Why Am I Always Cold? 10 Reasons You’re Always Cold

Why Am I Always Cold? 10 Reasons You’re Always Cold

Do you feel cold all the time?  If so you will probably wonder why you need to be swathed in layers of clothes when your friends and family are peeling them off.  The chances are that when other people come to your home they start to swelter and feel faint from the heat but when you visit your friends’ homes you have to wrap yourself up in a blanket and top up on the hot drinks just to keep from feeling as though you are in an icebox.

It may seem like a pretty trivial problem but it can be annoying and can cause real issues – it is just not professional to wear your coat at your desk and hug a hot water bottle at work!  So just why do you feel cold all the time?  There are a number of potential reasons ranging from medical problems through to a lack of sleep.  In this article we have set out the most common 10 reasons why someone might feel cold all the time, if you notice that some of these apply to you, you may want to speak with your physician who will be able to advise you on how best to handle it.

10. You Might Be Anemic

Cold? Maybe you're anemic
Cold? Maybe you’re anemic

Red Blood Cells are one of the key components of our blood.  Their job is to carry oxygen from the lungs through the bloodstream and to the other organs.  The red blood cells are able to perform this function because they are full of a compound called hemoglobin which helps bind to oxygen temporarily.  A key component of hemoglobin is iron: a lack of iron in the diet or through excessive blood loss can cause a condition known as iron deficiency anemia.  It is more common in women than men, particularly women who suffer from heavy menstrual periods.

One of the key symptoms of anemia is that you feel cold.  If your inability to feel comfortable at normal temperatures is fairly recent you might want to consider getting a blood test run in order to rule out problems with anemia.  Once identified it is relatively easy to treat.  You can take iron supplements to boost your levels up to normal relatively quickly but in order to maintain them you should aim to make changes to your diet.  You should aim to eat more beef liver, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, green leafy vegetables like spinach and eggs.  All of these are not only high in iron but are more efficient at delivering iron into the body than supplements.

9. You Might Be Anorexic

If you're anorexic you have good reason to be cold. Grab a burger and a sweater.
If you’re anorexic you have good reason to be cold. Grab a burger and a sweater.

Anorexia is a food disorder where sufferers restrict their food intake as much as possible.  Anorexics are more than just thin they are dangerously underweight and are likely to suffer from a range of problems including headaches, dry skin, problems sleeping and an inability to regulate their body temperature.  Because anorexics often hide their bodies under baggy clothing their family and friends may not, initially, notice their weight loss and therefore if someone complains about feeling cold all the time it can be a warning sign that indicates that loved ones may need to watch out for food problems and support the sufferer to seek treatment.

The reasons that sufferers of anorexia often feel cold all the time is due to the fact that they have very little body fat.  While too much fat is, of course, a bad thing, fat does play an important role in maintaining body temperature.  This is because not only does fat act as an insulating material, protecting our bodies from fluctuations in temperature, but, when we notice that we are cold, our bodies burn fat to release energy which generates heat.  This is why you will notice that people who originate from colder areas (such as the Inuit) tend to carry more fat than those who originate from warmer areas (such as a Masai for example) as people from colder climates need more fat to maintain their body temperature.

Wherever you live and whatever your ethic origin you should, however, aim to ensure that your BMI (body mass index) which measures the relationship between your height and weight does not drop below 18.5 which is the lower end of the ‘normal’ category.

8. You Might Be Developing Diabetes

Diabetes is the worst. Beside all the health risks it might be making you cold.
Diabetes is the worst. Beside all the health risks it might be making you cold.

If you have not previously felt cold all the time but you suddenly find that you just cannot get warm at all you may be developing diabetes.  If you are already aware that you are diabetic you will be aware of this potential problem and know what to watch out for.  Sadly due to unhealthy diet and lifestyle, Type II diabetes is on the rise in the developed world.  This disease typically comes on in middle life and the early symptoms can be difficult to detect.  While the most commonly known symptoms are a raging thirst and pressing need to urinate tied in with extreme tiredness some undiagnosed diabetics find that they are unable to regulate their body temperature.

Diabetes is easily dismissed by non-sufferers as a lifestyle disease that is easily managed with tablets and injections.  Sadly it is much more complicated than that and left unmanaged can cause significant damage to the body and the health of the sufferer.  One of the side effects of diabetes is known as diabetic nephrothapy  or diabetic kidney damage which can occur when blood sugar levels are allowed to remain too high for too long.  If the blood sugar levels damage the kidneys they are not able to filter the blood properly.  One of the symptoms and side effects of this problem is feeling cold all the time.

If you are a diagnosed diabetic and you suddenly start to notice the cold you should ask your physician to run kidney function tests.  If you are not diagnosed as a diabetic it is one of the issues you should consider discussing with your doctor in order to rule out diabetes as a possible cause.

