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A man allergic to cold temperatures nearly died after a hot shower

Published Nov 2nd, 2020 11:20PM EST
Cold Allergy
Image: kieferpix/Adobe

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  • A 34-year-old man with a cold allergy nearly died after stepping out of a hit shower.
  • The man needed immediate medical attention and was admitted to the ICU, where he received adrenaline and other drugs that improved his condition.
  • Cold allergies are infrequent, and they could be just as life-threatening as more common allergies. The man was given an adrenaline auto-injector to have handy in case of future attacks.

The novel coronavirus is out of control in the northern hemisphere, with the winter season seemingly fueling the new surges. The virus survives better in lower temperatures, and the cold is also a good incentive for people to congregate indoors. And COVID-19 spreads very efficiently indoors, especially at home, where people are likely to ditch masks and ignore social distancing.

But COVID-19 is just one of the temperature-related issues that one man who was the subject of a recent study has to worry about. This person has an extremely rare condition that has already put his life in danger: Being allergic to cold temperatures.

Allergies are quite common, and they come in various forms and severities. Hay fever behaves just like a cold and is especially scary during the coronavirus pandemic, as it comes with congestion, runny nose, and even conjunctivitis-like symptoms. Food allergies and allergies to specific drugs are also fairly common, and can be serious.

But an allergy to cold temperatures is not something you hear about that often. A 34-year-old man suffers from the condition — which is called cold anaphylaxis — and he came to discover just how dangerous it can be after he stepped out from a hot shower and encountered cold air.

He went into anaphylaxis, which requires immediate attention. According to a report in The Journal of Emergency Medicine, the man developed cold-induced urticaria (hives) and anaphylaxis and was rushed to the emergency room. His family found him on the floor of the bathroom, as the man had collapsed.

His symptoms included hypotension and shortness of breath, and he required two doses of intramuscular adrenaline. He was then started on an adrenaline drip. The doctors also administered antihistamines and steroids at the hospital, and the man got an adrenaline auto-injector to have handy in case it ever happened again.

The man’s family was already aware of his condition, having told the paramedics who arrived on the scene that he suffered from a cold allergy. He discovered the problem after moving from Micronesia to Colorado. But until the shower episode, the only cold allergy symptom he had ever encountered was hives. The doctors used an ice cube test to confirm the diagnosis.

In their study, the doctors warn that cold anaphylaxis is a life-threatening phenomenon and that health care providers should pay attention to it. The condition can explain the “unclear and sudden decompensation in critically ill patients, as has been reported in cases of cold anaphylaxis induced by cold IV infusions.”

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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