A woman with an allergy to the cold is forced to keep her heating on 24/7 – and has admitted she’ll soon be ‘too scared’ to check her energy bills due to enormous price hikes.
Sam Newland, 50, keeps her house at a constant 30 degrees throughout autumn and winter – and sometimes during chilly summer months too, but it is predicted that during 2022 energy bills in the UK could rise by over 50 percent. Sam, who uses So Energy for her heating her, has suffered from cold urticaria since she moved back to the UK from Singapore when she was just 13.
Doctors initially had no idea why she was developing rashes and welts and it took two years for them to diagnose the cause as an allergy to cold temperatures.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for cold urticaria, and Sam is only able to manage her condition with antihistamine while trying to keep her body at a warm temperature.
Sam, a PA, from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, explained: ”All I can do is keep the house warm, but not too warm, and make sure I’ve got my medication on me all the time.
”If I start running out of the antihistamine I can get really stressed and tearful.
”On top of that I’m now really worried about how we’re going to afford a huge increase in bills each month.
”I dread to think what our heating bills are going to jump up to now.
”We were paying £48 a month but I’ve spoken to our provider and they’re now asking us to pay £80.
”They’ve even warned there’s a possibility it could rise to £160 a month.
”My husband deals with most of the utility admin and he’s said that we might have to light a fire and work from the living room.
”I’ve been desperate to get over to Tenerife to scatter my mum and step-dad’s ashes, as it was their final wish but I’m now worrying we might have to make serious cut backs and might not be able to afford to go.”
Alongside worrying about rising bills, Sam also has to keep a constant eye on her temperature.
”People often don’t take my condition seriously, they tell me to stop itching or to put a jumper on,” she said.
”It makes me want to scream in frustration because it’s really not that simple.
”It’s a horrible condition. I hate being allergic to the cold.
”If I have a flare up it’s so painful, it’s so itchy I’ve made myself bleed before.”
After being diagnosed in her teens, Sam – who has flare ups every few days – set about trying to find treatments to help her condition.
Symptoms – including itching all over and ‘huge red spots’ – can be triggered by all sorts of cold weather, including damp or humid days and even just sitting on a brick wall.
Since diagnosis she has tried multiple antihistamine brands – settling on a supermarket own brand of Benadryl in her early 20s.
For other sufferers she recommends trying a variety of antihistamines to find what works for them.
”Nothing else works,” she said.
”I have to take three now, which is two more than you’re meant to take in a day, but they don’t touch the sides otherwise.
”They take up to an hour to kick in.
”The other thing that can really help is having a warm bath but of course that’s not always practical.
”It’s been fine since we’ve all been in lockdown and working from home but not in normal life.
”It’s also not great for the water bills either.”
Sam, who lives with husband, Andy, 60, a print finisher, predicts that her heating bills will double in the coming months – a situation she describes as ‘terrifying’.
She said: ”I’ve been told before that I should just move abroad but I can’t afford to retire yet and why should I uproot our whole lives?
”People often say I should just wear lots of layers, but I have to be careful not to get clammy or sweaty as that can trigger it too.
”I really want people to understand how debilitating and painful living with this is.
”Hopefully, they’ll have a bit more compassion if they meet someone with it and not say the wrong thing – which happens all the time.”
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