Why Am I Always Cold?

Have you ever shared an office or home with someone who cranks the heat, even on a summer day? Or maybe you’re the one who’s always freezing, blasting a space heater beneath your desk in July. Being cold all the time is no fun, especially when it’s hard to put your icy finger on the cause.

woman bundled up in hat and mittens inside

Cold sensitivity may be due to a variety of factors. Here are some potential reasons you may feel colder than the average person.

  • Calorie Consumption. You may be cold because you don’t consume enough calories to metabolize food into the energy your body needs, Aim for the recommended amount of calories for your age, gender and activity level.
  • Activity Levels. Physical exercise gets blood flowing to your muscles, increasing your body temperature. Try walking, working out with weights or getting up from your desk every hour for an office stroll.
  • Lower Muscle Mass. Men on average have more muscle mass than women. This may be one reason why men generally “run hotter” than women. Muscle mass affects your body’s metabolism; the more you have, the warmer you will feel.
  • Underweight. As mentioned above, you need proper muscle mass to stay warm, but you also need a certain amount of body fat. Older adults often struggle with this condition.
  • Smoking Habits: Inhaling cigarette smoke increases your risk for peripheral artery disease (PAD), a common circulatory problem that slows blood flow to extremities, causing your legs or feet to be cold, numb or weak. Ask your doctor about getting help to quit smoking.

Feeling chilled may also be a sign of a medical issue, though keep in mind that such conditions would likely come with a number of other symptoms, as well. Two of the more common medical reasons for cold sensitivity are:

  • Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is a condition in which the thyroid doesn’t produce enough of the important hormones your body needs. In its mild form, it affects up to 10 to 15 percent of Americans, and it is most common among postmenopausal women. Other symptoms of the disorder include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, dry skin and a puffy face.
  • Anemia. This blood disorder reduces hemoglobin, an essential oxygen-transporting protein. Anemia can develop if you don’t get enough iron or vitamin B12 in your diet or if you have a chronic disease, such as cancer, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis or kidney disease. Women with heavy periods are at greater risk, along with people over 65 and those on blood thinner medication. Other symptoms of anemia include fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, pale skin and headache.

The best way to find out why you’re always cold is to visit your doctor, who can recommend lifestyle changes or other treatment to warm up your world.