If you thought you despised winter, meet Arianna Kent. Kent, who lives in Alberta, Canada, is actually allergic to the cold. Her allergy is so severe that she may get anaphylactic shock when she enters the winter weather for a few minutes.
Kent was 14 years old when she first had an allergic reaction. She was outside to shovel snow when she suddenly burst into the hives and had breathing problems. At first she refused it as a food allergy. After years of reactions and medical tests, she was finally diagnosed with cold urticaria (ECU). (See also: This woman published a selfie when her skin condition flared up in order to reach a strong point)
An extremely rare autoimmune disease, ECU, is a chronic reactive skin condition that flares up when the skin Body exposed to cold temperatures. ("Urticaria" is another word for hives.)
Even Kate, who is now 21 years old, can only spend five minutes outdoors before she reacts. This can happen if, for example, she holds a chilled soda can in her hand or even as she walks from her door to her car. Living in an environment where temperatures can reach as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit is no advantage to them. (See: 6 People with skin conditions share the most painful things ever done to them.)
"It's a slow process, starting with small needle sticks on my arm that are getting bigger and starting to lift," she told the Daily Mail , "At its largest, my whole body can look like a swollen world. It causes my skin to burn and itch. For my neck, it's like asthma that makes you breathe harder and breathe hard. (Related: 4 Essential Oils That May Help Your Seasonal Allergies)
Kent said she got used to it I have to go to the hospital about three times a month thanks to severe reactions. Changing her diet and reducing the intake of foods that contain histamine, a chemical that is released in the body during allergic reactions, has reduced the number of hospital stays she takes to once or twice a month.
Blown anaphylactic shock, so I have to wear an EpiPen, "said Kent. "It's scary to know that I could be seriously endangered if I'm in an area where I have no medical help and my neck is closed."
If you're wondering why Kent does not? If you move to a warmer climate, your symptoms will flicker in the summer too. "Even at 30 degrees Celsius [86 Fahrenheit] weather can trigger me a cool breeze or a dip in a pool," she said. "The air conditioning is terrible and not my friend. Even if I hold a cold drink in my hand, if I want ice cream in it, I will feel that my fingers are swollen afterwards.
When things get worse, Kent has to be careful not to get too hot. If she overheats and her body temperature drops to cool, she risks another reaction. (Related: 5 causes of hives you would not expect)
As this is so rare, there is very little information on ECUs and the lack of knowledge can be a challenge for Kent. Not many people understand their condition, making it difficult to live their everyday lives.
"People often do not believe me or know it's a real allergy. They say, "Yes, Arianna, we know you're always cold, but that does not mean you're allergic to it," she said. "Even when I was in the hospital and explaining to them that I'm allergic to a cold, some professionals have no idea and look at me as if I'm crazy."
ECU is a real condition and thanks for people like Kent we see that there is a clear need for more awareness.
This story was originally published on Health.com by Samantha Lauriello.