Can You be Allergic to Cold Weather or Temperatures?
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Everyone feels cold during winters but if you get hives or a severe allergic reaction to cold temperatures then what you have is a different problem altogether. If you notice changes to your skin or any other symptoms or experience anaphylaxis due to sudden exposure to cold temperatures then you might have cold urticaria or allergy.
In a recent case study published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, a 34-year-old man suffered from low blood pressure and breathlessness after taking a cold shower and had to be admitted to the intensive care unit. After investigations, doctors concluded that the patient had experienced a severe allergic reaction to cold temperatures. This not only indicates that cold allergy is real but also that you should be aware of any symptoms that may occur to avoid severe outcomes.
What causes cold urticaria?
Cold urticaria often runs in families and, in other cases, it can be triggered by autoimmune diseases, viral infections, chickenpox, viral hepatitis and other conditions that affect your blood. If you have cold urticaria, sudden exposure to cold temperatures can cause symptoms. If you suddenly step out in cold weather, take a cold shower or suddenly enter a cold temperature environment like a walk-in freezer, it can trigger the increased production of histamines in your body. High levels of histamines in the body is the direct cause of cold allergy in most cases.
Symptoms of cold urticaria
Usually, symptoms of cold urticaria can occur within 1-5 minutes of cold exposure and the effects can last for a few hours. Cold allergy symptoms can range from mild, which are usually non-life-threatening, to severe, which can cause hospital trips and even death. Severe symptoms of urticaria may take days to go away. The following are the mild symptoms of cold urticaria:
- Red, itchy and swollen welts at the location of cold exposure, also known as cold hives
- A burning sensation in the skin as your skin goes from being cold to warm
- Joint pain
The following are the more severe symptoms of cold urticaria:
- Anaphylaxis or severe acute allergic reaction
- Wheezing and other respiratory difficulties
- Heart palpitations
- Swelling in the tongue or throat
- Sudden onset of low blood pressure
Treatment of cold urticaria
Cold allergy cannot be cured but it can be prevented if you take ample precautions against the cold weather and cold temperatures in general. If you do accidentally get exposed to cold temperatures, your treatment will focus on managing your symptoms and bringing your vital statistics back to normal.
Doctors often recommend antihistamines to deal with the histamine surge when the cold allergy is triggered. In other cases, doctors may recommend steroids, antibiotics, synthetic hormones or immunosuppressants to deal with the issue. If you’re at risk of severe reactions, then you may be required to carry injectable epinephrine or an EpiPen.
For more information, read our article on Hypothermia.
Health articles on News18 are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.