Ever wonder why you often feel cold, even when you crank the heat? Other times, you just suddenly feel a burst of coldness and can’t stop your body from shivering. If this often happens to you even when ambient temperatures are set at the most optimal levels, you may have a case of cold intolerance.
Cold intolerance, or the feelings of discomfort and sensitivity to the cold from external temperatures like touching moderately cold things, could be attributed to numerous factors, including your gender. For example, women have a susceptibility to feeling cold frequently, due to their lower metabolic rates, resulting in a slower burning of energy which results in less heat.
Some people also find that they feel a wave of cold or start shivering after a workout. This happens because during the workout, you use up your energy stores, causing a drop in blood sugar levels.
Your genetics are another factor that could be causing you to always feel cold. Research shows that your genetics, specifically the ACTN3 or skeletal muscle gene is a huge predictor in determining how resilient an individual is to cold temperatures.
While the feeling of always being cold is not an immediate cause for concern in most cases, under certain circumstances, perpetually feeling cold even when external temperatures are warm, can be indicative of underlying health concerns. Below is everything you need to know about cold intolerance, from its symptoms to common causes, to possible solutions for always being cold:
Symptoms of Cold Intolerance
Some symptoms of cold intolerance include the feeling of numbness, stiffness, or weakness. It may also include painful burning or prickling sensations, swelling, and itching of the skin. Other symptoms include sensitivity towards holding cold objects and being in places with low temperatures. The skin may also experience a change in color, resulting in a more pallid hue instead of the usual healthy pink.
10 Common Reasons You’re Always Cold
There are more than 10 possible reasons why you may always feel cold, but we’ll go over some of the common reasons for always being cold. It can be a big nuisance, especially when the weather is normal or warm, and the ambient temperatures are set at a comfortable level. Find out some of the causes for often being cold below:
1. Poor Blood Circulation
Poor blood circulation, often a result of other issues like high blood pressure or blood vessel issues, will leave you feeling cold all the time. Especially in cases of blood vessel disorder, poor blood flow to the upper and lower extremities will result In lower body heat.
Poor blood circulation can also be caused by obesity, diabetes, or underlying heart conditions. You can improve blood circulation by doing more frequent cardiovascular exercise, dry brushing your body, and drinking green tea.
2. Your Physiology
As mentioned, women are physiologically designed to ‘run colder’ than men. This is because blood flow is often primarily directed towards the organs, causing the limbs and extremities to feel cold. Your genetics also play a big role in this, so if you have parents, aunts, or cousins that always feel cold, your DNA may be the culprit.
3. Low Body Weight or Malnutrition
Body fat provides insulation from cold external temperatures. Lacking adequate fat will cause you to feel a lot colder than others, and more frequently so. Patients with cancer, chronic diseases, or eating disorders lose body fat, which lessens the insulation causing you to feel cold. This is also the case for aging individuals who lose fat cells. Dieting and exercise routines may also leave you feeling colder as you burn body fat.
In cases of patients with a severe eating disorder like anorexia, they have much lower body fat as a result of malnutrition. Malnutrition would result in your body burning off its fat stores instead of energy found in food, lessening the insulation available to keep your body warm. Not only that, but anorexia patients also have restricted caloric intake, which lowers the overall metabolic rate, thereby lowering body heat production.
Roughly 60% of your body is composed of water. Hydration plays a significant role in retaining body heat, as water traps heat and slowly releases it into the body to keep it warm. Being dehydrated prevents your body from properly regulating heat. Moreover, low water intake also results in a lower metabolic rate.
Thyroid issues may also be a root cause of your prolonged and frequent feelings of coldness. The thyroid hormones work to regulate your metabolism. Low levels of this thyroid hormone will lower your metabolic rate, resulting in less generation of body heat. Noteworthy, hypothyroidism is often accompanied by other symptoms apart from always being cold, like thinning of hair, dry skin, irregular menstruation, constipation, weight gain, and fatigue.
6 Raynaud’s Syndrome
Raynaud’s syndrome is often experienced by patients battling lupus or scleroderma. It is a condition where a patient’s fingers or toes turn blue upon exposure to the cold, and then turn back to red once warmed. This is caused by the unusual constriction of blood vessels. This deprives the tissue of oxygen, lowering the skin’s temperature.
8. Anemia (Iron Deficiency)
Anemia is a medical condition where a patient does not produce enough red blood cells which are responsible for transporting oxygen. It also occurs when a patient lacks hemoglobin, the iron-containing protein. In the case where the anemia is a result of a lack of oxygen, one feels cold as oxygen is a vital component in the metabolic process of burning calories, and it plays a role in the narrowing of blood vessels to conserve heat. In cases where anemia is a result of iron deficiency, low levels of iron increase sensitivity to cold. Bear in mind that iron is needed to produce thyroid hormones in charge of regulating metabolic processes.
You can improve your iron levels by consuming more foods high in iron, or taking iron supplements.
9. Always Cold Due to Side Effects From Certain Medication
Taking certain medications may cause your body to be more sensitive to the cold. This is the case for medications that impede blood circulation, or damage nerves involved in skin regulation, or even cells. Other hormone medications may also affect your metabolism, and thus, the amount of body heat you retain. Such medication includes beta-blockers, chemotherapy, hormonal contraceptives, hormone replacements, immunosuppressants, inferons, and statin drugs.
10. Poor Sleep Habits
Poor sleep habits, such as not getting enough sleep or having an irregular sleep schedule due to a sleep disorder, can impact your metabolism. Often, lack of sleep can slow down your metabolism. As established earlier, a slower metabolism results in higher cold sensitivity and intolerance.
What Can You Do to Alleviate Cold Intolerance?
The first thing to do when trying to address why you are always cold is to speak to your doctor about your symptoms. Once you decipher the root cause of always being cold, it’s easier to find solutions. Some illnesses that result in feeling cold all the time, such as hypothyroidism, can be weeded out in order to identify the root cause. Once you have gotten an idea of whether your condition is a result of medical or lifestyle concerns, you can begin to address the problem.
Find out if genetic factors could be causing you to always feel cold by taking a DNA test from CircleDNA.