5915 Landerbrook Dr, Ste 110   |   Mayfield Heights, OH44124   |   Phone: 216-381-3333   |   Fax: 440-443-0700   |   ois@allergycleveland.com
Top Rated Allergists & Asthma Specialists in Cleveland & Northeast Ohio

Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria (CIU)

Chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU), like other serious medical conditions, could require many visits to various medical professionals before a diagnosis. All the while, the discomfort and cosmetic impact can be hard to live with. Naturally, you’ll be looking for help to deal with your illness, but treatment can bring up questions and concerns. Ohio Infusion Services understands and aims to keep you informed about your infusion treatment options. Let’s work together to better manage your CIU symptoms.

What Is Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria?

Chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU) defines the illness within its own name: “urticaria” is the medical term for hives; “chronic” indicates a duration of 6 weeks or longer; “idiopathic” means that the cause isn’t readily known. So recurrent hives that come without a known cause and last an extended time are the hallmarks of this condition. While there isn’t general consensus on the cause of CIU, many researchers believe it to be of an autoimmune nature.

Hives are a skin condition arising from the body’s reaction to histamine in the bloodstream. They are commonly seen in allergic reactions, and CIU hives can be raised white or red itchy welts, or wheals, that vary in size and distribution and can both fade and reappear as the reaction runs its course. The demographic most likely to experience CIU are women between the ages of 20 and 40.

While specific causes aren’t known, there are several documented triggers for CIU:

  • Extremes in temperature
  • Vasodilation from alcohol consumption
  • Local pressure and friction from tight fitting clothing and physical exertion
  • Emotional stress
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) (e.g. aspirin and ibuprofen)

To diagnose CIU, your doctor will often first run tests to rule out common allergic reactions and other conditions. They’ll also want to know about your habits, diet, and current medications. After treatment, an episode of chronic idiopathic urticaria will eventually resolve, but it’s not possible to know when this will be or whether it will eventually return. In general, chronic hives can be a recurrent problem for up to 5 years and in a rare case, a bit longer.

Infusion Therapy for Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria

For patients with chronic idiopathic urticaria, the body produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) in response to an inflammatory trigger. IgE then naturally attaches itself to receptors on an inflammatory–or mast–cell, prompting the release of histamine and causing inflammation that leads to the presence of hives and any other symptoms of CIU. If your chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU) is unresponsive to standard antihistamine medications, your allergist or immunologist could prescribe Xolair (omalizumab) infusion therapy. Xolair is a biologic drug therapy that interrupts the IgE/mast cell reaction and can reduce CIU symptoms. This effective treatment is administered via biologic injection to patients 12 years of age and older every two to four weeks. 

Side Effects of Infusion Therapy for Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria

While Xolair is generally well-tolerated, there are always risks associated with new treatments, and a medicine can react differently in each patient’s body. Some of the signs of a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis are dangerous and could include:

  • Wheezing, shortness of breath, cough, chest tightness, or trouble breathing
  • Low blood pressure, dizziness, fainting, rapid or weak heartbeat, or increased anxiety
  • Flushing, itching, hives, or feeling warm
  • Swelling of the throat or the tongue, throat tightness, hoarse voice, or trouble swallowing

This reaction could be experienced right away or after several doses. If you experience any of the above symptoms after leaving our facility, immediate medical treatment at a nearby hospital is vital.

Other less threatening symptoms could include:

  • Headache
  • Respiratory infection, cold, or cough
  • Nausea
  • Irritation, swelling, or pain at the injection site

What to Expect from Infusion Therapy for Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria

After you talk through a Xolair biologic therapy treatment and its risks with your doctor, you might decide to proceed. Your physician will then need to issue a referral to our facility. While you’re here for your infusion our skilled and compassionate staff can review your treatment plan and discuss what you need to know about your therapy.

At Ohio Infusion Services, your first treatment will always be overseen by our on-site physician or nurse to ensure that the treatment is well-tolerated and that the dosage is correct. For each subsequent therapy session, you will have private access to your own treatment space along with complimentary amenities. Our trained staff will be nearby should you happen to need medical help. 

While we can’t give you a clear timeline to feeling better, clinical studies have been promising, with most patients experiencing a drastic reduction in symptoms and some even being hive-free at only a week or two after treatment. After a full course of treatment, remission is possible and the outcome for the vast majority of patients.

If Your Doctor Prescribes Infusion Therapy, Let Ohio Infusion Services Help You

We know your medical situation is stressful, so we make sure that working with us is a simple process. All we need is a referral from your prescribing physician. In the meantime, we kindly request that you please fill out a new patient form, letting us know about your interest. We will then reach out to discuss your options. We work with most common insurance providers and can typically order your medication and schedule your infusion right away. We currently are reliably open Monday through Friday and are working on expanding our availability. 

At Ohio Infusion Services, our staff will do all they can to streamline your treatment process and get your therapy underway quickly. If you'd like to learn more about our treatment options, please call us at 216-381-3333 or submit an online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you and are always here to help!