'Standing at the bus stop made me allergic to the cold.'
Meet the man who could be killed by anything from a chilled beer to a single snowflake.
Bernard Ward has developed a bizarre allergy to the cold. His skin explodes into angry hives if he comes into contact with anything cold. He reaction can be so bad that he can even go into potentially anaphylactic shock.
Doctors believe Bernard developed this condition after standing at a bus stop in temperatures of 14 degrees Fahrenheit in Scotland last year.
Now he doesn't dare go outside in cold weather, and he even wraps up to stay warm indoors. He says he can't even go to the gym because the air conditioning could trigger a deadly reaction.
"I dread winter coming," says Bernard. "I know most people don't like the cold, but it could be deadly for me. It costs me a fortune in heating bills and thick clothes, but I have no other choice."
Even a simple night out with his friends is out of the question.
Bernard said it all happened when he went to Belfast during the winter of 2011. He said while he was at bus stop, his hands could begin to itch really bad and burn.
At first he didn't think much of it, and he just thought it would go away. But then it got worse in 2012. On a cold night in Scotland, his fingers and hands began to swell up so badly that he couldn't bend them.
In just a matter of moments, he face started burning and itching. Then he started wheezing. Bernard was covered in huge welts.
It was then that doctors diagnosed him with a severe allergy to the cold.
Bernard was suffering from cold urticaria - a type of allergy that causes the body to react badly to not only touching anything cold but also sudden drops in temperature.
Right now, there is no known cure. It can only be managed through the use of antihistamines and keeping as warm as possible.
Bernard says he gradually stopped doing everyday things. He also says having cold drinks make his throat swell, and he can't hold a cold beer.
But Bernard says he has great support from his family and friends, and he plans to marry next year.
So how do you know if you are allergic to the cold? Symptoms include reddish, itchy hives on the area of skin that was exposed to cold, swelling of hands when holding cold objects, swelling of lips when eating cold foods.
Experts don't know what causes this allergy. They only know that some people appear to have overly sensitive skin cells. They believe this could be due to an inherited trait or caused by a virus or other illness.
Sometimes this allergy goes away on it own. But it can last many years.
1430 East Victory Drive
Can't find something?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.