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Doctors baffled after teen girl’s head swells up like beach ball

Doctors have been left baffled after a teenage girl’s head swelled up “like a beach ball” overnight.

Bethan Kentesber, 18, was stunned when she woke up at 3am to see her face, arms and legs had swollen and a rash had spread all over her body.

The student, from Lichfield, Staffs., rushed to A&E where she was given a course of steroids to reduce the inflammation – which took over a week to disappear.

Bethan's face during the swelling.

Bethan’s face during the swelling.

It is believed Bethan suffered from spontaneous urticarial, which occurs when the symptoms of an allergic reaction are triggered in the body without any reason.

Bethan, who is studying childcare, said: “It was scary. I felt anxious because I didn’t know what it was.

“I’ve never had skin problems and nothing like this has ever happened before.

“At first I developed some red oblong-shaped spots on my arms and legs, but I thought they were chicken pox.

“But then I realised they were too big to be that.

“I showed them to my mum who thought they were hives, and we put some E45 cream on them to try to stop the itching.”

The next day, Bethan went to her GP who prescribed antihistamines – but that night she woke up with a swollen face at 3am.

Bethan after the swelling had gone down

Bethan after the swelling had gone down

She added: “My lips had doubled in size and wouldn’t stop tingling and my head had
blown up like a beach ball.

“My arms and legs puffed up too, and developed a rash without warning.

“I ended up knocking on my parent‘s bedroom door at three in the morning because my face started to swell in the middle of the night.

“My mum called NHS 111 and we were told to go to the hospital.

“They asked if I was allergic to anything and I told them I wasn’t.

“I was given steroids and a few days later things calmed down.”

Bethany was referred to one of Britain’s top immunologists, Dr Jonathan North, at City Hospital in Winson Green, Birmingham, who confirmed her symptoms were a mystery.

He said: “It can be difficult to tell an allergic rash or swelling from one that occurs due to over activity of the immune system as with spontaneous urticaria.

“Often factors that stress the body such as infections, exercise, heat or even sunlight can cause allergy cells to become stimulated just like they would if a patient has hay fever or a peanut allergy.

“The difference is that with allergy, with trigger is usually a protein in food, pollen or animals, for example, and symptoms occur rapidly only when the patient is exposed.

“With spontaneous urticaria, the attacks seem to be much more random.”

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