As we age, our metabolism slows down and we lose some of our fat. This can make us more sensitive to cold temperatures. But do you find yourself reaching for a sweater even when the heat is cranked up to 80 degrees? Do you notice you’re the only one shivering among a crowd of people?
Here are some reasons, beyond normal aging, you may be feeling cold indoors:
One of the classic symptoms of hypothyroidism is the inability to get warm. The reason for this is because a healthy thyroid acts as a thermostat for the body; it helps regulate heat. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid doesn’t do its job properly, so it can’t regulate your body heat well. People with hyperthyroidism are more likely to have lower body temperatures. If you’re feeling cold while taking synthetic thyroid hormone, the standard treatment for hypothyroidism, ask your doctor to check your TSH levels. Some people do need a higher dose in the winter, since the thyroid has to work harder to keep you warm.
Anemia is a medical condition where there aren’t enough red blood cells to move oxygen around the body. More than 10 percent of people over age 65 are anemic, and the older you get the more likely you are to have it. Anemia makes you feel tired, weak, and cold. It can also make you look pale and cause an irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, and headaches. Common culprits are iron deficiencies or not enough vitamin B12.
If you think you might be anemic, speak with your doctor. A simple blood test will tell you what your red blood cell and iron levels are. Treatment usually involves taking an iron supplement. You can also add food sources of B12 and iron to your diet. Poultry and fish are good sources of both B12 and iron. Iron is also found in soybeans, chickpeas, and dark green leafy vegetables.
Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes can cause anemia and circulation problems, which can make you feel cold. Uncontrolled diabetes can also cause peripheral neuropathy, which damages the nerves in the extremities. One warning sign of peripheral neuropathy is if your limbs feel cold but are not cold to the touch. You may also experience numbness and pain to your hands or feet. If you have diabetes, talk with your doctor about preventing peripheral neuropathy.
When your kidneys don’t filter your blood as well as they should, you may suffer a host of problems from the dangerous buildup of waste. One of those problems is a lower body temperature. Anemia is also a complication of kidney disease, which will also make you feel cold. Most of kidney disease’s symptoms are non-specific, so it can sometimes be hard to pin down exact symptoms. Some of them include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, changes in urination, swelling of feet, persistent itchiness, and high blood pressure. Speak with your doctor if you think you may have kidney disease. Risk factors include hypertension and type 2 diabetes, so if you have either of those conditions, your doctor is probably already monitoring your kidney.
Medication Side Effects
Some medications make you feel colder. If you’re on a beta blocker for heart disease or a calcium channel blocker and constantly feel cold, speak with your doctor. You may be able to switch to a different drug that doesn’t mess with your body heat, or maybe just lower your does to get relief.
Whether or not you have any of the above conditions, you can try warming up in other ways to take the strain off your body. Here are some things to try:
- You may need to get more sleep during the winter months.
- Avoid going out unnecessarily in very cold weather.
- If you do need to go out, bundle up warmly.
- Try taking a hot bath to warm up.
- Sip hot tea or soup.
- Use electric blankets, heaters, or heating pads to raise your body temperature. Make sure to comply with all safety guidelines when using these products.
- Check your vitamin D levels, and take a supplement if your levels are low. Vitamin D is important for many different functions, including heat regulation.
- Cuddle up with a loved one or pet. Sharing body heat is a wonderfully comforting way to get warm.
Spring is on its way, and once it comes, make sure to get out in the sun. Sunlight will do wonders to warm you up as well!