If you feel cold all the time, you’re not alone.
The thermometer might say 74 degrees, but you could swear it’s somewhere in the mid-50s. Your partner keeps reaching for the air conditioner in the car—but you want to blast the heat. When everyone else is wearing shorts, you’re bundling up.
There are a few reasons why you might be “cold intolerant.” It can be a sign of a medical condition, or it could simply be how you’re wired; regardless, you should understand some of the potential reasons for your temperature sensitivity, especially if it’s affecting your life.
1. First, the obvious: You might be too thin.
If you don’t have much body fat, you don’t have much insulation, and cold temperatures will run right through you. Your body may also have trouble heating itself up if you’re not feeding it enough calories.
While BMI isn’t a perfect indicator, it’s useful for determining if your body weight is affecting temperature sensitivity, so make sure that you’re in a healthy range. This chart should help you figure out where you stand.
2. Iron deficiencies can also cause temperature sensitivities.
If your extremities are especially cold, you might have low levels of iron. When you’re not getting enough iron, your blood has trouble circulating, and you may feel coldness or numbness in your hands and feet as a result.
Make sure that you’re getting enough iron in your diet. Foods like spinach, legumes, and red meats can be an excellent source of iron; make sure that the nutrient is properly absorbed by eating them along with foods rich in vitamin C.
3. Thyroid conditions can also be a cause.
Thyroid conditions affect your metabolism, and your metabolism is the tool your body uses to maintain a consistent temperature. When your thyroid malfunctions, it may produce too much or too little of the hormone that prompts a healthy metabolism.
If you’re experiencing other symptoms such as fatigue, hair loss, and digestive issues, you should consult with your physician to determine whether you’ve got a thyroid condition. In many cases, thyroid issues can be successfully treated with medication or lifestyle changes.
4. Dehydration can also play a role.
To keep your body warm, your body needs to circulate blood efficiently. That’s difficult when you’re not providing it with enough water.
Dehydration may also cause symptoms such as dry skin, fatigue, and headaches. To be safe, make sure that you’re drinking water regularly. Aim for about half a gallon of water per day.
5. You could be experiencing one of the early signs of diabetes.
This is, again, due to circulatory issues, which prevent the extremities from receiving sufficient blood flow. Other symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, blurred vision, and increased thirst.
You’re more susceptible to diabetes if you’re overweight or if you have a family history, but even if you don’t have any of the commonly accepted risk factors, you should get a medical evaluation if you notice any of these symptoms on a recurring basis.
Remember, any medical condition requires a real diagnosis from a physician—never self-diagnose, and never start treatment for a medical condition without a doctor’s approval.