Cold Agglutinin Disease is a Rare Autoimmune Disease

Anemia is a common condition which has many different branches. The basis of anemia is that the red blood cells in the body aren’t doing their job of transferring oxygen.


There can be several causes for this. Typically, either not enough red blood cells are being produced, or the red blood cells being produced are abnormal in some fashion, which keeps them from carrying enough blood. 

Many people suffer from anemia in a variety of different ways. Autoimmune hemolytic anemia is a disease in which the immune system attacks the red blood cells. This means that there’s not enough red blood cells to run through the bloodstream. There are several offshoots of autoimmune hemolytic anemia. One of these offshoots is cold agglutinin disease. Keep reading if you’re interested in learning more about cold agglutinin disease. 

Causes of Cold Agglutinin Disease

As mentioned, cold agglutinin is an autoimmune disease. There are two different types of cold agglutinin causes. Primary cases of cold agglutinin disease actually don’t have a cause. Or rather, the cause is undetectable. 

Secondary cold agglutinin disease does have a specific cause. Rather, it has many causes, as it is brought on by suffering from a different type of disease or condition. Of all the diseases that can cause a problem, lymphoma is the most common secondary cause of cold agglutinin disease. There are many other causes as well. 

Viral infections like the flu, hepatitis, rubella, mumps, HIV and Epstein-Barr virus are all potential causes of cold agglutinin disease. Malaria is an example of a parasitic infection that functions as a cause. Bacterial infections like E.Coli are also causes. Lymphoma is the most common form of cancer which can cause cold agglutinin disease, but there’s also multiple myeloma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and Kaposi sarcoma. Finally, other autoimmune diseases can also act as causes. 

Symptoms of Cold Agglutinin Disease

The symptoms of cold agglutinin disease trigger during exposure to cold temperatures. This unique feature of cold agglutinin disease is what’s so unique and rare. Symptoms are worse between 32 and 50 degrees temperature wise. Severity can vary, but some of the common symptoms that occur include: 

  • Excessive Fatigue
  • Feeling Dizzy
  • Headaches
  • Skin Turning Pale
  • Urine Changing Color and Darkening
  • Feeling Cold in the Hands and Feet
  • Jaundice (Yellowing of the Skin) 
  • Feeling Chest Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Uncomfortable Diarrhea
  • Heart Problems (Enlarged Hearts, Heart Failure, Arrhythmia, Heart Murmurs)

Treating Cold Agglutinin Disease

Since it’s a rare disease, diagnosis can take a little bit of time. There are many different tests which may be necessary to assist in figuring out if people have cold agglutinin disease. Once discovered, treatment can begin. It may go without saying, but staying out of cold weather and cold temperature situations is important. It can help avoid triggering the disease. 

For people with secondary cold agglutinin disease, treatment will focus on the underlying cause. Typically, when the underlying cause is removed, cold agglutinin disease will follow and go away within several months. 

There are some medications which can reduce the aggressiveness of the immune system. These can be used to assist in serious treatments. Blood filtering is also a potential option for people who are suffering from severe cases. Blood transfusions can be used during emergency situations, but are purely a short term situation.