leads to puffy skin that is characterized by “pitting.” Pitting is simply when the skin does not immediately spring back into place after it is pressed with a finger. The depression may last for less than a second or several seconds.

Commonly, edema is present during pregnancy, can occur due to a nutritionally-unsound diet, and is often present as a side-effect of many health problems, including diabetes, liver disease, heart disease, and tumors; according to Wikipedia. Edema caused by insect bites and skin contact with plants is called cutaneous edema. Angioedema edema often occurs as a response to contact with allergens.

Conventional treatments for allergic angioedema

According to Medscape, treatment of allergic edema varies by severity of the condition. 

Conventional treatments for allergic edema 
Immunomodulatory drugs

Antihistamines

Corticosteroids
Antifibrinolytic agents
Fresh frozen plasma

Conventional treatments for hereditary angioedema

Hereditary angioedema is a serious condition because there are few known triggers for the swelling. The swelling can occur at any time, for seemingly any reason. In the worst-case scenarios, the condition can be life-threatening. Currently, there are three main treatment methods for hereditary angioedema affording to data published by Up to Date in July of 2013. These methods include:

C1 inhibitors: C1-inhibitors are a protein derived from human blood plasma. This protein is administered into the veins in the treatment of acute attacks. Side effects of this treatment method are rare, and range from headaches to fever. Some patients have a C1 inhibitor allergy, with symptoms that include itching, further edema, and anaphylactic shock.

Bradykinin B2 receptor antagonist: This synthetic form of the bradykinin B2 receptor antagonist is approved for use in patients 18 years and older. The polypeptide antagonizes the bradykinin B2 receptor and works to reduce swelling. Most common side effects include nausea, pain at the injection site, fever, headache, and dizziness.

Kallikrein inhibitors: This treatment method is a genetically engineered plasma kallikrein inhibitor. It will block the production of bradykinin, which works to reduce swelling. It is approved for patients 16 years of age and older. Side effects include allergic reaction in 2.7 percent of patients, nausea, headaches, fatigue, and diarrhea.

The trouble with conventional treatments

Conventional treatments are effective at treating allergic swelling. However, for individuals who see frequent swelling, these control methods come with side effects that may lead to additional problems. According to an article by the Hospital of Special Security from 2002, continual use of corticosteroids can lead to issues such as a lowered immune system, weight gain, insomnia, bone thinning; and most troublesome, further fluid retention.

According to a 2012 study by Toxicol Pathol, extended use of immunomodulatory drugs leads to an increased chance of the development of lymphoma and skin tumors. Web MD cites drowsiness, impaired cognitive function, mood changes, and blurred vision as side effects of the use of antihistamines.

Treat swelling naturally the moment it occurs

You don’t have to run to the doctor every time you experience allergen-related edema. There are a couple of remedies you can try to bring down the swelling on your own. If your tongue swells or you cannot swallow, or have a life-threatening allergy to a certain irritant, however, visit your doctor right away.

Wrap the swollen area in a vinegar wrap

Apple cider vinegar is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. The book, "The Healing Powers of Vinegar" written by Cal Orey states that apple cider vinegar contains the following swelling-fighting ingredients:

Potassium: Potassium prevents the cells in the body from filling with water, which can lead to water retention and edema. A potassium deficiency is a leading cause of edema in non-allergic cases.

Pectin: Pectin reduces LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, which can lead to water retention.

Avoid contact with the allergen

If you know certain irritants, foods, or materials give you edema, try to reduce contact with these allergens. It may be possible to reduce your allergic reaction symptoms by changing your diet (see below), but until then, keep away from known allergens.

Calm swelling with mustard seed

Add about ½ a cup of mustard seeds to 2 quarts boiling water and boil the seeds until half the water has evaporated. Dip a cloth into the mixture once it has cooled and then apply it to the swollen area.

Apply tea tree oil

Tea tree oil can reduce swelling from an allergic bite. Mix  1 part tea tree oil with 4 parts neem oil and rub over the surface of the bite or swollen area.

Preventing allergic swelling with diet and supplements

Taking certain steps to change your diet and supplement your diet with anti-inflammatory supplements may reduce your chances of swelling due to allergens. In fact, some studies show that diet changes may reverse allergies, according to Natasha Campbell-McBride,  the author of the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia.

Take probiotics

A 2005 study published in Proc Nutr Soc conducted by Ninewells Hospital and Medical School indicated that infants supplemented with probiotics were able to heal their allergies to cow’s milk. The study found that many allergies are caused by an imbalance in the immune system, caused by improper diet in infants. Probiotics help restore the delicate balance of the immune system.

Change your diet

The book Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia by Natasha Campbell-McBride suggests that a diet change can improve many conditions, including ADHD, autism, and allergies. This diet (known as the GAPS diet) focuses on eliminating processed foods, refined sugars, and most starches from the diet. It starts with a limited diet that slowly adds foods back in over time. Many members of the natural health community approve of this diet, but it has undergone no scientific studies as of 2013.

Reduce inflammation 

There are many herbal supplements that have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body and lower your risks of swelling. Dr. Robert Graham, a medicine specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City offers a list of helpful supplements. 

 

Supplements that reduce inflammation 
Spirulina
Fish oil 
Horse chestnut
Dandelion
Goldenseal
Eyebright

If you follow these steps, you should see fewer edema reactions from allergen triggers as well as avoid the side effects of traditional medical treatments.

Sources


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edema

http://uhs.nd.edu/assets/22785/allergies_hives_rashes_handout.pdf

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/heart-failure/edema-overview

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