#SensoryIssues: Heat & Thermoregulation

It’s currently in the mid- to high-twenties (Celsius; mid-seventies to mid-eighties Fahrenheit) here in St. John’s, and I’m… miserable. Thoroughly enervated (which does not mean what it appears to in Harry Potter; it actually means drained of energy), and occasionally sick from the heat. I’m just lucky that my bedroom and “study” are down in the “sub”-basement of the house. (Well, not just lucky; my parents are well aware of the problems that I have with heat, so it was deliberately arranged this way.) But because Mom has trouble tolerating air-conditioning, there’s none in the house. Twenty minutes or so ago, Dad informed us that the kitchen was currently 4°C hotter than it was outside.

The problem? I’m allergic to heat, and I seem to also have problems with thermoregulation, which taking the Effexor last fall made worse.

My reactions to heat? If it’s more than 16°C (60.8°F) – or 18°C (64.4°F) if it’s windy – my palms and fingers, and the inside of my arms develop a blotchy red rash, get itchy, get swollen, and then (if I don’t cool them down), I get pinpricks of pain. The same thing can happen (slower, and at a slightly higher temperature) along the inside of my legs.

I also… well, sweat like a pig, as the saying goes. Which kicks into the thermoregulation issues; when I get hot, it doesn’t matter what temperature it is in the environment (I could be bundled up for winter, outside shovelling snow or something, and I’ll still be reacting with the rash, itching, and swelling). Sweating doesn’t seem to help much, unless there’s a serious breeze going on.

In terms of medical stuff, I’ve: A) had this issue since I was a toddler or even an infant (my grandfather, who died when I was two, was the one who told my mother that I was allergic to heat); B) all thyroid and pituitary blood tests I’ve had have come out “normal” (and apparently, my thyroid blood tests fall into the “normal” range for both the US and Canada, the numbers of which happen to be different); C) I have a nodule (not biopsied) on my thyroid, found via ultrasound.

Neither my parents nor I, nor my GP, have any ideas on how to deal with this issue. My new psychiatrist would have been called by my GP on Tuesday, and I see him on the 5th, so he might (might) have some ideas. But I need a fair bit of help with this, because it’s quite debilitating.

Update Sept. 11/13: Unfortunately, my psychiatrist had no suggestions; he has no knowledge of thermoregulation issues. *sighs*

Does anyone have any suggestions?


😉 tagAught

8 thoughts on “#SensoryIssues: Heat & Thermoregulation

  1. Vathara

    Staying well-hydrated seems to help me deal with heat. I have to admit though that I’ve never had problems that serious. Heat can be exhausting, but I usually only have real problems when I’m trying to sleep and it’s too hot to have more than a sheet over me.

  2. Ine

    Not entirely sure what it could be, except that you seem to have a more severe version of what I have. With me, the itchiness and swelling is more localised and it seems to be highly linked to heat combined with moisture. In other words, I get it from sweating AND from hot baths/showers. It’s a bit like hives I think, only it’s not stress related at all. And sometimes it’s just bumps and sometimes my entire skin swells up.

    I just looked allergic reaction to heat, by the way, and the first page I found described something known as “cholinergic urticaria”. At the end it mentioned that some people might be allergic to their own sweat. If that’s the case, it might explain why you get it on your hands first. http://allergies.about.com/od/urticariahives/a/cholinergic.htm

    Hope this helps!

    1. tagÂûght

      Hey, Ine! I know, I know, this reply is like three years past due….

      I (finally) did some research on cholinergic urticaria, and the description they have of the hives doesn’t match my rash, but everything else seems to correspond. And given that I seem to also be getting the rash on my upper (upper) chest, around the base of my throat, I don’t think it’s a sweat allergy. But the suggestion is useful nonetheless, and it is definitely a type of heat allergy. So belated thanks for mentioning it!

      🙂 tagÂûght

  3. unstrange mind

    Dyspraxia is a common co-morbid/co-occurring condition with autism and one way dyspraxia can manifest is problems with internal thermoregulation.

    I have mild dyspraxia (funny you mention Harry Potter because Daniel Radcliffe also has dyspraxia, although he is not Autistic. (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=5605093&page=1)) While the article about Radcliffe mainly focuses on “klutziness,” dyspraxia can have a wide range of effects and temperature control is one of them.

    I have additional autonomic involvement so I don’t sweat much at all, which makes my dyspraxic thermoregulation problems very dangerous. I mean, I barely even break a sweat in a sauna. Seriously.

    I just got out of the hospital today after a week of complications that started with dehydration from walking in 90 (F) weather for many miles (because I had to pay a bill that day and my car is broken.) I walked about six miles in that weather and never broke a sweat. Then I ended up delirious, having a bad reaction to one of my medications because of the dehydration, and eventually spending several days on dialysis.

    When I was younger, I used to “just” get heat stroke when I did something like that. Now that I’m older and my health is less robust, the consequences are more serious.

    But, yes, it’s all down to thermoregulation issues of dyspraxia which is tightly linked with my being Autistic.

    This page discusses dyspraxia in adults and mentions “May have problems with sensitivity towards pain, smell, heat and taste.”


    1. Vathara

      Thanks for your posting on dyspraxia. I’d never really heard the term before. Looking it up, I feel like a full-on *Facepalm.* That’s me right there, from the difficulty tying shoes all the way to taking years to learn to drive, much less drive without deeply wondering if everyone else on the road is utterly insane.

      One thing I have noticed is that some days I’m noticeably clumsier than others, especially if I’ve put a lot of mental concentration into a task. Those also seem to be days that the heat gets to me more.

  4. Alana

    I have the worst heat tolerance of anyone I’ve met in person (but you are definitely beating me!). For me, I usually will only break out in hives if I am also stressed, though. Otherwise I will just turn really really pale. (Usually I avoid the heat enough to avoid that, though.) I’ve found, though, that over time I can slowly acclimate to hotter temperatures (at the end of the summer I can “survive” in temperatures that in the beginning I wouldn’t be able to)

    I don’t mind being cold, but I apparently do get cold abnormally early and start shivering far before I realize it.

    1. tagÂûght


      Sorry about the long (three years) delay in getting back to you….

      Based on the fact you have hives, you might have cholinergic urticaria (see Ine’s reply above) – if you don’t know that already. I tend to get a rash rather than hives.

      Anyway, a belated thank you for commenting!

      🙂 tagÂûght

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