Are you always the one grabbing a sweater even in hot weather? Do you have a blanket at the ready in case you feel chilled? You may simply be that person who feels cold even in warm weather but why? Is it something just in your head or is it something more serious?
How our body maintains body temperature
The intricacies of the human body are truly amazing. Take for example the complicated temperature-regulating mechanism our body has keeping our body temperature just right for best functioning, not too hot and not too cold. Much like a thermostat regulates the temperature inside our homes, a small but mighty area of the brain called the hypothalamus, is the commander-in-chief regulating body temperature. It does so by responding to internal and external stimuli and then makes adjustments keeping the body within one or two degrees of 98.6 degrees.
However, some people, they experience a feeling of coldness regularly for various reasons. Sometimes it’s because of underlying conditions or may be due to simply growing older.
If you are someone who tends to feel cold even when it’s hot indoors or outside, here are possible reasons why:
A person with anemia does not have enough red blood cells circulating and carrying oxygen throughout the body. Typical symptoms of anemia may include pale skin, weakness or fatigue, and lightheadedness. But another symptom may be feeling cold, especially in the hands or feet. Because of fewer red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body, the extremities of the body will likely feel colder than the core.
The master regulator of metabolism is the butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck known as the thyroid gland. If thyroid hormones levels are low – known as hypothyroidism – the thermostat of the body has been turned down making a person feel cold even in a warm room or outdoors in warm weather.
Peripheral artery disease
Cold hands and feet could be a sign of a condition called peripheral artery disease or PAD. People with PAD often find that even donning cozy socks, sitting by a fireplace, or soaking in a hot bath, they still struggle to keep their hands or feet warm. PAD is a serious circulatory condition caused by narrowed arteries due to fatty deposits and plaques that have accumulated along the artery walls leading to the legs and arms reducing blood flow. Reduced blood flow due to PAD can result in pain, numbness, and chilled hands and feet.
In this condition, the reaction to cold becomes exaggerated. Blood vessels in the extremities, especially the fingertips, constrict causing the fingertips to feel cold and turn blue or white due to reduced blood flow.
The aging effect
Feeling colder as you get older? It’s not uncommon as there are many age-related explanations for this. However, it’s unlikely because your core temperature has changed over the years. So if that hasn’t changed, then what has? A common reason is that your metabolism slows as you age. It’s normal for the metabolic rate to reduce and along with it, the body’s response to the cold. For example, certain body receptors may not work as quickly to tell your blood vessels to constrict and maintain body temperature.
Older adults also have a thinner layer of fat under the skin. Having a fat layer conserves body heat but as that these fat layers begin to diminish, you’re more susceptible to cold. People with diabetes, peripheral artery disease, and kidney disease can experience restricted blood flow lowering body temperature. In addition, blood vessels lose elasticity with age. When blood vessels are not as flexible, circulation decreases making it harder for the body to retain heat. This often results in hands and feet feeling extra cold, even in a warm environment.
Frequently feeling cold? Speak to your doctor
Like with any bodily change that is troubling, feeling more cold than usual should be addressed with your doctor. It could simply change due to aging or it might be a reason to check for an underactive thyroid or anemia.
If the cause is due to an underlying health condition, getting it treated and managed well may do the trick in keeping you warmer. Otherwise, try becoming more physically active by walking more to improve blood circulation and raise body temperature. Or keep a sweater handy just in case.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board-certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.