7. You Might Have Problems With Your Blood Or Blood Vessels

Bad blood flow may be causing your shivering
Bad blood flow may be causing your shivering

Your blood vessels are a vital part of your body – if they are suffering from problems then you may find that one of the symptoms can result in you feeling cold all the time.  If your blood is not clotting as it should be then you might notice that you start to feel cold all the time.  There are anecdotal reports from people who take Coumadin and Warfarin to reduce clotting problems that they feel cold while on the medication.

Arteriosclerosis which is a narrowing and hardening of the blood vessels can also cause coldness, particularly in the hands and feet, leading someone to feel as though they just can’t get warm.  The loss of health in the arteries causes the heart to be less efficient at getting blood to the extremities of the body which in turn feel cold because they are not getting enough blood that has been warmed by the core of the body. Arteries harden and become less efficient with age but arteriosclerosis can also manifest itself in younger people who live an unhealthy lifestyle.

Arteriosclerosis, if left untreated, can develop into cardiovascular disease which is, of course, very serious.  A doctor will be able to arrange tests to confirm whether or not you are suffering from arteriosclerosis and arrange for you to start on the best treatment regime.

6. You Might Have Cold Sensitive Skin (Pattern Of Blood Vessels)

Cold? Sensitive wrist skin might be your problem.
Cold? Sensitive wrist skin might be your problem.

Our skin is one of the most important organs of the body when it comes to regulating and managing body temperature.  When we are in a cold environment the blood vessels near the surface of our skin contract, this prevents the blood flowing through them from cooling down.  Conversely when we are in a warm environment the blood vessels near the surface of the skin dilate to increase the blood flow and causing us to sweat and therefore to cool down.  This has the effect of conserving body heat (by preventing the blood from getting cold and then making our body core cold in turn) or of shedding body heat.  In effect the blood vessels of our skin work like the heat exchange of a fridge or the radiator of a car.

Take a look at the wrists of a number of people.  In some the blood vessels will be very obvious, in some people so obvious that it is possible to see their wrist pulse beating.  In other people the vessels will be difficult to see and their pulse hard to detect even if it is strong.  People whose blood vessels sit close to the surface of their skin are far more likely to feel cold and find it harder to warm their blood and therefore their body.  Often, of course, how close the vessels are to the surface will be tied into how much weight or otherwise a person carries which ties in to some of the other points made in this article.

5. You Might Have Raynaud’s Syndrome

Bad blood flow and a chill caused by the piano. Maybe that's why I quit when I was 8.
Bad blood flow and a chill caused by the piano. Maybe that’s why I quit when I was 8.

Raynaud’s Syndrome is a condition that affects the arteries, the vessels that carry blood away from your heart to your organs and extremities.  In sufferers of the syndrome exposure to cold can result in what is known as vasospasm, where the arteries constrict, reducing blood flow to the extremities.  Sufferers typically have problems with blood flow to the fingers and toes but some also notice problems with their ears, nose, lips and even, quite unpleasantly, the nipples.   As the blood flow is cut off the affected parts of the body will turn white or blue.  This is unpleasant but the more painful experience is when blood flow returns, turning the fingers or other extremities red, they may burn as the blood returns.

Raynaud’s Syndrome is relatively common, affecting around 5% of the American population (and is probably seen at similar levels in populations worldwide).  While some people are naturally susceptible to Raynaud’s others can develop it over time as they cause damage to their extremities.  People who are engaged in long term repetitive work (playing a musical instrument for example) are easily more susceptible as are those who have damaged a hand or a foot.  Many sufferers of Raynaud’s Syndrome report that they feel cold all the time and have difficulty warming up.  This is not really surprising, after all if your hands and feet are cold the rest of you will feel pretty miserable too!

4. You May Not Be Sleeping Enough

Can't sleep your shivering might be related.
Can’t sleep your shivering might be related.

Have you ever been up all night – either to cram as much last minute revision as possible into your mind before an exam or because you have a bear of a flight that means you cross more time zones than you knew existed over an eye watering period of time.  You may have managed to stay awake on coffee and chocolate but how did you feel in the early hours of the morning?  Our bet is you had to wrap yourself in a warm fleece just to make it through and still shivered!  How did you find that final flight?  You may have been going to some tropical paradise but you almost certainly needed to request that complimentary blanket the stewardess handed out.

Why does this happen?  The answer appears to be down to our circadian rhythms.  Sleep research has shown that our biological clocks are designed to run in tandem with our lifestyles.  Our bodies are designed to be warmer when we are awake and colder when we are asleep, this is why we need warm and cozy bedding to help us feel comfortable at night.  The difference in temperature between the two can be quite significant – up to 2 degrees.  Therefore if you are awake at a time when you would normally be asleep you will end up noticing the temperature difference and feel cold.

