‘My son is allergic to the cold – I’m terrified his walk to school could kill him’

The parents of a teenager who is severely allergic to the cold are ‘terrified’ that he could die on the way to school, and have no choice but to keep the heating on all the time

His parents drive him to school every single day, fearful that walking there alone would be too dangerous

A mum has shared how her teenage son is so allergic to the cold that they have no choice but to blast the heating all day long to keep him safe, and drive him to school rather than risk letting him walk.

Calum Courtney, 14, has a condition known as cold urticaria, which means he can’t be outside for more than 15 minutes without getting itchy, red rashes.

His allergy is so severe that he breaks out in hives if the temperature drops lower than 24 degrees or if one of his limbs is left dangling out of his bedcovers at night.

His parents, Tupney Courtney and David Courtney, both 38, are worried that Calum’s allergy could result in him going into anaphylactic shock, so they drive him right up to the school gates every morning while making sure he always wears a tracksuit.

Calum can’t be outside for more than 15 minutes without breaking into a rash


Kennedy News and Media)

His parents fear he could go into anaphylactic shock


Kennedy News and Media)

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According to Tupney, an anaphylactic shock, whereby a person’s blood pressure suddenly drops and their airways narrow, preventing breathing, could prove deadly for Calum given that he hasn’t been prescribed an epi-pen.

As a result of his condition, Calum has sadly had to miss out on activities such as ice skating and swimming and even had to give up playing football after he was first diagnosed ten years ago.

Tupney, of Basildon, Essex, said: “As a teenager, it affects everything, he can’t play out or play sports. He had to stop playing football because his whole face swells up.

“He can’t be outside for long if it’s cold. He goes out and has to keep coming back in. He always gets really hot because we have to wrap his skin up.

“He used to really get upset because he really wanted to play football. As a young boy, playing football puts you in the group of kids that everyone wants to talk to. He breaks out on whatever part of the body is cold. At first , it’s the parts of the body that aren’t clothed like his face and hands.

“If he’s out long enough, it’s everywhere even with three layers of clothes. It starts off like little red dots, it looks like chickenpox then they get bigger and join together. They’re so uncomfortable. He said it feels pinchy, prick feeling , like stinging nettles then it gets really itchy.”

Calum had to give up playing football because of his condition


Kennedy News and Media)

The mum-of-two continued: “If he’s in water that’s too cold, he goes bright red and says it feels like it’s burning. That’s a different feeling and he comes over unwell like he’s going to pass out.

“I think that’s the early stages of anaphylactic shock. You have to really warm him up and try and get him warm from the inside with hot drinks.

“You have to think of everything. If he hurts himself, he can’t have a cold compress. He banged his hand at school and they said he needed to go to the hospital because his hand had doubled in size but when I got there , he had a cold compress on it so as soon as I warmed it up, it went down.

“You don’t know what reaction he could have, he could have anaphylactic shock, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility even though he hasn’t, it could happen at any point.”

Calum was first diagnosed at the age of just four years old after he broke out in hives while at a family wedding. His frightened parents of him initially believed he had a pollen allergy and treated him with anti-histamines, but soon realized something more was going on.

His family now want to raise awareness of the condition


Kennedy News and Media)

Calum’s parents are now speaking out in the hopes of finding a cold urticaria specialist. They also want to raise some much-needed awareness, with Tupney explaining that it’s often difficult to convince people that Calum’s condition is real.

Tupney admitted: “It’s a nightmare when it comes to him doing anything. If he tells people, it’s a constant battle of trying to provide it to people.

“People’s first reaction is ‘oh yes, I’m allergic to the cold too’. They think he’s saying he doesn’t like the cold. It’s so frustrating that no one believes him. He gets people saying ‘what’s on your face?’ ‘

“Most other countries have epi-pens for it. Over here it’s not the same, it’s infuriating. It’s impossible to get something to help.”

She continued: “I want to find a doctor that specializes in CU which I can’t seem to find. We find allergy doctors and dermatologists but no one specializing in that specific allergy. I want as much information as possible but no one can give it to you.

“It’s really difficult. We need help. It’s ten years of struggling, I wish we could get him a proper anti-histamine that meant he could play out without looking like he’s got a disease.

“Doctors suggest a lifestyle change to avoid the cold, ok we won’t live, we’ll stay indoors, not doing anything or going anywhere. You can’t change your life and move abroad.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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