Cryoglobulins are abnormal proteins in the blood. If you have cryoglobulinemia (kry-oh-glob-u-lih-NE-me-uh), these proteins clump together in the cold. This causes the plasma to become thick like maple syrup and deposit clumps in blood vessels.

Cryoglobulinemia tends to be a condition that occurs in people over 50 years of age. Most people with cryoglobulinemia won't experience symptoms. But if you have moderate to severe disease, you may experience blocked arteries and damage to your skin, joints, muscles, nerves, kidneys and liver. The course of the disease will vary, depending on the severity. Symptoms may come and go. For some people, cold temperatures may cause flare-ups.

No one knows exactly what causes cryoglobulinemia. Depending on the type you have, it may be associated with one of a number of conditions, such as hepatitis C infection, multiple myeloma and autoimmune disease.

Dec. 17, 2014

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