Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm Insanely Itchy!

I'm feeling much better than before. My low-grade fever reached its peak at 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday. By Tuesday evening my temperature was down to 98.8, and today it was 98.4 at last check (for reference, 98.6 is considered perfect).

The thing about low-grade fevers is that they are high enough that I feel really awful (with headache, achy body, generally feverish, etc.), but they are low enough that I am still pretty functional. My fevers usually hang around 99.0 to 99.2, so the 99.5 on Monday was a bit of a surprise.

Anyway, fevers are not what this post is supposed to be about....

Just so you know, right now I am insanely itchy.

So itchy, in fact, that I've scratched so hard in a few places that I've unintentionally drawn blood. It is taking a lot of self control to not scratch long enough for me to type.

Why am I itchy, you ask?

Here's the background. I've had severe allergies since childhood. A few years ago I had allergy testing and started immunotherapy (allergy shots) for grasses, trees, and dust mites. I've still been experiencing allergy symptoms even though I've been on allergy shots, so I wondered if I had developed a new allergy to my cat whom I've had for just two years (see Healing Power of Pets for a photo of my cat, Callie).

I went to see my allergy and asthma doctor last week, and she scheduled me for a cat allergy test (to be done today).

I was instructed to stop my antihistamines (generic Zyrtec and allergy eyedrops) for one week before my test; however, I could take Benedryl up to 24 hours before my test if necessary. Within a few days of my stopping my antihistamines, I started feeling itchy in my hands and feet. Benedryl was the only thing that helped the itching and allowed me to sleep.

After a long, itchy week (which included my weekend of low-grade fevers) I finally had my cat allergy test this afternoon. On the bright side, I'm not allergic to cats. Hooray!

On the downside, now that I've been a week off Zyrtec my entire body is itchy. Really itchy.

All day I thought that the first thing I wanted to do when I got home was take my antihistamine to stop the itching. However, I also wondered why I was itching so terribly because I did not remember ever itching this much in this way before (except when I was experiencing anaphylaxis after an allergy shot gone awry). It is important to note that I have eczema, but what I am experiencing is not an eczema itch.

Rather than popping a Zyrtec when I got home, I got online. I wondered if stopping an antihistamine after taking it for a long time would cause itchiness, so I searched for "itchy after stopping antihistamine."

Amazingly, I stumbled upon a woman's blog called "Quit Zyrtec, Get Itchy!"

Wow. It described what I seem to be experiencing.

I'm going to test this possibility (i.e., that I am itchy because I stopped taking Zyrtec) by not going back on the Zyrtec for a while (or never again...haven't decided yet). So that I do not go completely insane (and so that I stop scratching until I bleed), I have to take Benedryl to help stop the itching at night so that I can sleep. I may eventually try switching to a low dose Claritin.

I'll be sure to post updates.

I need an ice pack right now.

Today's Activities: work. Today's Most Annoying Symptoms: exhaustion, muscle fatigue, mild headache, eczema flare up on right ankle, ITCHING!

Mood (10 is best): 6
Energy (10 is best): 4
Physical Discomfort (10 is worst): 8 (because of the horrible full-body itching)


Jo said...

Ouch poor you! I've just had a mild dose of uritcaria after abx and so I can sympathise. Although it must be much worse for you.

Actually, as I was reading I thought 'rebound effect'. I get a rebound effect if I stop taking anti inflammatories after a while on them.

Hope it goes away soon.

Joanne said...

Poor you it must be unbearable.

I have itchy areas of skin which I have associated with my Lyme but fortunately it is confined to small areas at a time so bareable.

I do hope it passes soon.

I am a firm believer that we must be our own best advocates our doctors see us for such a short time and then move quickly on to the next person now with the help of the internet we can learn to assess our own symptoms and be in the best position to discuss details with a doctor.

Good luck

Pamela said...

Hi Alyson,

I have ME/CFS and fibro and have had a whole bunch of allergies and intolerances since I was a kid, which includes a propensity for my skin to get itchy. I find that natural products (gels, shower soap, etc.) containing aloe helps to calm the problem. It isn't a "cure", but it might be worth trying.

smilinggreenmom said...

Wow...I just know I was meant to read your post today. Our little boy has had severe food allergies and Eczema since he was a baby and nothing (no meds, no creams and no doctors) could help him. He was miserable and could not sleep at night either. We actually feel like we have experienced a miracle though once we put him on Vidazorb chewable probiotics! They began clearing him to the point of hardly even being able to see any Eczema on him and he was able to sleep all night. It has been wonderful to see our little one so happy and healthy now all because God gave us Vidazorb.

The reason I think the timing of your post is odd is that we just ran out of our son's hydroxyzine antihistamine three days ago. This is the only thing he takes anymore and I just thought since he has been taking it for 4 yrs now every nt that I want to see if he can handle not taking it. SAME THING that happened to you, happened to him! He has been waking up again and itchy??? Not nearly as bad as he was prior to his probiotic, he still looks really great...but is itching more now.

I'd love to hear more on this and what you find!!! Email me if you ever want :) Have you ever thought about probiotics? Maybe this would help you too!

Take care

Renee said...

Oh, this sounds so uncomfortable, Alyson. Hope it clears up fast! I have never had the problem as cannot take most meds, but it just does not seem like any fun at all!!!

upnorth said...

it sounds terrible....I hope you feel better soon...

alyson said...

Wow, thanks for all the comments!

Jo – I agree. I’m strongly suspecting this is a kind of rebound effect. Thanks for checking in!

Joanne – So true, so true. The internet has become an amazing resource. It’s helped me to be better able to discuss so many important issues with my doctors and understand my own symptoms.

Pamela – Thank you for visiting my blog! I am a big fan of natural products. I haven’t tried any with aloe yet, but I’ll be on the lookout. Do you have any particular brands that you recommend?

smilinggreenmon – Thanks for visiting my blog! Wow, what timing. I hope your son is starting to feel better now that a few days have passed. I’ve been on probiotics for a while now, and I love them. I have IBS and chronic yeast infections. The probiotics have helped me on both counts. I wonder if they’ve helped me other ways that I don’t even know...

Renee – Thanks for stopping by! It is definitely not fun being so itchy. At least things seem to be getting better.

upnorth – Thanks for the well wishes!