About Cryoglobulinemia

Cryoglobulinemia is a form of vasculitis (inflammatory vessel disease) characterized by elevated levels of cryoglobulins, proteins in the blood that lump together in cold temperatures. This accumulation disrupts blood flow which can result in organ damage, particularly in the kidneys and liver.

Cryoglobulinemia is often associated with an underlying condition, especially Hepatitis C. Other diseases linked to the condition include blood cancers and inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, and lupus erythematosus.

Symptoms of Cryoglobulinemia

Some people with cryoglobulinemia do not experience symptoms. For others, the symptoms come and go.

Symptoms of cryoglobulinemia may include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Muscle and/or joint pain
  • Numbness and discoloration of hands and feet, especially in cold temperatures
  • Rash with red or purple spots under the skin
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Weakness and/or fatigue

Risk Factors for Cryoglobulinemia

The cause of cryoglobulinemia is unknown, but many risk factors associated with the condition have been identified.

Risk factors for cryoglobulinemia may include:

  • Age: Cryoglobulinemia typically affects people over the age of 50.
  • Comorbid conditions: Cryoglobulinemia most commonly occurs in people with the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). Other conditions linked to cryoglobulinemia include rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, lupus erythematosus, and lymphoma.
  • Sex: The condition is more common in female patients.

Treating Cryoglobulinemia at UT Health Austin

Like all forms of vasculitis, corticosteroids like prednisone can be used to address the inflammation associated with cryoglobulinemia. Your physician may also use a biologic drug called rituximab.

Care Team Approach

At UT Health Austin, we take a multidisciplinary approach to your care. This means you will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines caring for you in one place. The Vasculitis Clinic care team includes rheumatologists, nurses, and medical assistants who work together to help you get back to the things in your life that matter most to you.

We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to develop the best treatment plan for you. Advanced imaging and lab testing are also available on-site if needed, including computed tomography angiography (CTA) and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA).

Learn More About Your Care Team

Two young women of color stand next to each other in a park, smiling at each other. Both are wearing athletic clothes.

Rheumatology Clinic

Health Transformation Building, 1st Floor
1601 Trinity Street, Bldg. A, Austin, Texas 78712
1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737)
Get Directions

An East Asian, mature man with a beard and glasses, dressed in a blue button down shirt and nave blue sweater vest, glances to his left reading a document while holding an orange coffee mug in his right hand.

Vasculitis Clinic

Health Transformation Building, 1st Floor
1601 Trinity Street, Bldg. A, Austin, Texas 78712
1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737)
Get Directions