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Medical Definitions Dealing with Cold Allergies.

Adverse Reaction
An unexpected, unpleasant and at times a dangerous reaction not caused by the immune system.


There is a great misunderstanding in what is or is not an allergy.  The word is used loosely by lay people as well as medical professionals. Most adverse reactions are often recorded as an allergy in medical literature.

Reactions with an immunologic basis are true allergies.

Anaphylaxis (Anaphylactic, Anaphylactoid)
Anaphylaxis is a severe, whole-body allergic reaction.  Anaphylaxis happens quickly after  exposure to an allergen. The condition is severe and leads to death.

Tissues in different parts of the body release histamine and other immune related substances. This causes the airways to tighten and leads to other symptoms including those of Shock.

Some non-immunologic triggers may cause an anaphylactic-like reaction (anaphylactoid reaction) when people are first exposed to them. These reactions are not the same as the immune system response that occurs with true anaphylaxis. But, the symptoms, risk of complications, and treatment are the same for both types of reactions.

Antibodies (Auto Antibodies)
Antibodies are proteins in the blood produced in response to counteract specific antigens. Antibodies combine chemically with substances that the body recognizes as alien, such as bacteria, viruses, and foreign substances in the blood. The proteins include Immunoglobulins A, D, E, G, M, etc.

Auto Antibodies are any antibody produced by an organism against one of its ownself.  This would include Anti IgA, Anti IgD, Anti IgE, Anti IgG, Anti IgM.

Antigens are substances that adhere to red blood cells and induces the formation of antibodies that the immune system sees as a threat. Typically, antigens are substances not usually found in the body.  See video.

Pain in a joint.

Not adhering to the expected.

Autosomal Dominant
A trait or disorder genetically passed from one generation to the next when only one allele is required to pass along the defect.

A process to remove and examine tissue from the body to determine diagnosis.

Chronic means lasting longer than six weeks.  It can refer to either the condition or a specific reaction resulting from the condition.

Clonal (Mono & Poly)
Cell cloning that occurs, for example, when B cells, under the influence of T cell interleukins, differentiate into two separate populations and, after several transformations produce sensitized B lymphocytes and plasma cells.

Mono pertains to a protein from a single clone of cells, all molecules of which are the same.

Poly pertains to proteins (that is, antibodies) from more than a single clone of cells.

Confined to a limited area;  well defined from the surrounding area.

Cold Stimulation Time Test
Diagnostic test performed to determine if a person has Cold Urticaria where ice is applied to the forearm for five minutes and monitored for upto ten minutes following removal. A positive test will show a reaction with wheals and welts either during application or while rewarming. A negative test is not always accurate. False positives do accure with various forms of Cold Urticaria.

Complement Activation
The sequential activation of serum COMPLEMENT PROTEINS to create the COMPLEMENT MEMBRANE ATTACK COMPLEX. Factors initiating complement activation include ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY COMPLEXES, microbial ANTIGENS, or cell surface POLYSACCHARIDES.

Involving the Skin.

Darier Sign
Activating urtication on stroking of cutaneouslesions of urticaria pigmentosa (mastocytosis).

A release of the contents of Mast Cells which aids in identifying and removing of allergens.  These contents include: Tryptase, histamine, Serotonin and heparin.  Mast Cells in the blood include Heparin which acts as an anti-coagulant.

A disorder of structure or function that produces specific signs or symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury.

Erythema (Erythematous)
Redness of the skin caused by dilatation and congestion of the capillaries, often a sign of inflammation or infection.

Edema (Edematous)
A condition characterized by an excess of watery fluid collecting in the cavities or tissues of the body.

Evaporative Cooling
A reduction in temperature resulting from the evaporation of moisture from the skin, which removes latent heat from the surface where evaporation takes place.

Genetically passed from one generation to the next.

Widespread. A reaction that can affect not just the area making contact with exposed surface. Systemic reactions always involve generalized reactions, but not all generalized reactions lead to systemic reactions.

