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Why Am I Cold?

Do you find yourself shivering when no one else is? Although you might just have a natural tendency to be cold, there are also a variety of conditions that could explain your chill.

Could It Be Anemia?

Anemia happens when your system can't make enough normal red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body. There are a number of different types of anemia. A tendency to feel cold is a common symptom for many of them.

Other symptoms of anemia:

  • Fatigue
  • Looking pale
  • Irregular heartbeats

Could It Be Hypothyroidism?

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck. It helps to regulate your metabolism -- the chemical reactions that maintain the body. If this gland does not make enough thyroid hormone, or if your body cannot process that hormone effectively, you may become hypothyroid.

Besides feeling cold, other symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Thinning hair
  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular or heavy menstrual periods
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain

Could It Be a Blood Vessel Problem?

If you feel cold in your hands and feet, you may have a blood vessel disorder in which blood flow to your arms and legs is restricted.

Blood vessel problems include conditions such as:

  • Clotting disorders
  • Arteriosclerosis (narrowing of blood vessels)
  • Raynaud's disease (spasms of narrowing arteries to the fingers and toes)

Besides feeling cold, symptoms of blood vessel problems include:

  • White or blue coloring in fingers and toes
  • Tingling, throbbing, or numbness in your arms and legs
  • Clammy and cold skin

Could It Be Diabetes?

The kidney damage that happens as a result of diabetes is known as diabetic nephropathy. One symptom of diabetic nephropathy is feeling cold all the time.

Other symptoms of diabetic nephropathy include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Itchiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Swelling in the face, feet or hands

Could It Be Anorexia?

This is a type of eating disorder. People with anorexia become dangerously thin because of an extreme worry about gaining weight.

Feeling cold is one of the symptoms of having anorexia. Other symptoms:

  • You are 15% or more below typical body weight for your height
  • You are constantly thinking about your weight
  • You have not had a period for three months or more

What Should I Do About My Coldness?

Since feeling cold all the time can be a sign of a more serious medical condition, it's important not to ignore these symptoms.

If you feel cold frequently even when you're in a warm place, or long after you've come in from cold temperatures, check with your doctor to find out what might be going on.

The treatment for your chronic coldness will depend a lot on the cause. For example, if you have a blood vessel disorder and you smoke, quitting smoking will probably go a long way toward helping with the problem. If your feelings of constant coldness are caused by a thyroid condition, on the other hand, you may need medication to reverse your low thyroid.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on January 09, 2014

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