Hot showers are soothing, cozy, and fun but what if someone tells you that a hot shower can kill you? This sounds strange but the recently reported case of a man from Colorado has revealed this potential risk in temperature-sensitive people. This person collapsed and almost lost his life due to a severe allergic reaction which he developed by this sudden temperature change.
This 34-year man was enjoying a hot shower at home but after some time, his family spotted him on the bathroom floor, unconscious and he was immediately provided with emergency medicine. The complete case details are published in The Journal of Emergency Medicine.
What appeared from the initial examination was that this man was experiencing troubled breathing. His skin was fully covered with allergic-linked hives and all these symptoms collectively showed that he experienced anaphylaxis which is a severe allergic reaction.
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He experienced having skin hives but he never had an experience of anaphylaxis before. These symptoms showed up after he shifted to Colorado. Previously he was living in Micronesia which shares a rather temperate climate and a warm temperature. Colorado, on the other hand often has cold temperatures.
The paramedic injected him with epinephrine along with oxygen. He was immediately rushed to the hospital’s emergency department. Inside the emergency room, he was seen having fully developed hives on his body.
The doctors were able to identify his condition with ‘cold urticaria’. It is a severe allergic reaction caused by colder temperature which includes exposure to cold air or cold water. Some people can also experience this reaction after they consume cold food or beverage.
The common signs of this allergy include the appearance of red, itchy, and bumpy hives after a person gets exposed to the cold. In severe cases, it can cause anaphylaxis which changes the blood pressure and his airways swell up and becomes narrow. It makes breathing impossible and most people lose their lives at this point.
The symptoms become more intense as the full body is exposed to the cold temperature for example when people take a shower or swim. In this case, this man took a how-to shower but when he stepped outside, the colder temperature made his whole body to develop these signs of a severe allergic reaction.
His diagnosis was completed by conducting a unique ‘ice-cube test’. In this test, the doctors put an ice cube on the patient’s body for a few minutes and wait for the changes. If the rashes, bumps, or hives appear, it indicates an allergy which is named cold urticaria.
But this condition is not common and only a few people have it. A European study by the National Institutes of Health reported that it only affects 0.05% of people. But these allergies ending up at an anaphylactic reaction is extremely rare.
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Most times people don’t even know that they are allergic to cold temperature. Sometimes it is inherited to them from their parents, like other allergies. Other times, it is triggered by something which changes their immune response. These triggers could be anything from a pathogen to a disease.
When a person having this severe allergic reaction is exposed to a cold temperature, his body releases histamines as a response that start an inflammation. Most of the antiallergics are anti-histamines, which means that they control the inflammation caused by histamines, thus reliving the allergy symptoms. For emergencies, allergy patients can use an epinephrine auto-injector may prevent anaphylaxis.