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Mechanicsburg teen battles cold weather allergy - abc27 WHTM

Mechanicsburg teen battles cold weather allergy

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MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

It's no secret that it's been a brutally cold winter so far, but for a Cumberland County teen suffering from a cold allergy, it's downright dangerous.

Kayla Herrera, 14, of Mechanicsburg was diagnosed two years ago with cold-induced urticaria.

That means when the temperatures drop below 50 degrees, Kayla is at risk.

"People are like 'Really? I've never heard of it'," said Kayla's mother, Jessica Heller. "Well, we'd never heard of it either."

Kayla was diagnosed by allergists at Penn State Hershey Medical Center after a 30-minute swim in Laurel Lake on her 13th birthday almost killed her.

"Within five minutes of leaving the lake, I started having hives, I passed out, I wasn't processing oxygen right and I had a seizure," she said.

Now on four different allergy drugs, and forced to carry an Epipen, Kayla's no longer allowed in the water, she avoids eating popsicles and ice cream cones, and most importantly, she can't spend prolonged amounts of time outside, especially during a winter like this.

"One of the first things that happens is my fingers and toes will swell up," she said.

Heller said she wishes other parents would remember conditions like Kayla's when school is delayed.

"These temperatures -- we're not used to and we're not supposed to be able to sustain them," Heller said. "I understand it throws a wrench in the work schedule, but there are kids like Kay who really can't stand out and I'd rather have her miss two hours than have to miss a whole day."

Heller said her daughter can experience symptoms all year long; air conditioning is a huge concern in the summer. She said that's one of the reasons she has never moved her family to a warmer state.

"Our whole support system is here, so why move to a place where we don't know anyone if she's still going to experience the same symptoms," she said.

Medical experts said cold-induced urticaria is relatively rare, and most cases have no known cause.

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