We all feel the cold sometimes – especially in the middle of winter. You can feel cold when your body temperature is raised, as with a fever, or when it’s low, and even when your body temperature is normal. On its own, feeling cold isn’t a problem, but it might be an indication of another underlying issue or ill health, especially if it continues for a long time.
Hypothyroidism and diabetes
The most common reason people feel the cold is due to hypothyroidism. The thyroid gland sits close to your Adam’s apple, and its job is to make the hormones that help the body convert calories into energy that cells can use. However, for about two per cent of the female population, the thyroid gland doesn’t work very well. Men fare better, with only about 0.002 per cent of them suffering from the same problem. Other symptoms include thinning hair, weight gain, pins and needles in the extremities and tiredness. It often affects women of menopausal age. It’s a fairly easy condition to test for, requiring only a blood test, and can be treated easily too, with hormones.
Another major cause of feeling the cold is diabetes. This disease affects many millions of people, particularly the elderly, the overweight, unfit and those who eat a diet high in sugar. There are also cases when diabetes develops because of a genetic predisposition. Depending on the type of diabetes, you may require no medication, just changes to diet and careful monitoring, or you may need to take insulin to regulate the body’s own supply.
Other symptoms of diabetes include extreme thirst, blurred vision, a frequent need to urinate and tiredness.
A common warning sign of a dangerous illness called atherosclerosis is a feeling of coldness, usually restricted to just one side of your body, and often accompanied by cramps. People who experience this should seek medical treatment immediately because it may be an indication that their arteries are furred up with cholesterol, reducing the flow of blood to the major organs and heart. If not treated, this can result in a heart attack or stroke.
Likewise, beta blockers, a medicine that’s prescribed to lower blood pressure and for angina, can also cause coldness in the arms and legs, so it’s worth checking the known side effects of any medicines you might be taking.
One more illness that causes the fingers, toes, ears or nose to tingle and feel numb is Raynaud’s – a condition that mostly affects women. It can be caused by being outside in cold weather or even just by touching something cold, and is usually a symptom of another underlying condition.
If you discover that there is no underlying cause, you might find that you’re feeling cold because your body isn’t receiving enough calories to produce energy. In these cases, the body concentrates its energy on sustaining the core and your vital organs, meaning that blood flow is reduced to the extremities – your hands and feet.