I’m allergic to the cold…no, really, I am!

From the first day of winter up to this first week of autumn, it has been an unusually warm year for the record books.

Temperatures in Michigan spiked into the 80s in as early as March and the summer months reached triple digits on what felt like a daily basis.

It was truly an unseasonably warm year to remember that I will miss fondly, and I’m willing to bet I’ll miss it more than you.

It’s not because I may enjoy warmer weather more so than the next person or because summer is my favorite season, but because I physically cannot enjoy time spent in cold temperatures. I am allergic to the cold — no joke.

Once winter arrives and the ground is again covered by a fresh blanket of snow, I will defiantly stand and admire the beauty of the sparkling white powder from inside my apartment, with the heat cranked on high, through my foggy window.

Because, you see, I am forced to enjoy it that way. I don’t have much of a choice on the matter and I haven’t since I was about 12 years old, when I was diagnosed with “cold urticaria.”

What is cold urticaria, you ask? To put it simply, I am allergic to ‘the cold,” much like how you may be allergic to cats or your child may be allergic to bees. If I spend time in cold temperatures, I have an allergic reaction — again, no joke.

For someone who has lived in the state of Michigan for the entirety of their lives, the condition may seem like a cruel joke, as the winters here can be occasionally brutal.

Sometimes I truly feel that way — and here’s why:

As a sufferer of cold urticaria my skin reacts in response to cold stimuli, such as drops in temperature in both air and water. This results in a histamine that is released from my skin in response to the cold stimuli, causing itchy red hives to form that will last as long as I am exposed to the cold temperatures.

The condition is most common in people from ages 18-25 and is usually dealt with for five to six years, however, like I said earlier, I had my first reaction when I was only 12, while swimming in Wabasis Lake. Today, I am 26, yet frequently continue to get itchy skin when out reporting on a story on colder days.

There is no cure for the allergy, but when I do have an outbreak, the treatment is rather simple — get warm! I retreat indoors and within 15 to 25 minutes my hives subdue and my skin returns to its normal state.

There are hundreds of thousands of Americans with this condition, though it is commonly described as one of the top 10 oddest allergies. In the most severe situations it can result in shock, and in very rare cases, death, but I am thankful my reactions have yet to be so severe.

For the time being, the allergy is manageable and I’ve already dealt with it for 14 years. If you invite me to go play in the snow this winter, I’ll more than likely politely decline your offer, but I’m not willing to part with winter altogether here in Michigan, as I love the scenic beauty this state provides.

So the next time you see me bundled up on a 40-degree day that you may think is more than manageable, now you know why!

  1. Erin A says
    01 Oct 12 at 7:36pm

    Wow! I have dealt with the same condition since 2005, and I thought it was crazy! It’s been 7 years, and I still have the reactions and they are NOT fun! I live in Georgia, and you would think it would be better down here. It is not. I have to bundle up when the weather is below 70, and if there is any wind or a strong breeze it’s higher. I wear jeans in the late spring, and people look at me like I’m crazy. I feel your pain!

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