Do you find yourself reaching for a warm sweater even when it’s seventy degrees outside? Should you be concerned if you have always feel cold?
Do you find yourself reaching for a warm sweater even in the middle of summer? Do you complain of feeling cold when everyone else appears comfortable? People vary in their perceptions of what feels cold and what doesn’t; and cold perception can vary within a single individual depending upon the time of day, how much sleep they’ve had, and a host of other factors. If this is a common problem for you, should you be concerned? What does it mean when you always feel cold?
Although there are medical problems that can cause you to always feel cold, if you’ve experienced this symptom for a long period of time, it’s unlikely that serious illness is the cause. If it’s a new symptom, it’s one that bears checking out with your doctor. One of the most common conditions that can cause you to always feel cold is an underactive thyroid gland. The thyroid gland has a direct effect on metabolic rate, so disease involving this gland can present as cold intolerance. Another medical cause of cold intolerance is anemia, or a low red blood cell count. Not only can this condition be associated with cold sensitivity, it can also cause excessive fatigue. Both of these conditions can be detected by a blood test performed by your doctor.
If you always feel cold, your body weight could be a contributing factor. If you’re under your ideal body weight, you may not have enough subcutaneous fat to insulate yourself against colder temperatures. Very thin people often complain of cold sensitivity, particularly women. Women, in general, appear to be more intolerant of cold than men due to their lower overall muscle mass. Excessive dieting can also play a role in cold intolerance by slowing metabolism so that less heat is generated. People on very low calorie diets and those with eating disorders often experience extreme cold sensitivity which can usually be corrected by increasing calorie intake.
Age can also affect cold tolerance which is why this symptom is so common in the elderly population. Older people have more difficulty regulating body temperature. In addition, they have less muscle and subcutaneous fat to provide insulation.
Sometimes simple hormonal changes can bring on symptoms of cold intolerance. Some women develop sensitivity to cold in the week preceding their menstrual period due to fluctuations in hormone levels. This is usually not a cause for concern unless other symptoms are present.
If you always feel cold, should you see your doctor? If it’s new symptom or if you have other symptoms such as excessive fatigue or weight loss, it’s wise to have blood tests done to check for metabolic problems such as thyroid disease and anemia. If you’re underweight, adding a few pounds may improve your symptoms. When you go out, particularly in the winter, try dressing in multiple layers so you can add or subtract clothing based on how you feel. This can make the symptom of cold intolerance much easier to deal with.