Cold urticaria is a rare disorder that causes sufferers to have a strong allergic reaction to cold temperatures and stimuli. Patients who suffer from the disease may find they have to take antihistamine medication daily to prevent a reaction, carefully manage the temperature around them, treat nasal symptoms with a medication like Flovent and take precautions to avoid accidental exposure to the cold. If you suffer from cold urticaria, you may find buying Flovent online can reduce your medical expenses over time.
Symptoms of Cold Urticaria
Patients who suffer from cold urticaria have a severe allergic reaction to cold stimuli. Symptoms include itchy, swollen hands and feet, hives, nasal allergy symptoms and possible anaphylaxis. Hives may be red or white, and are typically raised and cover the area of the body that was exposed to the cold. However, if the exposure was extended or prolonged, the hives may expand to cover more of the body as the reaction worsens.
Exposure to cold triggers a severe histamine reaction in the body, leading to these symptoms. The condition can be genetic or acquired, but researchers have yet to discover the cause. Cold urticaria is diagnosed by an allergist who performs a cold test by exposing the patient to a cold stimulus and carefully noting the reaction that occurs. While the condition can be managed with medication, limiting environmental exposure is also a part of controlling its uncomfortable symptoms.
Situations That Can Trigger a Reaction
If you have cold urticaria, you’ll likely experience hives and itching any time you are exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or a sudden, dramatic drop in temperature. This means that cold ambient temperatures, cold drinks, stepping into air conditioning or jumping into a swimming pool may trigger an allergic reaction. In addition, as sweat is a physiological response designed to help cool the body, you may find sweating too much may cause hives as the skin temperature changes. Carrying a towel with you and wiping sweat from the skin before it has a chance to dry may limit the reaction.
Coping with situations that trigger reactions can be especially difficult for parents of small children, as your child may not understand why he or she cannot eat ice cream, go swimming or play outdoors in the winter. In severe cases, where reactions frequently occur, patients may find it is necessary to relocate to a warmer area of the country to limit their exposure to the cold.
How to Manage the Allergy
Cold urticaria is typically handled through a combination of medication and environmental management. Sufferers typically have to avoid iced drinks and cold food, outdoor winter weather, swimming pools, air conditioned areas and other places where the ambient temperature is low or a sudden temperature drop can occur.
Unfortunately, this can sometimes be impossible. Thus, many patients also take medication to manage their symptoms. Some patients may find they are able to swim if they take an appropriate dose of an antihistamine medication, swim in warmer water and slowly expose their body to the temperature change.
If you suffer from cold urticaria, you may find carefully managing your environment helps control your symptoms. For example, drinking only room-temperature beverages, avoiding cold foods and bringing a jacket with you to guard against sudden temperature drops can reduce the chance of a reaction. If you find an area or stimulus is too cold and is triggering a reaction, leave as soon as possible and warm the affected area. While you may still experience an allergic reaction, it may be less severe or only affect a limited area of your body.
If you have been diagnosed with cold urticaria, your doctor will likely prescribe a strong over-the-counter antihistamine to reduce the likelihood of a severe reaction. You may choose to take this daily or only to take it before exposure to potentially cold stimuli. You may also be prescribed a medication — like Flovent — to help prevent nasal symptoms caused by the illness. In addition, you will probably be prescribed an EpiPen, so in the case that you experience a histamine reaction causing anaphylaxis, you have emergency medication available.
While a small, localized exposure to a cold stimulus may cause hives on a limited area of the body, a body-wide exposure (such as quickly drinking a cold beverage, having a medical professional insert an IV line that is too cold or jumping into a cool swimming pool) may cause a more serious reaction that could include anaphylaxis. Without immediate treatment, an anaphylactic reaction can be fatal. Carrying an EpiPen is necessary for situations such as these.
Image by David Castillo Dominici from FreeDigitalPhotos.netAbout the Author: Dr. Rodney Sewell is a contributing blogger with almost two decades of experience in the medical profession.