If it seems like you’re always seeking out sun spots in the office or are layering on thick sweaters while everyone else wants to keep the A/C nice and cool, it’s tempting to point fingers at the thermostat (or whoever controls it). Sure, the landlord can be cheap with the building’s heat, or That Person Who’s Always Hot is constantly cranking up the A/C in the office, but if your chills follow you from building to building, there might be an underlying medical reason you always feel cold.
First of all, science backs the claim that cold intolerance could be a man/woman issue. A 2010 study of 1,810 participants found that “thermal discomfort” was 4.5 times more common among women than men.
But besides your biology, here are possible medical explanations you feel cold.
You have a low body weight. In the same 2010 study, cold sensitivity was most common among younger women with a lower BMI, or body mass index. Body fat can help regulate temperature and produce body heat. Talk to a doctor if you are concerned about your current weight or eating patterns.
You have hypothyroidism. Feeling cold is a common sign of having a sluggish thyroid. The thyroid gland produces hormones that help the body run normally. An underactive thyroid can cause many of the body’s everyday functions—such as regulating mood, digestion, or body temperature—to slow down or become less effective, according to the American Thyroid Association. Learn more about how the thyroid gland supports a healthy body here.
You have poor blood circulation. This may be caused by a number of issues, some of the most common being diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Because blood doesn’t travel throughout the body as well as it should, organs aren’t getting their ideal amount of oxygen and can’t properly regulate temps. Typically, poor blood circulation will cause coldness in the feet.
You have anemia. A condition that occurs when you lack enough healthy red blood cells, anemia deprives oxygen-rich blood from circulating to the organs and keeping the bod functioning smoothly. This is another medical reason you could feel cold all the time.
You have a vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is responsible for maintaining a healthy nerve and blood cell system. This nutritional pitfall often leads to weight loss and megaloblastic anemia, both of which can influence cold sensitivity. You can find vitamin B12 in animal-based foods and fortified foods like cereals, nutritional yeast, and nut milks.
You’re not getting enough sleep. As if crabbiness and exhaustion weren’t bad enough, scientists have linked sleep deprivation with a reduced ability to regulate your body temperature—even in a room that’s considered an ideal temperature. Here are lifestyle habits that can affect your quality of sleep.
You have fibromyalgia. This condition may be commonly associated with chronic pain, but studies suggest fibromyalgia may similarly cause sensitivity to temperatures (hot or cold). Learn more about what fibromyalgia is and how it affects the body here.
You have issues with your blood vessels. One possibility of why you always feel cold is Raynaud’s syndrome, a rare disorder that causes occasional vasospasms, or narrowing of the arteries. Vasospasms are triggered by either stress or a mild to moderate change in temperatures. They cut down the flow of blood to the fingers and toes. During these attacks, fingers and toes may feel numb or cold, and appear pale and then blue—similar to frostbite.
Some of these medical reasons for being cold can be serious, so talking to your doctor is a better action plan than simply always traveling with a sweater.