Your body can cope with the odd late night but if you are consistently messing with your sleep your body clock will not be able to adjust and you might end up feeling cold at the wrong time.

3. You Might Have A Fungal Infection

Freaky toes and cold. Fungus may be messing with you.
Freaky toes and cold. Fungus may be messing with you.

Yeast, or Candida is present in all our bodies and is essential for digestion and to help us absorb nutrients from food.  Unfortunately from time to time Candida can start to run riot which will lead to a yeast infection.  This can happen for a number of reasons, such as taking antibiotics that can kill off internal bacteria which allows Yeast to spread to take over their place and pregnancy and menstruation can create an environment in which vaginal thrush can thrive.  Diabetics are particularly prone to yeast infections because the yeast likes to feed on the sugar in their systems.  For many people these infections are no more than an inconvenience, an oral or vaginal infection that can be treated with an over the counter medicine.

For other people, however, their yeast infections are never truly healed but remain hidden within the body, exhibiting just enough symptoms to make life very unpleasant but not quite enough for a trip to the doctor or a diagnosis.  Persistent Yeast infections can impact on almost every area and system of the body and one of the key symptoms is an inability to get warm.

If you think you may be suffering from a candida infection then a frank discussion with your doctor can help.  You may need to take an intensive course of antifungals and back that up with a candida cleanse diet – cut out as much sugar as possible including bread and carbohydrates for a period of two weeks and eat live yoghurt or take probiotic supplements to help restore the balance of bacteria and candida in your system.

2. You Might Not Have Enough Energy

Low energy might be making you cold.
Low energy might be making you cold.

We all suffer from stress, it is part and parcel of modern life.  We are stressed from work, from our family and above all from the demands of juggling the two.  Our bodies are designed to handle high stress situations from time to time, we have the reserves to cope.  What we are not designed for, however, is dealing with high levels of stress for long periods of time without a break.

Temperature regulation is a complex system that requires the body to manage a lot of different processes in order for it to work properly.  This requires a lot of energy to maintain.  If a person exists in a state of stress for too long their body will simply run out of the energy they need to cope with day do day functions including maintaining a normal body temperature.  This situation is known as an energy crisis.

You are likely to find yourself in an energy crisis if you have been operating at too high a level of stress for too long.  To exacerbate the problem you may not be eating properly and will almost certainly not Be getting enough sleep.

1. You Might Have Developed A Thyroid Problem

Thyroid disorders might be affecting your internal thermostat.
Thyroid disorders might be affecting your internal thermostat.

The thyroid is a gland situated in the neck that is responsible for producing a number of different hormones that control a range of different bodily functions including metabolism and temperature regulation.  Problems with the thyroid can manifest themselves in a number of different ways including feeling cold all the time.

This symptom is likely to show up in people who suffer from a slow or sluggish thyroid and are not, therefore, producing enough of the hormones required to maintain an efficient temperature management system.  When the thyroid hormones are working properly, they assist cells in metabolizing food for energy – creating 65% energy and 35% heat.  It is this heat that is used to maintain the body temperature.  If your thyroid function is impaired so that this energy/heat conversion becomes less efficient then it is likely that a sufferer will feel cold all the time.  People with a slow thyroid are also likely to notice other symptoms such as excessive tiredness, weight gain, absentmindedness and inability to concentrate.

If you suspect that you are suffering from thyroid problems speak with your physician about running a blood test to check your hormone levels.  If your thyroid is indeed not producing enough of the required hormones, your doctor will prescribe supplements to bring the levels back up to normal.  He or she may also advise on some lifestyle changes which will help manage and mitigate the problem.

 

So there you have our list of the 10 most likely reasons why you feel cold all the time.  It can be pretty depressing reading, as nobody wants to think that they might be suffering from Diabetes or Raynaud’s Syndrome but the good news is that many if not all of these causes can be treated relatively easily.  These 10 causes are not medical mysteries but problems which have been known about for a long time and for which research has identified safe and effective treatments.

In this regard your physician is your friend and you should make an appointment to go and speak with him or her about the cold.  Before you go, try to keep a journal for the week or two leading up to the appointment.  Use the journal to note what you have eaten, what you are wearing, where you are and the ambient air temperature.  Note how other people, dressed similarly to you, claim to be feeling so that you have something to compare it to.  Keep a list of other important points as well.  Note what time you get up and go to sleep and the quality of that sleep, plus details of the food that you have eaten over the course of the day.

All this might seem like hard work but it will help your doctor to narrow down the potential causes of your problem and to decide which tests to run first.