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, reaching for a heated blanket in July.

Feeling cold all the time is no fun, especially when it’s hard to determine the cause. If you’re experiencing cold sensitivity, it may be due to a number of factors.

Here are some potential reasons you may feel colder than the average person:

  • Calorie consumption: You may be cold because you aren’t consuming enough calories to metabolize food into the energy your body needs. Aim for the recommended number of calories, based on your age, gender and activity level.
  • Staying active: 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.
  • 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.
  • Body fat: In addition to needing the proper muscle mass and calorie consumption to stay warm, 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 chilly 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. Consult your primary care physician if you have concerns.

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. This can create an increased sensitivity to feeling cold. In its mild form, it affects nearly 5 out of 100 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 — when you’re lacking oxygen, you may feel cold. 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. Anemia affects 2 billion people around the globe. Women with heavy periods are at greater risk, along with people over 65 and those on blood thinner medication. Signs and symptoms of anemia include feeling tired or cold, shortness of breath, dizziness or weakness, pale skin, elevated heartbeat 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 help you stay warm — no matter the time of year.