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Chapter 21: Urticaria and angioedema

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Urticaria, also known as hives, may affect up to 20% of the population at some time in their lives. Urticaria is characterized by extreme pruritus and described as erythematous, raised, circumscribed lesions with central pallor that blanch with pressure. The pathogenesis of urticaria involves mast cell activation, with subsequent release of histamine and other vasoactive mediators, leading to increased vascular permeability of postcapillary venules and development of edema, erythema, and pruritus. Urticaria is closely associated with angioedema in 40% of individuals; ∼10% of patients experience angioedema without urticaria. Urticarial lesions often are generalized with multiple lesions in no specific distribution; angioedema tends to be localized, commonly affecting the face (periorbital and perioral regions), tongue, uvula, soft palate or larynx, extremities, and genitalia. Urticaria is subdivided into acute and chronic urticaria based on duration of symptoms. Acute urticaria lasts <6 weeks and an identifiable cause may be discovered such as food products, medications (aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and antibiotics), or insect stings. Urticaria lasting >6 weeks is designated as chronic urticaria, and an etiology is seldom identified and thus considered idiopathic. Chronic urticaria may have an autoimmune basis. There is a well-documented association between autoimmune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto's disease) and urticaria and angioedema with higher incidence of antithyroid (antithyroglobulin and antiperoxidase) antibodies in these usually euthyroid patients. Furthermore, studies have revealed a circulating IgG antibody directed against the IgE receptor (FRIα) or IgE in 40‐60% of patients with chronic urticaria. Histamine 1‐receptor antagonists (antihistamines) are initial therapy.
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Keywords: Acute urticaria; IgE receptor (FCεRIα); angioedema; antiperoxidase; autoimmune; chronic urticaria; hypothyroidism; pathogenesis; thyroglobulin

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 2012

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  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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