Why am I so cold?
It's a question I hear frequently from patients, not just during winter months but also in the summer. Although certain individuals may have a natural tendency to be cold, there are a variety of conditions that could explain their constant chill.
Hot and cold symptoms are part of thyroid function. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck. It helps control your metabolic rate. If the thyroid doesn't make enough hormone, or if your body can't process the hormone effectively, you may have hypothyroidism. The cause for low thyroid should be evaluated. This condition can be treated by replacing the amount of hormone that your thyroid can no longer make. There are various forms of thyroid medication available.
Individuals who often feel cold in their hands and feet may have a blood vessel disorder in which blood flow to the arms and legs is restricted. Blood vessel disorders include peripheral artery disease, a restriction of blood flow seen in smokers, diabetics and people with high cholesterol. If you have these symptoms and risk factors, a circulation evaluation may be in order.
Raynaud's disease causes spasms of the small blood vessels to fingers and toes and make hands and feet cold. This time of year it is important to keep your extremities warm if this happens to you.
If you have lost weight due to illness, an eating disorder or some other cause, you have less body fat to insulate you than a heavier person so you may feel cold more acutely. Abnormal weight loss should be evaluated.
Some drugs can cause you to feel cold. For example, beta blockers can affect circulation, and sometimes dose adjustments can help.
Chills and feeling cold can also occur with infection. This time of year the flu and pneumonia may be culprits. If you have a fever or symptoms of infection see your doctor.
If you are 60 or older, your tendency to be chilly may be the result of a natural dip in your temperature control mechanisms due to the aging process. When metabolism slows, so does the body's ability to generate heat.
If being cold is disrupting your life, or if you remain constantly cold regardless of taking various measures to stay warm, I would definitely suggest a visit with your doctor.