How is cryoglobulinemia diagnosed?

Cryoglobulinemia can be diagnosed by certain blood tests, examining a sample of skin (skin biopsy), urine tests (urinalysis, particularly to look for blood in the urine), taking images of the arteries (angiogram), a chest x-ray, and/or testing the funtion of the nerves in the arms or legs.

Last updated on 05-01-20

How are lung symptoms diagnosed in people with cryoglobulinemia?

Lung symptoms can be diagnosed using a pulmonary function test.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Can cryoglobulinemia affect the lungs?

Yes. There are three different types of cryoglobulinemia, type 1, 2, and 3. Lung symptoms are common in type 2 and 3 cryoglobulinemia. Type 2 and 3 disease often occurs in people with an autoimmune disease or hepatitis C. Lung symptoms may include shortness of breath, cough, or sharp pain when breathing in and out (pleurisy). There have been rare cases occuring with BOOP, vasculitis of the lung, and sudden bleeding in the lung.

Last updated on 05-01-20

How common in cryoglobulinemia?

Cryoglobulinemia is estimated to affect 1 in 100,000 individuals.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Can cryoglobulinemia affect the skin?

Yes. Cryoglobulinemia often causes skin symptoms, including redish to purplish flat or slightly raised skin leisons. These leisons most often develop on the lower limbs and feet. Crusty sores and painful ulcers can also occur. Some people have Raynaud phenomenon, livedo reticularis, and painless bluish skin discoloration (particularly of the hands). Skin symptoms worsen with exposure to the cold.

The Vasculitis Foundation provides further information on the symptoms of cryoglobulinemia at the following link:

Last updated on 05-01-20

What is cryoglobulinemia?

Cryoglobulinemia is a type of vasculitis that is caused by abnormal proteins (antibodies) in the blood called "cryoglobulins." At cold temperatures, these proteins become solid or gel- like, which can block blood vessels and cause a variety of health problems. Many people affected by this condition will not experience any unusual signs or symptoms. When present, symptoms vary but may include breathing problems; fatigue; glomerulonephritis; joint or muscle pain; purpura; Raynaud's phenomenon; skin death; and/or skin ulcers. In some cases, the exact underlying cause is unknown; however, cryoglobulinemia can be associated with a variety of conditions including certain types of infection; chronic inflammatory diseases (such as autoimmune disease); and/or cancers of the blood or immune system. Treatment varies based on the severity of the condition, the symptoms present in each person and the underlying cause.

Last updated on 05-01-20

What are the expected outcomes for individuals with cryoglobulinemia?

Cryoglobulinemia is usually not deadly. The outcome usually depends on the disease causing cryoglobulinemia as well as each person's response to treatments. The outcome is not as good when a person's kidneys are affected.

Last updated on 05-01-20

How might cryoglobulinemia be treated?

The treatment for cryoglobinemia depends on the cause and severity of this condition. Avoiding cold temperatures may be enough to treat mild cases. Severe cases may be treated by taking medication to reduce the body's immune response (corticosteroids), by removing some of the blood and replacing it with fluid or donated blood (a process called plasmapheresis), or by specifically treating diseases that may cause cryoglobulinemia (such as hepatitis C).

Last updated on 05-01-20

Name: Vasculitis Foundation P.O. Box 28660
Kansas City, MO, 64188, United States
Phone: +1-816-436-8211 Toll Free: 1-800-277-9474 Fax : +1-816-656-3838 Email: Url:
Name: Alliance for Cryoglobulinemia P.O.Box 103
Barrington, NJ, 08007,
Phone: 856-448-4085 or 925-315-RARE Email: Url:

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