The destruction or rupture of red blood cells.

Characteristic or disease determined by genetic factors and therefore able to be passed on from parents to their offspring or descendants.

Found in all body tissues, particularly in the mast cells and their related blood basophils. It has several functions, including dilation of capillaries, which increases capillary permeability and results in a drop of blood pressure, contraction of most smooth muscle tissue, including bronchial smooth muscle of the lung, induction of increased gastric secretion, and acceleration of the heart rate. Cellular receptors of histamine include three types: the H1 receptors mediate the contraction of smooth muscle and the effects of capillaries; the H2 receptors mediate the acceleration of heart rate and the promotion of gastric acid secretion. Both H1 and H2 receptors mediate the contraction of vascular smooth muscle. H3 receptors occur in a number of systems including the central nervous system and peripheral nerves, and are believed to play a role in regulation of the release of histamine and other neurotransmitters from neurons.

Recognized by a raised,  (usually) itchy area of skin that may be a sign of an allergic or psudo-allergic reaction. It can be rounded or flat-topped but is always elevated above the surrounding skin. It reflects circumscribed dermal edema (local swelling of the skin). The hives are usually well circumscribed but may be coalescent and will blanch with pressure. A single spot is almost always gone by 24 hours but the process may stay for weeks to months.

Any disease or condition that arises spontaneously or for which the cause is unknown.

Within the blood vessels or lymphatics.

A spot.

At the site of exposure.

Mast Cell
Mast Cells are filled with basophil granules, found in numbers in connective tissue and release histamine and other substances during inflammatory and allergic reactions.

Mast Cell Activation

A new and abnormal growth of tissue in some part of the body.


Any of a group of substances that are released on excitation of a presynaptic neuron of the central or peripheral nervous system and travel across the synaptic cleft to either excite or inhibit the target cell. Among the many substances that have the properties of a neurotransmitter are acetylcholine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine, glycine, GABA, glutamic acid, substance P, enkephalins, endorphins, and serotonin. Histamine can also serve as a neurotransmitter.

The blocking or closing of a blood vessel.
The process in the development of a disease.

Around or near a blood vessel.

No secondary cause.

The expected course of a disorder.

The term prophylaxis refers to measures taken in order to prevent disease or health problems, rather than to treat or cure an existing condition. Such measures, sometimes known as preventative care, may also be used to stem an outbreak or minimize the symptoms of someone who has been exposed to an infectious agent or health hazard.


Pseudo-allergies produce a direct release of mediators from cells such as mast cells and basophils. Allergens are not involved in the process of mast cell degranulation and are thus considered pseudo-allergies.

A disorder that is the direct result of another disorder. When the primary disorder is treated, the secondary disorder is no longer an issue.

A syndrome is a constellation of symptoms that occur together or co-vary over time

a rash of round, red welts on the skin that itch intensely, sometimes with dangerous swelling, caused by an allergic reaction.

A ridge or lump raised on the body (as by a blow or an allergic reaction)

A suddenly formed red area of skin surface; it usually itches and have a burning sensation for some.

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Nuggets of Wisdom

Yes, there is such a thing as having an allergic type reaction to temperatures. This is defined as a physical urticaria. Other physical urticarias include Solar, Aquagenic, Pressure, Vibration and Exercise.

Most reactions are pseudo-allergic. By definition, an allergy involves inhaling or consuming an allergen. Physical urticarias have no known allergen. Despite the terminology and medical definitions, systemic reactions can be life threatening.

Cold has an arbitrary definition based on an individual feeling. For a person with a cold urticaria, cold can be defined as any temperature cooler than their own body temperature.

You do not have to be cold to have a reaction to the cold; contact with cold can trigger a reaction.

You can have an allergic type reaction to both cold and heat simultaneously.

Most reactions considered anaphylactic are really anaphylactoid by definition.

Moving to a warmer climate as a treatment for Cold Urticaria is a myth. Warmer climates present their own issues for those with Cold Urticaria.

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