What Is Cold Intolerance? 8 Health Reasons You Might Feel Cold All The Time

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If multiple layers of clothing are your go-to, and you’d prefer to be piled under blankets than pretty much anywhere else, then you might be cold intolerant — essentially, your body has a hard time regulating its temperature. If you’re cold intolerant, you probably feel cold when everyone else in the room feels OK, or the weather outside is pretty warm. And simply piling on (another) sweater doesn't necessarily help. There are many reasons why you might feel cold all the time, and some may be health related.

"The key to regulating your body temperature if you feel cold a lot is to get to the root cause," Dr. Tania Dempsey, MD, tells Bustle via email. "Just putting on a warm sweater and gloves might help a bit, but it won't solve the problem. Many of the causes of low body temperature or feeling cold are completely reversible and treatable. If can be as simple as taking a vitamin, eating more protein and fat, or treating [a] thyroid condition."

So, if you’re that person who cranks the heat up even though you’ve got a bazillion layers on, there might be some health reasons at play. Here are eight reasons why you might always feels cold, according to experts.

1. Anemia

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Anemia is one of the most common reasons why people feel cold all the time, according to Medical Daily. The blood disorder causes a shortage of red blood cells, which help regulate body temperature.

"Anemia, or low red blood cell counts, can result from deficiencies in iron or vitamin B12, or can be caused by loss of blood or chronic diseases," Dr. Dempsey says. "Any correctable form of anemia should be treated. If your iron levels are low, you might need to take an iron supplement or eat foods high in iron. Low iron levels can contribute to hypothyroidism, and combined can cause you to feel really cold. These are things that can be tested for in blood tests by your doctor."

2. Anxiety Disorders

Feeling chronically cold can be a symptom of anxiety, Prevention notes, since anxiety is linked to the 'fight or flight' response. If your body is reacting to perceived danger (or feelings of danger), blood flow is redirected toward the core organs in order to protect them, and away from the extremities like your hands and feet. If you're shivering and anxious at the same time, fight or flight might be the reason why.

3. Thyroid Issues

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Cold intolerance is a typical symptom of low thyroid hormone levels, or hypothyroidism, says Medical Daily. Since your body doesn't make enough body temperature-regulating hormones when the thyroid is underperforming, cold intolerance is common if you have this disorder.

"The thyroid gland controls our internal thermometer and thus maintains our body temperature," says Dr. Dempsey. "If the thyroid doesn't produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormone, it can lead to cold intolerance and feeling cold even when people around you don't."

4. Diabetes

Cold sensitivity is frequently found in people who manage diabetes, Medical Lifestyle News reports. Poor circulation can contribute to cold intolerance in diabetics, in addition to nerve problems that can increase cold sensitivity.

5. Raynaud's Disease & Vascular Disorders

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Medical conditions that cause vascular issues (or problems with your blood vessels), like Raynaud's disease, can make you feel like you're always freezing, Healthline says. Since blood flow to your extremities is restricted with vascular disorders, you might develop cold intolerance as a result.

6. Fibromyalgia & ME/CFS

Cold sensitivity is a common symptom of fibromyalgia and ME/CFS, notes Verywell Health. Some research suggests that abnormalities in the autonomic nervous system, which helps maintain your body's homeostasis, might contribute to temperature sensitivity in people with these conditions.

7. Low Blood Pressure

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Low blood pressure, otherwise known as hypotension, might contribute to various health issues, says The Guardian. If you have hypotension, then you might feel more sensitive to cold temperatures. According to Medical Daily, low blood pressure means that less blood and oxygen are flowing to your organs and extremities, which can make you feel chronically cold. Adrenal insufficiency, hypothyroidism, and over-medication for high blood pressure, are the most common causes of hypotension, The Guardian notes.

8. Not Getting Enough Sleep

Chronic sleep deprivation can disrupt your body's ability to regulate body heat, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine says. Going without sleep on the regular can cause a number of health issues, according to Dr. Dempsey, and symptoms can include feeling cold all the time.

"Chronic lack of sleep can slow the metabolism down and decrease energy production, which has a profound effect on body temperature. Some studies show that sleep deprivation may slow down the activity of hypothalamus in the brain, which also regulates body temperature," Dr. Dempsey says. "This is just one more reason to make sure that you are getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night."

Everyone is a little different, and just because you tend to feel cold a lot doesn't necessarily mean that anything is wrong. But if your cold intolerance is nagging or extreme, or it's accompanied by other symptoms, it's probably smart to check in with your doctor to make sure no underlying health conditions are contributing to your cold sensitivity.