5th Grader Has the Strangest Allergy You've Ever Heard Of

I've heard of kids being allergic to peanuts, eggs, shellfish, wheat, pollen, pet dander, and perfume. I even recently learned of one young man's heartbreaking allergy to milk that's so severe he's been hospitalized several times just for exposure, since he can't even be in the same room as someone eating a pizza.

I have to say, though, I'd never previously heard of a child being allergic to a temperature—until I read about 11-year-old Grant Schlager's bizarre allergy to the cold. The worst part of his strange and potentially scary situation? The poor kid lives in Minnesota.

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Grant Schlager is nearly 12 years old, but he doesn't get to spend hours running and playing in the snow like his fellow 5th graders do. He has an unusual condition called cold urticaria, which basically means he's allergic to the cold. Being exposed to chilly temperatures makes him break out in hives, and could potentially cause more serious reactions if a reaction gets out of control.

If you're thinking this sounds too weird to be true, Grant's mother felt the exact same way. When he was diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, his mom initially couldn't believe her ears:

I had never heard of it and I was skeptical. How can anybody be allergic to cold?

When Grant is outside, his parents check him for hives every 15 minutes, and he goes in if he starts breaking out or feeling itchy. He takes a twice-daily antihistamine, keeps an EpiPen on hand, and he watches his exposure. According to Grant, he even has to be careful when he has a drink:

I can't chug a cold glass of water or anything but I can take little sips and stuff.

Hives are uncomfortable, but the real concern is that his allergy could flare up into something worse. In one tragic case of a toddler with cold urticaria, the child suffered anaphylaxis after jumping in a cold wading pool on a warm day, and now has permanent brain damage. That is an extremely rare possibility—but as any parent knows, it's better to be safe than sorry.

It seems particularly unlucky that Grant lives in Minnesota, which gets downright frigid during the winter, but his allergy could be triggered in any climate. Wherever there are fluctuations in temperature, Grant runs the risk of having an allergic reaction:

You don't know when it's gonna come. It can be a hot day outside and it's air conditioned and I come into a cold room and just get bumps.

Man, what a crappy deal for this kid. Obviously things could be worse, as Grant seems to live a fairly typical lifestyle, has a good attitude about it ("I could be allergic to air"), and mainly just has to take extra care, like any child with an allergy, but this one's so unusual and hard to explain it makes you feel for him. This is the kind of story that reminds me to be thankful for my kids' good health, and have more empathy for families struggling with conditions that aren't always visible or easily understood.

The potential good news about Grant's condition is that like some other allergies, his cold urticaria may not be lasting. Grant could one day grow out of it, and for his sake, I sure hope that's what happens.


Have you ever heard of this allergy before?


Image via NBC

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