Intolerance to cold: All you need to know
Learn about cold intolerance
Do you always feel cold, even if you layer on the clothes and blankets all the time, and yet you’re still shivering? You could have a cold intolerance, which is sensitivity to a cold environment or cold places. Sometimes people are unable to tolerant cold if they are extremely thin and have little to no body fat or lose too much weight, too quickly (this affects more thin women than men). Other reasons that you may always feel cold include anemia, blood vessel problems such as Raynaud’s phenomenon, general poor health or being underweight, and problems with the hypothalamus.
If you are constantly cold, you could be suffering from anemia, a condition where the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to provide oxygen to the body tissues. Bone marrow in the body is the number one ‘producer’ of red blood cells. The healthy blood cells in our body usually last 90 to 120 before part of your body work to replace these old cells, with new ones. In your kidneys, the hormone known as erythropoietin tells your bone marrow to make more blood cells, and then the hemoglobin carries oxygen inside the red blood cells. People suffering from anemia do not have enough hemoglobin to produce enough oxygen to keep the red blood cells functioning properly. Some of the symptoms of anemia including feeling cold, pale skin, sore tongue and shortness of breath. Usually taking vitamins and different supplements with iron and zinc can help with this.
Raynaud’s phenomenon is when cold temperatures or strong emotions cause the blood vessels to swell up and spasm, thereby blocking the blood flood to the fingers, toes, ears and nose. Some causes of this ‘phenomenon’ include artery disease, prescription drugs that cause the arteries to shrink, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, smoking and frostbite. There usually isn’t pain associated with this condition, but rather the fingers, toes, ears and nose because very cold, white, and can even turn blue. Your doctor can diagnosis this condition for you, and provide you with treatment options that can include avoiding smoking, which causes the blood vessels to shrink, avoid caffeine and medications that tighten the blood vessels, keep your body warm by wearing protective gear when both inside (i.e. wool socks and sweaters) and outside (i.e. gloves, hats, boots).
Being underweight can also cause a person to constantly feel cold, and unable to warm up. If you are underweight, that means that your body doesn’t have enough ‘fat’ to keep yourself warm, and maintain your body temperature. Losing too much weight too quickly is also unhealthy, and may affect your body’s ability to stay warm. Though being active and healthy is important, it’s also crucial that you don’t dip below your body’s healthy weight. If you are not providing your body with adequate nutrition, vitamins and minerals, you overall health with suffer, and you may begin to experience cold chills, grogginess, mood swings and exhaustion. Visiting a doctor or nutrition specialist can help you stay on track and can help you determine a healthy body weight.
The hypothalamus is a portion of the brain that produces hormones that control body temperature, hunger, moods, thirst, sleep, sex drive, and a release of hormones from many glands (especially the pituitary glands). If you have a problem with your hypothalamus, your body could have trouble regulating its body temperature. This could cause a cold tolerance in your body. Blood tests can be done to determine whether or not your hypothalamus is functioning maximally. Usually treatment involves replacing those hormones that are causing the hypothalamus to malfunction.