Cold agglutinin disease (CAD) is a rare autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks red blood cells (RBCs) when exposed to cold temperatures. CAD can severely restrict the daily life activities of people with the disease. However, lifestyle changes can make a big difference, and help patients overcome disease symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, and joint pain.

Lifestyle changes include managing exposure to cold, maintaining good hygiene, avoiding infections, and taking precautions during hospital visits.

Management of cold exposure

People with CAD can reduce their cold exposure by taking the following precautions:

  • Wearing gloves or mittens when taking food out of the refrigerator or freezer
  • Wearing a hat, scarf, and a coat with snug cuffs during cold weather
  • Turning down air conditioning or dressing warmly while in an air-conditioned space
  • Warming up the car before driving in cold weather
  • Avoiding cold rooms, and drinking cold water or other cold liquids
  • Using space heaters to keep the room temperature at adequate levels
  • Moving to warmer climates during winters whenever possible

Hygiene and avoiding infections

Good hygiene and avoiding getting infections are critical for people with CAD. This can be achieved by taking the following precautions:

  • Avoiding contact with sick people and avoiding crowded places
  • Eating well-cooked food and avoiding unhygienic eating places
  • Washing hands often
  • Brushing and flossing teeth regularly and getting regular dental care to avoid infections
  • Getting vaccinations only following consultation with the doctor, after discussing the risks involved. In general, inoculation with live vaccines needs to be avoided.

Precautions during hospital visits and medical procedures

Several points need to be considered when individuals with CAD are hospitalized for severe anemia or for other medical procedures. These include:

  • Avoiding cold conditions during hospitalization and surgery
  • Ensuring that intravenous (into the vein) solutions and blood products are warmed before use
  • Using space heaters and blankets
  • Drinking water and fluids that are prewarmed
  • Promptly treating fever and infections

 

Last updated: August 15, 2019

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Cold Agglutinin Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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Özge has a MSc. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Leicester and a PhD in Developmental Biology from Queen Mary University of London. She worked as a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Leicester for six years in the field of Behavioural Neurology before moving into science communication. She worked as the Research Communication Officer at a London based charity for almost two years.