I’m sure we’ve all felt allergic to winter at some point, wanting to stay wrapped up and under the covers rather than face the day.
And while many of us moan and groan about getting up and going to work – often while it’s still dark outside and in freezing temperatures – not many of us are physically allergic to the weather.
Arianna Kent, a 21-year-old from Canada, however, suffers from such a condition.
Called cold-induced urticaria, the condition sees sufferers break out in hives if they’re exposed to cold temperatures. Even a cool breeze or a cold shower can bring it on.
The autoimmune disease causes itchy hives to appear on the skin, and in some cases, like Arianna, there’s even a risk of going into anaphylactic shock.
Arianna first felt the symptoms of the conditions while she was shovelling snow, aged 14, and now has to stay indoors on the coldest days.
I can feel it in my throat if I’m drinking something cold, it feels tight and tense, it’s the same if I eat ice cream.
Some people are sceptical, however, and don’t believe Arianna’s allergy even exists.
Some professionals have no idea and look at me like I’m crazy.
You can watch Arianna talking about her condition here:
Talking about the condition and how the hives appear, Arianna said:
It’s a slow process, starting as small pin-sized hives on my arm that get bigger and begin to become raised. At their largest my whole body can look like a whole swollen welt.
It causes my skin to burn and itch, for my throat it’s like asthma where you are wheezing harder and find it difficult to breathe.
It’s like something is sitting on your chest making it feel tighter and heavier. I can go into full blown anaphylactic shock, so I have to carry an Epipen.
It’s terrifying knowing that if I’m in an area without access to medical help and my throat closes up I could be at serious risk.
Arianna even has to avoid foods which contain histamine, such as cheese, yoghurt, pickles, pineapples and fermented foods.
When asked why she doesn’t move to a warmer country, Arianna says even cold air conditioning or going for a walk on a windy day can trigger her symptoms.
According to ABC News, the rare condition affects around one in 100,000 people.
Dr. Bill Lanting, from the Asthma and Allergy Center, said:
You have these mast cells, or allergy cells that are found mainly in the skin, and are set off by allergens like food, medications and stinging insects.
Exposure to cold or literally holding a coke can or ice cube can set off the mast cell, so if you’re exposed to cold at a certain temperature, you can get hives.
Hives you can deal with using Benadryl, but if it’s severe enough it can cause throat swelling and breathing problems.
At the moment there’s no definitive cure for sufferers of cold urticaria, though taking a strong antihistamine everyday can help reduce symptoms.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.