FAST FACTS: What is Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria?
MANILA, Philippines – Television and online personality and host Kris Aquino revealed that she has been diagnosed with Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria (CSU), an autoimmune skin disease, on Thursday, October 11.
The actress officially announced her condition after undergoing several tests in Singapore.
"To be specific I now know I have Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria, and yes, mine is an autoimmune disease. I am now, and for the rest of my existence will be, on high dosage antihistamines and having the EpiPen will always be crucial. Severe allergies are life threatening because of anaphylactic shock," she said in an Instagram post.
According to the United States' National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, autoimmune diseases are brought about by issues in the immune system which cause it to attack the body's own healthy cells by mistake.
Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria (CSU) is one of more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases.
What it is: Urticaria, more commonly known as hives, is a skin condition characterized by red, swollen marks that appear in the body. It causes mild to severe itching, and sometimes induces burning sensations.
As with other allergic reactions, urticaria is often mild and disappears on its own, but in serious cases, they can cause anaphylaxis, which is when the body's immune system overreacts to a trigger.
According to Medline Plus – a repository of medical information by the United States National Institute of Health – anaphylaxis is a medical emergency, and patients who experience it usually have difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips and tongue, chest pain, and dizziness. They could also faint or pass out.
Urticaria is often triggered by certain food, medication, insect bites, and many other allergens.
What distinguishes CSU from other forms of urticaria is that hives appear unpredictably (without physical triggers) at any place in the body, and can persist from days to years.
The United States National Library of Medicine's National Center for Biotechnology Information refers to CSU as a condition where "persistent symptoms" of hives appear "for 6 weeks or more."
The chronic disease can be distressing to those who have it, as it often causes disturbance in sleep, lack of energy, isolation, and anxiety.
According to the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria affects around 1.8% of the world's population.
It is also more common in females than males, and symptoms usually surface among people aged 20 to 40.
Medical professionals have yet to discover what exactly causes the disease, but it can be triggered by allergic reactions, pain medications, changes in temperature, infection, pressure on skin, or stress.
Chronic urticaria is also associated with other autoimmune diseases, such as thyroid diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, and Celiac disease.
Cure: Since the underlying cause for acquiring CSU is unknown and difficult to determine, there is no specific cure available. Doctors advise patients to undergo several tests and body examinations to pinpoint possible causes.
High dosage of antihistamine is the most common treatment for chronic hives to relieve overall symptoms of swelling and itchiness. Other treatments include immunosuppressing drugs and immunotherapy.
The disease can also be managed by avoiding allergy and physical triggers, and by undergoing lifestyle changes.
Kris is treating her condition with high dosages of antihistamines, which she said she will be taking "for the rest of my existence," and an EpiPen – an epinephrine auto-injector that is administered as an emergency measure to those experiencing severe allergic reactions.
Not a few celebrities are afflicted with some type of autoimmune disease, and according to Kris, her awareness was raised by those who have been open about their journeys with their conditions – in particular, Gigi Hadid, who has Hashimoto's Disease, Selena Gomez, who has lupus, and Wendy Williams, who has Graves Disease. – with a report from Amanda Lago/Rappler.com