Sweating while playing sports serves an important function for keeping our bodies at comfortable temperatures, but for one college athlete, it can be life-threatening.
According to ABC News, 20-year-old Caitlin McComish, of White House, Ohio, suffers from a severe form of a common condition known as cholinergic urticaria.
McComish's body has an intense inflammatory reaction when her skin is exposed to sweat, causing her to develop hives and her throat to swell.
McComish, a student at the University of Toledo and a member of the school's women's soccer team, first suffered from an anaphylactic shock after going for a run in May 2013 in her hometown.
"I was right in front of my grade school," she told ABC News. "I had a really upset stomach, tingly palms and the bottoms of my feet. I was really, really itchy. It hit me like uncomfortable heat waves. Then I could feel the swelling in my throat, and my tongue got tingly and thicker."
Fortunately, she was able to call her mother, who arrived with an ambulance before she collapsed.
But McComish's physical symptoms had gotten worse by the time she came back to school the following fall semester, suffering shocks a staggering 17 times.
A study in 1994 found that cholinergic urticaria commonly affected young adults ages 15-35, with 11 percent showing symptoms of the disorder. However, “reactions were mostly mild and restricted to fleeting, pinpoint-size wheals.”
The avid soccer player tried a number of ways to decrease her body's response to sweat, including wearing a cooling vest during games and ice baths before practice, but it was no use.
Dr. David Lang, chairman of the department of allergy and clinical immunology at The Cleveland Clinic, eventually advised McComish to undergo Xolair injections, which are typically prescribed to people with asthma.
McComish has noticed a “dramatic response” since starting the treatment, and can now return to the soccer field.