Urticaria/angioedema is very common and usually not very serious. The main diagnostic task is the history, asking about pharmaceutical agents, foods, focuses of infection, physical agents, and psychogenic factors as well as inhalants, insect bites, internal diseases, immune complex diseases, contactants, and genetic factors. The main therapeutic tool is to eliminate the offending agent. If this cannot be done, therapy should begin with an H1 antihistamine pushed to tolerance or clearing. Life-threatening laryngeal edema and/or anaphylactic shock are extremely rare. Laryngeal edema is usually a component of hereditary angioedema. In such cases, subcutaneous epinephrine is the drug of choice. Laboratory investigation in chronic urticaria should include CBC, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and a serum multiphasic analysis. A myriad of laboratory tests can be done in chronic urticaria, but some cost-yield effective ones are a test for antinuclear antibodies and x-rays of the sinuses and dentition.
Not available online.