What Does It Mean When You Are Always Cold?

Medically Reviewed on 11/10/2021
why am i always cold
If you’re always cold even during cooler months, your cold intolerance could be a result of one of the following factors or medical conditions.

Abnormal sensitivity to a chilly environment or cold temperatures is known as cold intolerance.

Various factors might contribute to a sensation of constantly feeling cold. If you're having trouble staying warm during cooler months, your problem probably isn't caused by the weather.

A person's continuous chill can be caused by various health disorders, and certain symptoms may indicate underlying conditions that require medical attention.

17 causes of cold intolerance

The 17 causes of cold intolerance include:

  1. Extremes of age:
    • According to research, elderly people are more susceptible to cold because their metabolism is slower, and they produce less heat.
    • According to studies, our body’s ability to conserve heat declines about 60 years of age, resulting in a colder sensation.
    • As you get older, you may notice a decrease in muscle mass, which can be a contributing factor.
  2. Not enough fat:
    • Triglycerides, cholesterol, and other important fatty acids help our organs store energy and protect them.
    • Because fat insulates the body, underweight people tend to feel cold in normal circumstances.
    • A low body mass index is frequently the result of calorie restriction, which can decrease metabolism and reduce body temperature.
  3. Gender:
    • Women are more likely to report feeling cold because of their physiology. Estrogen reduces blood flow to the extremities.
    • According to research, women tend to feel colder during their menstrual cycle when their estrogen levels are high.
  4. Pregnancy:
    • Pregnant women are more likely to have anemia and poor circulation, particularly in their legs.
    • As a result, pregnant women may occasionally complain about having a chill, particularly in their hands and feet.
  5. Not enough sleep:
    • Inadequate sleep releases stress hormones and causes a decrease in the activity of the hypothalamus, which is the brain’s control panel that regulates body temperature.
    • Sleep deprivation can make you more susceptible to the flu and other diseases.
  6. Diet:
    • Most nutritionists confirm that people who eat a lot of water-dense, cold foods may feel colder than others. Smoothies, iced drinks, and salads are some examples of such diets.
  7. Dehydration:
    • When you're dehydrated, your body becomes more sensitive to temperature fluctuations.
    • Water serves as the primary source of energy for metabolism. Having less water in your body can slow down your metabolic rate and cool you down.
  8. Smoking:
    • Our internal temperature is regulated by thermoregulator cells in our skin that detect cold and constrict our capillaries and blood vessels in a process known as vasoconstriction, slowing blood flow.
    • People who smoke have more vasoconstriction, which cools their extremities.
  9. Anxiety:
    • People who have anxiety are more likely to feel cold than others.
    • This happens because when you are anxious, your amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for protecting the body and responding to danger) is activated, which causes your body to expend all its reserves and energy to keep you safe. 
    • Hence, you feel cold because your body is concentrating on calming you down and does not have enough blood flow to keep you warm.
  10. Hypotension:
  11. Diabetes:
    • Diabetes is characterized by poor blood circulation, particularly in the extremities, which can cause cold hands and feet.
    • Moreover, diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and artery narrowing, which can both contribute to cold hands and feet.
  12. Low iron intake:
    • Anemia (iron deficiency) is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States, particularly among women. It causes various issues, including chronic chills and cold extremities.
  13. Vitamin B12 deficiency:
    • Vitamin B12 is important in the production of red blood cells and the transport of oxygen.
    • Because our bodies cannot produce red blood cells, the lack thereof results in vitamin B12 deficiency anemia.
    • This lack of vitamin B12 may often lead to chills and feeling cold.
  14. Atherosclerosis:
    • If your feeling of chills is limited to one side of your body, you may have atherosclerosis (cholesterol clogs the blood vessels).
    • Naturally, this will compromise the blood supply to various organs. If the blood vessels that supply your limbs are affected, it may cause cold extremities.
  15. Thyroid:
    • Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is underactive.
    • Although the gland is in charge of many metabolic processes, it is involved in body temperature regulation.
    • People with hypothyroidism frequently experience coldness because they do not produce enough thyroid hormone. As a result, the metabolism slows, resulting in the sensation of being cold.
  16. Raynaud’s syndrome:
    • It is a rather unusual narrowing of the blood vessels that constricts when the fingers or toes are exposed to cold, causing vasospasm, which is a temporary constriction or narrowing of the blood vessels.
    • Raynaud's disease affects women more than men and is more prevalent in people living in colder climates.
  17. Spinal injury:
    • The spinal cord is primarily a sensing organ that is capable of sensing movement, temperature, and touch.
    • People who have had a spinal cord injury may find it difficult to feel hot and cold sensations because such an injury can damage the temperature sensors.

A healthy diet and an active lifestyle are critical for proper vascular function. Smoking, drinking alcohol, improper stress management, and a sedentary lifestyle contribute to metabolic and biochemical imbalances, resulting in compromised blood flow and poor blood vessel health. 

Consult your doctor to check your blood tests for signs of thyroid problems or any other health issues that could explain your frequent complaints of chills or cold feelings.

Medically Reviewed on 11/10/2021
Image Source: iStock Images

Why Am I Cold? https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/why-am-i-cold

5 Reasons you’re Always Cold: https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2018/reasons-for-being-cold-fd.html

I am a woman. Why am I always so cold? https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/health/i-am-woman-why-am-i-always-so-cold

Always feeling cold? 6 health conditions that may be the reason why: https://shine365.marshfieldclinic.org/wellness/always-cold/