Grant Schlager, Minnesota boy, is allergic to cold weather

Categories: Health
Grant Schlager.jpg
Alison Stumpf Photography
Grant Schlager, left, is allergic to cold. His brother is not.
It's official -- people these days have allergies to everything.

The latest example is little 11-year-old Grant Schlager of Austin, Minnesota. When Grant exposes his body to cold temperatures, he breaks out in hives. Swimming in cold water is basically a no-go. Even the simple pleasure of an icy soda is fraught with danger.

His mother, understandably, wasn't sure what to make of Grant's symptoms, and eventually brought him to the Mayo Clinic. There, he was diagnosed with cold urticaria -- the perfect allergy for those looking for a rock-solid reason to flee Minnesota winters.

Here's what the Mayo Clinic staff has to say about cold urticaria:
MayoClinic.JPG
For doctors at the Mayo, there's nothing mysterious or funny about being allergic to the cold.
Cold urticaria (ur-tih-KAR-e-uh) is an allergy to cold temperatures. With cold urticaria, exposure to cold temperatures causes redness, itching, swelling and hives on the skin that has been in contact with the cold. As much as possible, people with cold urticaria should avoid exposure to cold air and cold water. For example, swimming in cold water is the most common cause of a severe, whole-body reaction -- leading to fainting, shock and even death.
Cold urticaria can be serious business. For instance, Martha Hartz, a pediatric allergist and immunologist at Mayo, told the USA Today that she knows of a toddler with cold urticaria who jumped in a cold wading pool on a warm day. The toddler suffered anaphylaxis -- a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction -- and now has permanent brain damage.

Grant doesn't have it quite so bad. When he goes outside to play in the cold, his parents check him after about 15 minutes for hives. If he's breaking out or feeling itchy, he has to go inside and warm up. He takes a twice-daily antihistamine and stays close to an EpiPen.

According to a recent MSNBC report, researchers at the National Institutes of Health have identified a genetic mutation that causes not only cold urticaria, but also other symptoms including immune deficiency and autoimmunity and inflammatory skin disorders.

In other words, some people just don't have the genetic makeup to endure Minnesota winters. Perhaps you should consider yourself lucky.

If you think you might be afflicted with cold urticaria, there's a test -- simply put an ice cube on your skin, wait a few minutes for it to start melting, and then remove it. If you break out in hives, you might have cold urticaria, though doctors warm that some sufferers have strong reactions to cold on particular parts of the body but not others.

Makes you wonder how our pre-modern-medicine ancestors ever managed to live to ripe old ages, doesn't it?
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12 comments
lanalynch100
lanalynch100

I have never heard of an allergy to cold! What aren't people allergic to these days? I wonder if they have thought of seeing an allergy immunologist? I've heard that they can really help allergy sufferers. Something for the family to think about I guess.


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bryanflake1984
bryanflake1984

I wonder if there are any allergy specialist for this in Naperville, IL?

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Paul
Paul

I don't know how this may apply as I have lived in MN my whole life but when my parents got a salt water aquarium both my father and myself developed allergies seemingly out of no where.  I have one to shellfish which seems to have gone away and my dad's was too for a short period of time.  I almost believe the fact that I exposed myself to anemones(sea animals) and other such aquarium stuff that I activated this condition.  

Guest
Guest

His parents should consider moving if it's so bad that he can't have a normal life.  If they don't, then this kid will have to wait until he is 18.

msfood
msfood

I am 52 years old and have suffered from this since I was a young girl.  Thought it was due to the fact I was frost bit while sledding as a little girl.  Until a bad reaction in my 40's and sought the help of an allergest that specializes in Cold Uticaria, I realized it was a legitimate allergy.  Even doctors look at me like I'm crazy if I say I am allergic to cold.  Can even happen when going from cold building to a warm car.  It has gotten worse as I get older and now I have to use a handicap sticker so I can get as close to the building as I can in the cold winter and hot summer.  My heart goes out to this family.  I can so understand!!  Best of luck as you deal with this!!

Michelleknight Mk
Michelleknight Mk

We thought my allergy to cold all started from a seizure I had in third grade followed with a bunch of crazy medications. Wasn't until recently that I found out about this condition by Google. Very painful and embarrassing condition. I also have been diagnosed with hypo thyroid and just recently was diagnosed with lymes disease, rare form not found in the states. Imagine that! I swear all of it is linked together. Maybe one day they can find out more. Atleast I know I am not alone!

Samuraidrive
Samuraidrive

Apparently this manifests mostly in your 20's. If I hold cold things against my forearm I break out. On a particularly cold and and windy day the inside of my thighs itch like crazy and break out in hives. And you're right, miogirl - people think you're nuts, but it's a scientific fact!

Peggy
Peggy

I am 48 years old and suffered with this throughout most of my childhood and youth. It was never diagnosed by my doctors and I would always kiddingly say that I was allergic to cold weather...and of course, no one believed me. I would have itchy hives all over my body and I was miserable in the cold Chicago winters as a kid. It was definitely embarassing.  In highschool I went to see a doctor once again and was given a cortisone shot.  I never experienced the hives again!  I am not sure how or why that worked for me.  I will experience some minor itching to this day, but not the hives, and not the intensity.

I am just now, for the first time, learning that this is an actual condition that others suffer with. It is nice to know that...although I am sad that others have to deal with this. 

mntwinsfan88
mntwinsfan88

He's from Jackson, MN, not Austin... may want to change your story.

miogirl
miogirl

This condition sucks for people who have it and is completely embarrassing.  A. No one believes you when you say, "I'm allergic to the cold." and  B. They just assume you're mental or a wuss.  My best friend has a mild version of it and it is just awful.

Research
Research

That kid's leaving mn on 18th bday.

Michelleknight Mk
Michelleknight Mk

My work actually did not believe me until a recent fire drill. We live in Florida but it was just cold enough for 10 mins out in the cold air and I was itching and red as a strawberry. My boss and co workers were at a loss for words!

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