Ever wondered why some people wrap themselves up in layers of clothing, when others appear to be comfortable in light clothes? Why do people have different reactions to the same environmental stimulus? Well, a person's response to cold could be influenced by many factors. It not only depends on the climatic conditions, but also on how a person perceives the environment. Women in particular, and people who have less body fat are more likely to experience an increased sensitivity to cold. Certain medical conditions could also make a person susceptible to cold intolerance.
Why Do Some People Always Feel Cold?
The human body employs various mechanisms to stabilize the core body temperature, thereby protecting itself from harsh weather. However, the body's response or sensitivity towards cold might vary from person to person. In fact, a lot depends on a person's overall health. There are certain medical conditions that may alter a person's response to cold.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Unhealthy dietary habits can certainly affect the way a person's body reacts to cold. Since food is the source of energy, our body tries to conserve energy whenever we skip a meal. If a person often skips his/her meals, it not only leads to weight loss, but also causes nutritional deficiencies. People who have poor dietary habits may develop an increased sensitivity to cold due to nutritional deficiencies. For instance, a vitamin B12 deficiency is likely to cause cold intolerance.
Increased sensitivity to cold, pale skin, sore tongue, rapid heartbeat, weakness, lightheadedness, weight loss, and stomach upset are some of the symptoms that may be experienced by the affected individual.
What Can be Done: The affected individual should consume foods that are rich in vitamin B12. Eggs, poultry, meat, fish, milk, and fortified cereals are some of the dietary sources of vitamin B12. The use of vitamin supplements would prove to be beneficial for those who suffer from a severe deficiency. Since the deficiency of vitamin B12 could be caused by certain medical conditions, it would be best to consult a doctor to ascertain the underlying cause and have it treated.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder wherein the affected individual has an intense fear of gaining weight. Such people starve themselves in order to lose weight. Those who are affected by this disorder are definitely more likely to be sensitive to cold due to the self-induced weight loss. It is the muscle mass and layers of fat that keep us warm and cozy. While larger muscle mass will generate more heat, fat will help in retaining the body heat. Thus, people who are underweight may experience an increased sensitivity to cold.
Besides cold intolerance, such individuals are likely to experience symptoms such as poor memory, slow thinking, dry mouth, and yellowing of the skin.
What Can be Done: In case of people who are anorexic, proper treatment is required to tackle the issue of distorted body image and fear that causes the affected individuals to limit their diet or intentionally throw up after meals. Those who are underweight would experience a change in their body's reaction to cold, if they put on some weight. Inculcating healthy eating habits is an integral part of the treatment. In case of unexplained weight loss, medical assistance must be sought to ascertain the underlying cause.
As mentioned earlier, increased sensitivity to cold may be triggered by an underlying medical condition. Hypothyroidism is one such condition that is mainly responsible for making a person more sensitive to cold. A person is diagnosed with this condition when the thyroid gland is unable to secrete the required amounts of thyroid hormones. Since thyroid hormones play a vital role in temperature regulation, low levels of thyroid hormones is quite likely to cause cold intolerance.
The other symptoms of this thyroid problem include weight gain, dry skin, muscle weakness, fatigue, facial swelling, impaired memory, slowed heart rate, constipation, etc.
What Can be Done: The treatment involves the use of synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine. The dosage of levothyroxine would vary, depending on the level of thyroid hormones. The levels of T3, T4, and TSH must therefore be monitored at regular intervals.
Anemia is a medical condition which is characterized by a decrease in the number of healthy red blood cells in the body. The red blood cells perform a vital function of carrying oxygen to the tissues. In case of anemics, the red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be replaced. Anemia can also affect blood circulation. When blood circulation in the extremities is adversely affected, one may complain of having cold feet and hands.
Besides feeling cold all the time, the affected individual is likely to experience symptoms such as pale skin, lightheadedness, poor concentration, cognitive problems, shortness of breath, and headaches.
What Can be Done: The treatment of anemia involves raising the red blood cell count. This can be done by making certain lifestyle-related changes. The affected individual must include the sources of iron, vitamin B12, folic acid, and vitamin C to his/her diet. Blood transfusions may be required in severe cases. Since anemia could be caused by thyroid problems, chronic kidney disease, bone marrow problems, and stem cell problems, it would be best to consult a doctor for identifying the cause of anemia.
This is a medical condition that can be triggered by cold weather or emotional stress. It could affect people who suffer from autoimmune conditions. Women who are in the age group of 20 to 40 years, are at a greater risk of developing this condition. People who suffer from this condition are extremely sensitive to cold, and react to the slightest change in the temperature.
During an attack, the patient's blood vessels become constricted, thereby affecting the blood circulation adversely. The affected area could turn white. It may become blue when oxygen is unable to reach the extremities due to the narrowing of the blood vessels. One of the most common symptoms of Raynaud's disease is a tingling sensation in the fingers and toes.
What Can be Done: The treatment involves the use of vasodilators, calcium channel blockers, or angiotensin II inhibitors. Avoidance of the trigger is also an integral part of the treatment.
The inevitable process of aging brings about a lot of changes in the body. As people age, their immune system may weaken. This could increase their sensitivity towards cold. The mechanisms that the body usually employs to stay warm may get affected due to poor health. For instance, older women are more likely to get affected by hypothyroidism. Menopausal women are likely to feel cold all the time due to the fluctuation in the levels of estrogen.
What Can be Done: A combination of drug therapy, dietary modifications, and other lifestyle-related changes would help in treating the underlying cause.
While wrapping yourself up in layers of clothing may help to insulate the body heat to some extent, it would be better to find a permanent solution to this problem. Doctors can suggest a treatment plan only after the underlying cause behind increased sensitivity to cold has been ascertained. Therefore, it would be best to undergo a thorough medical checkup at the earliest.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.