What causes cold intolerance? 9 possible conditions
Cold intolerance is when you are extremely sensitive to cold temperatures. Cold intolerance is more severe than the normal feeling of chilliness when you are outdoors on a cool day.
Some people are prone to feeling cold, especially those who have chronic health problems or little body fat. If you have cold intolerance, you will likely find yourself complaining of cold when others around you are comfortable or even too warm.
See your doctor for an evaluation if you have no history of cold intolerance and the problem of feeling cold persists. Your treatment will depend on your diagnosis.
Cold intolerance could be due to a lack of body fat, chronic illness, or poor overall health. It could also be a symptom of a variety of health conditions, including:
- anemia (a lack of healthy red blood cells)
- anorexia (an eating disorder leading to loss of body fat)
- hypothyroidism (the thyroid does not make enough thyroid hormones)
- blood vessel (vascular) problems, including Reynaud’s syndrome
- disorders of the hypothalamus (an area of the brain that produces hormones that control body temperature)
- fibromyalgia (a condition causing body-wide pain and discomfort)
If this is a new symptom, and it is not getting better, you should make an appointment for a complete medical examination. Your doctor will take a medical history and ask you some questions, including:
- Do you have any previously diagnosed conditions?
- Do you take prescription or over-the-counter medications or supplements?
- When did you begin to have cold intolerance?
- Are your symptoms getting worse?
- Are there times you complain of being cold when others around you do not?
- Do you have any other symptoms?
- Are you eating well and exercising regularly?
Depending on the outcome of a physical exam, your doctor may order additional tests, including blood tests and hormone level tests to determine if you have any underlying diseases.
Cold intolerance is not an illness. It is a symptom of an underlying condition. Your treatment will depend entirely on the diagnosis you receive from your doctor.
If you have anemia, treatment will be based on the cause of the anemia. This may include taking iron supplements.
Treating anorexia is a long-term process. Medications may be used to address specific symptoms. The support of a complete medical team, including nutrition and healthy lifestyle experts, is generally needed. Psychological counseling and support groups are also recommended.
Hypothyroidism is treated with oral synthetic hormones that are taken daily. Treatment is usually lifelong, but dosages may be adjusted periodically.
Vascular problems can be treated in a variety of ways, depending on the cause. Surgery and medication may be used.
Disorders of the Hypothalamus
Disorders of the hypothalamus will be treated based on the specific cause. Treatment includes surgery or radiation for tumors, hormones replacement, or procedures to stop bleeding or infection.
Treatment for fibromyalgia is generally targeted toward symptom relief. Options include medications for pain, physical therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Support groups are recommended.
- Anemia (2002, October 1). American Academy of Family Physicians. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/anemia.printerview.all.html
- Anorexia nervosa (2012, February 13). National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000362.htm
- Cold intolerance (2012, June 1). PubMed Health. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0003584
- Fibromyalgia (2011, February 14). PubMed Health. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001463
- Hypothalamic dysfunction (2011, December 11). National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001202.htm
- Hypothyroidism (2010), June 12). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hypothyroidism/ds00353/dsection=treatments-and-drugs
- Raynaud’s disease (2011, October 20). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/raynauds-disease/DS00433/METHOD=print
See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.
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