You Might Be Allergic to Cold - Medical Syndrome Cold Urticaria
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You Might Be Allergic to Cold - Medical Syndrome Cold Urticaria

Some people have a medical syndrome that causes serious allergic reaction to the cold. This includes weather, food, water, cold objects and sometimes windy damp weather.

If sensitivity to cold temperatures runs in your family, you may have the genetic medical syndrome called cold urticaria. Urticaria is commonly known as hives which can present as welts, bumps or a raised rash.

Cold urticaria is suspected when exposed skin develops rashes, hives, itching and swelling when exposed to cold temperatures. Swimming or immersion in cold water may cause a serious reaction and even death. Symptoms and complications may also occur when eating cold foods that cause swelling in the mouth and throat. Even holding a cold object with bare hands may cause swelling and hives on the hands of those with cold allergies.

Cause

A single gene mutation is being investigated as the cause of cold allergies. Individuals and family members with cold urticaria may also have additional symptoms including a deficient auto-immune system. The result of this genetic mutation is that immune system cells are shut down. The body, when faced with the allergic reaction to cold releases histamines that cause hives and swelling.

There are some other underlying conditions that may cause cold allergies and it is important that the possibility of other serious conditions be considered. Other conditions that may cause cold urticaria are mononucleosis, hepatitis, some forms of cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.

There are no preventative measures that you can take to prevent cold allergy, it is only able to be managed but not cured.

Diagnosis

The easiest way to diagnose cold allergy is to rub or dab ice on a patch of skin. Welts or rash will appear after the ice is removed.

Remedies

One remedy is to simply avoid those situations in which your skin and other tissues will be exposed to cold weather and cold objects. Things like swimming and eating ice cream may be prohibited. Antihistamines are often prescribed and even epi-pens may be advised, particularly for younger children who do not understand the consequences of cold allergies. Your doctor may also recommend an anti-anxiety or anti-depressant to alleviate the symptoms. It may be possible, if your doctor allows it, to take a preemptive antihistamine if you are planning an outing or event where cold cannot be avoided. Your doctor will advise you on your treatment plan and ongoing procedures and lifestyle considerations.

Social Concerns for Children

It may be difficult to convince people that you are indeed allergic to cold. Children and teenagers may particularly be subject to accusations that they just don't want to go out in the snow or in the water or that they are "babies" or "sissies". Even adults who care for children with cold allergies may not believe the children that they care for or may accuse parents of being overly protective. Consider providing informative articles and resources from your doctor to schools, relatives and care-givers. 

Mayo Clinic: Cold Urticaria 

Bloomberg: Cold Sensitivity Gene Mutation: Cortez (Jan. 2012)

The New England Journal of Medicine: Cold Urticaria, Immunodeficiency and Autoimmunity Related to PLCG2 Deletions

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Comments (6)

Very interesting and informative share....first I've heard of this medical condition. I learned something new today by reading this article. Thanks for posting valuable information. Voted this one up!

An expert discussion, thanks.

Ranked #18 in Allergies

I'm with Donata and Michael on this one, Judith.

Ranked #8 in Allergies

Thank you for the comments. I first came into contact with cold allergy when a student in my middle school clinic had this condition. We had both an epi-pen and anti-histamines on site for her. I mentioned the scoffing because that is exactly what happened at first, a lot of eye rolling by staff when it first came up. It actually ended up that I had two students with it.

I have never heard of this medical condition. You have educated my today on this interesting condition. I am following you now and voted this up.

Promoted this nice article, sorry I am out of votes. Thanks for the good info here. Please consider me.

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