Man Developed Life-Threatening Allergic Reaction to Cold After Getting Out of Hot Shower

A 34-year-old man from Colorado developed a life-threatening allergic reaction to cold.

  • The case was reported in the Journal of Emergency Medicine in October.
  • Paramedics diagnosed the man with “anaphylaxis”, a life-threatening allergic reaction.
  • The man’s family found him collapsed, struggling to breathe, and covered in hives.

After stepping out of a warm shower, a 34-year-old man collapsed.

The Journal of Emergency Medicine reported and discussed the case of an unnamed man from Colorado who developed a life-threatening allergic reaction to cold when he stepped out of a hot shower. According to the paper, the man’s family had found him on the floor, struggling to breathe. The 34-year-old was covered in hives and had reportedly experienced extremely low blood pressure. Of course, the family immediately called for help and when the paramedics arrived, they diagnosed the man with “anaphylaxis”.

What is anaphylaxis?

According to the case report published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, “cold anaphylaxis is a severe form of hypersensitivity reaction to cold temperatures.” The report further explained that when the man arrived at the emergency department, he had been “admitted to the intensive care unit for anaphylaxis monitoring and was found to have a positive ice cube test.” An ice cube test involves placing an ice cube on the patient’s skin for around 5 minutes to see if they develop hives. If hives appear (as they did with the Colorado man), the patient is allergic to cold.

The man was discharged from the hospital and was told that he would have to make certain lifestyle changes. 

After being treated with antihistamine and steroids at the hospital, his condition improved. Before being discharged, the man was prescribed antihistamine and an epinephrine auto-injector. Furthermore, he was told that he would have to avoid exposure to cold temperatures and that he would now have to find ways of being warm at all times. People with cold urticaria or anaphylaxis generally use lotions which preserve body heat and other such methods to ensure that they remain warm.

The cause and prevalence of this life-threatening allergy is not known.

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