Why Am I Always Cold?

Feeling chilly all the time can be quite a nuisance. More often than not, friends, family members, and coworkers with good circulation have a hard time understanding someone’s continuous plight of cold feet and fingers. Sometimes, their reactions can be quite cold and their appreciation for the problem as low as the thermostat.

“Why am I always cold” is one of the questions people with poor circulation most frequently ask. There are numerous answers to this puzzling question, ranging from lack of sleep and low body weight to nutritional deficiency and dehydration. Sometimes, eating disorders, certain medications, and even serious health issues might be the reason. Read on to find out more about what makes you feel cold all the time.

Hypothyroidism

Starting off on a serious note, problems with the thyroid gland can lead to problems with blood circulation and, consequently, cause you to feel cold all the time. Your thyroid is in charge of the production of the thyroid hormone which regulates your metabolism.

If the production is lower than usual or your body is unable to absorb sufficient amounts of the hormone, you can develop hypothyroidism. Besides constant chills, the symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, dry skin, constipation, irregular periods, and hair loss. Also, you might experience substantial weight gain due to the lower metabolism.

Medications

It is not unusual for some medications to cause poor circulation as a side effect. If you’ve only recently started feeling cold, it might be a good idea to check if it coincides with starting a new med. If you’re taking blood pressure medications, such as propranolol, you might get cold feet and hands as an unwanted aftereffect.

If that’s the case, make sure to tell your doctor about the symptoms the next time you go for a checkup. He or she will likely suggest an alternative.

Blood vessel problems

Problems with blood vessels can also cause your feet and hands to constantly feel cold. There are numerous conditions and diseases that can potentially compromise blood circulation. Raynaud’s disease and arteriosclerosis are some of the most prominent. Here’s a brief explanation of each.

Raynaud’s Disease

The most common symptoms of Reynaud’s disease include hands and feet turning white (or even blue) in cold temperatures. Behind the scenes, the arteries responsible for sending blood to your fingers and toes spasm when exposed to cold. Usually, Reynaud’s disease is mild enough to not affect the patient’s overall quality of life, though sometimes it may be a sign of a more serious underlying problem.

Arteriosclerosis

In a nutshell, arteriosclerosis is the hardening and thickening of arterial walls. It is a condition that restricts blood flow little by little. Genetic factors, unhealthy diet and lifestyle, smoking, and a myriad of other things can kick off arteriosclerosis, the primary cause of stroke and CAD (coronary artery disease).

The most common symptoms of arteriosclerosis, beside incessant chills, include confusion, impaired vision, numbness in legs and face, weakness, and difficulty understanding speech. If you recognize any of these, go see your doctor as soon as possible.

Anemia

Your body’s inability to produce enough red blood cells is termed anemia. As a result of this inability, whatever lowered percentage of red blood cells in your bloodstream can’t transport enough oxygen throughout your body, which will most likely cause the extremities like your feet and hands to feel cold. The other common symptoms associated with anemia include fatigue, short breath, and physical weakness. You might also feel unusually thirsty, confused, or as if you’re about to pass out.

The development of anemia is often ascribed to insufficient levels of some important nutrients – most notably iron and vitamin B12. If you suspect that you’re feeling cold due to anemia, be sure to see your doctor and get a blood test to confirm your suspicion.

Diabetic Nephropathy

Diabetic nephropathy (commonly referred to as diabetic kidney disease or DN) is a chronic disease that affects individuals suffering from diabetes mellitus. It is a loss of kidney function caused by low levels of serum albumin, which is, in turn, caused by an excessive loss of protein in urine.

Aside from perpetually feeling cold, those suffering from diabetic nephropathy may also experience nocturia (frequent nocturnal urination), headaches, fatigue, vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite, swollen legs, itchy skin, frequent urination throughout the day, and more. DN is a serious condition that you should confront right away if you recognize the symptoms.

Lack of Sleep

While not nearly as serious as the previously described conditions, lack of sleep can also make you more susceptible to cold than usual. If you don’t rest properly, your body will not be able to heal and get rid of the accumulated stress. This can only mess with your internal thermostat.

Even short periods of sleep deprivation can increase your vulnerability to lower temperatures. Therefore, make sure to get sufficient shuteye to ward off those chills and goose bumps.

Poor Nutrition

The food that you eat is your body’s fuel, and if poorly (or inadequately) fueled, your body will naturally decrease the scope of its activity. Slowing down blood circulation toward the peripheral areas (read fingers and toes) is one of your body’s first warning signs and self-preservation mechanisms.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that many anorexia and bulimia patients report feeling constantly cold, among other symptoms. If you feel cold and hungry, take a bite and give your body the fuel it needs to work at full capacity.

Dehydration

Apart from needing proper nutrition and rest, your body also needs proper hydration. Similar to lack of sleep and food, your body will enter the self-preservation mode when faced with insufficient water supplies.

Water is very good at retaining heat, and when it is in low supply, it is easier for heat to leave your body. To prevent the precious heat from escaping, make sure to drink enough water. Apart from feeling warmer, proper hydration also has numerous other beneficial effects on your body and overall health.

Gender

Finally, the reason that you always feel a bit cold, even when people around you feel fine, might be down to gender differences. Experts from the University of Utah found that women, while having 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit higher core temperature than men, have around 3 degrees colder hands and feet.

A study published in 2015 in the journal Nature suggests that men are (on average) comfortable at 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit, while women need an additional 5 degrees for the same effect. If you can’t win the thermostat war at the office, consider adding a layer or two to your work attire or investing in a small space heater.

Conclusion

The question “Why am I always cold” can have many potential answers. While some are as benign as dehydration or a poor night’s sleep, others can be as serious as hypothyroidism, diabetic nephropathy, or a blood vessel disorder.

In case you constantly feel chilly, it is a good idea to check your eating, sleeping, and hydration habits first. If these check out, you might want to pay attention to any other problems and symptoms that you might be experiencing. If you notice anything strange, be sure to contact your doctor as soon as possible.

 

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/symptoms-causes/syc-20350284

https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/propranolol-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20071164?p=1

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/raynauds/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arteriosclerosis-atherosclerosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350569

https://www.stroke.org.uk/what-is-stroke

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/coronary-heart-disease

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20351360

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2761852/

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14510-nocturia

https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/types/anorexia

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000341.htm

https://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate2741.epdf

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2805%2978875-9/fulltext

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