What are Cold Allergies?
A cold allergy is a skin reaction that appears a few minutes after cold exposure. People with cold allergies may develop a red, itchy rash.
Symptoms of a cold allergy vary widely. Some have mild reactions to the cold, but some have more severe reactions. If a person with a cold allergy swims in cold water, it can cause very low blood pressure, fainting, or shock reactions.
Cold allergies commonly affect young adults. The easiest way to avoid cold allergies is to avoid bathing in cold water or drinking cold water.
Although similar, cold and flu allergies are different. Flu can occur when the virus enters your body. When the virus enters your body, your immune system will fight against the virus.
The virus that causes the flu can be transmitted to others. You can contract the flu virus if an infected person sneezes, coughs, or shakes hands with you. If you experience flu symptoms, your immune system will attack the virus.
Cold allergies occur because your immune system overreacts. In people with allergies, the body identifies harmless components (such as dust or pollen) as something harmful. The body will attack this component and release histamine – similar to when the body’s immune system attacks the flu virus. This can cause swelling of the respiratory tract. You will start coughing or sneezing. Allergies are not as contagious as the flu.
Flu usually lasts for 3-14 days. It may last longer if you continue to be close around infected people. If you continue to feel symptoms, it is a good idea to consult your doctor. Cold allergies can occur at any time if you are exposed to the cause of the allergy.
Causes of Cold Allergies
Cold allergies can be caused by the following factors:
- Cold weather
- Swimming or bathing in cold water
- Air-conditioned rooms or cold rooms, such as walk-in freezers
The temperature that can trigger a cold allergic reaction is usually below four degrees celsius.
The exact cause of cold allergies is unknown. Some people have very sensitive skin cells due to genetic factors, viruses, or other diseases. In general, cold temperatures trigger the release of histamine (a chemical produced by the body’s cells when experiencing an allergic reaction) and other chemicals in the bloodstream. These chemicals cause redness, itching, and sometimes allergic reactions in all parts of your body.
When to See a Doctor for Cold Allergies
If you consult your doctor immediately after experiencing allergy symptoms, it can help your doctor analyse your symptoms more clearly as there may be several diseases that have the same symptoms. If you develop severe symptoms, seek medical help immediately.
Be sure to discuss the symptoms you are experiencing and your history of illness during your consultation. Your doctor may also perform tests on your skin, for example by laying plastic-wrapped ice cubes to see how your body reacts to the cold.
This test may be performed to check if you have a cold allergy due to genetic factors. In this case, your skin may not react directly to the test. It takes about 20-30 minutes for your body to react.
In some cases, your doctor may also perform a blood test to determine or eliminate the underlying cause of the symptoms you are experiencing.
Symptoms of Cold Allergies
Possible symptoms of cold allergy may include:
- Exposed skin to cold weather will develop a red, itchy rash temporarily
- Burning sensation as body temperature rises
- Swollen hands
- Swollen lips when consuming cold foods or drinks
- Watery and itchy eyes
- Headaches and nausea
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion or constant runny nose
As for symptoms where you need immediate medical treatment, these include:
- Anaphylactic shock that can cause fainting, pounding heart, swollen hands, feet, or torso
- Swollen lips and sore throat that can cause difficulty breathing
- Extremely low blood pressure
The symptoms of cold allergy may vary from person to person. In some cases, symptoms can appear in just 2-5 minutes or even 1-2 hours after the skin is exposed to colds. The allergic reaction can gradually disappear until two days after.
There are several factors that increase the risk of cold allergies. Cold allergies are common in young adults. Some people with cold allergies can experience significant progression of symptoms or stop experiencing cold allergies within six years.
Cold allergies can occur due to genetic factors. However, symptoms can be triggered by some specific diseases,such as:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Contagious infections that can cause mononucleosis
- Hepatitis infection
- Other diseases related to blood
There are several diseases that can be misinterpreted as cold allergies, such as:
Chilblains are inflammation of the blood vessels around the toe when exposed to the cold.
- Raynaud’s Disease
Raynaud’s syndrome is caused by a lack of blood flow to the fingers or toes.
- Cold Agglutinin
In cases of Cold Agglutinin, your body attacks red blood cells in response to below-normal blood temperatures.
- Paroxysmal Cold Hemoglobinuria
This type of anemia is rare. The antibodies attack and kill healthy red blood cells. This condition falls into the category of autoimmune diseases.
Treatment for Cold Allergies
Cold allergies can slowly resolve on their own after a while. However, if you are uncomfortable with the allergic reaction, you can take medications according to your doctor’s prescription. Cold allergy medications can be consumed to overcome allergic reactions as well as to prevent allergic reactions.
Commonly used medications are antihistamine medications, such as cetirizine, loratadine, or desloratadine.
If antihistamine medications cannot help with your allergic reactions, you can take H2 antagonist medications, such as ranitidine, famotidine, and cimetidine.
In addition to these two types of medications, other medications may include:
- Capsaicin cream
- Leukotriene receptor agonists, such as zafirlukast and monteluklast
Treatment Cost for Cold Allergies
Treatment cost for cold allergy varies depending on the hospital chosen, the type and quantity of medications given, and the severity of the allergic reaction. To find out the estimated treatment cost for cold allergy, hospital recommendations, and making appointments with a doctor, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Cold Allergies
If you have a cold allergy, below are some ways that can help avoid the onset of allergic reactions:
- Take antihistamine medications before being exposed to cold areas
- Take medications that have been prescribed by your doctor
- Protect your skin from exposure to the cold
- Protect your skin from sudden temperature changes. When you’re about to swim, test your hands in the water first to see if your skin reacts to the water
- If your doctor prescribes epinephrine injections (such as EpiPen, Auvi-Q, and so on), always bring epinephrine to prevent critical reactions
- If you are going to have surgery in the near future, let your healthcare team know about your allergies. This is done to provide additional measures to avoid the onset of cold allergies in the operating room
Home Remedies for Cold Allergies
The following are several home care treatments for cold allergy, including:
- Keep your body warm. Avoid cold air temperatures as much as you can
- Avoid things that can trigger the onset of allergic reactions.
- Consume antihistamines to help relieve allergic reactions.
- Always prepare epinephrine injections near you, but be sure you have your doctor’s permission.