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You could be allergic to the cold

HealthBy Sunday World
You could be allergic to the cold

It's reached that time of year when you can see your breath in the air and the pavements are icy - yep, winter is well and truly in full swing. With the drop in temperature comes colds, flu and extra strain on conditions like arthritis, asthma and circulation problems. But what if the reason you're feeling ill was down to the weather itself?

Many people may not realise they are actually allergic to the cold, with symptoms including sneezing, watery eyes, headaches and even rashes. It's similar to what hay fever sufferers may experience and while it may sound made up, GP insists people can be diagnosed with this "extremely rare" illness.

"Like any allergy, a reaction to the cold is brought on by mast cells [a type of white blood cell] in the body releasing the chemical histamine as a result of a trigger. This can cause allergic reactions such as rashes, watery eyes and sneezing," she told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper.

But how to go about identifying your diagnosis? While Helen points out it's easy to detect whether people are allergic to animals or pollen, it's hard to understand what's going on in the body when it comes to the cold.

As experts try and figure out how to make a diagnosis, she has shared some tips on how to help ease the problem.

"Strong antihistamines can usually help alleviate the symptoms," she recommended. "These are relatively safe medicines with few side-effects. In some cases you might need to carry an EpiPen loaded with adrenaline to help with a severe allergic reaction."

Dressing up warm and not staying outside for too long can also help keep this from being an issue. When the temperature plummets, make sure you have a hat, scarf and gloves at hand to wrap up in, and time your journeys to and from work carefully so you're not left standing in the icy winds for ages.

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