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Doctor Q&A: Why Am I Always So Cold?

person under a blanket in bed holding a mug

If you find yourself bundling up when everyone else is comfortable, it’s important to do more than grab an extra blanket! Feeling cold all the time can indicate underlying health issues, including nutrient deficiencies, hormone imbalances, or thyroid dysfunction. Read on to find other symptoms of these common concerns and steps you can take to stay warm.

Why Am I Always Cold?

Everyone feels chilly when the temperature drops. But do you find yourself reaching for a sweater when everyone else seems fine? Do you wear extra layers, even in the sunshine? Feeling cold constantly can be more than a frustrating inconvenience - it can be a sign of health issues that need to be addressed.

In this Q&A blog, our functional medicine doctors review the most common culprits for all those shivers and explore potential testing and solutions to help you stay warm and cozy.

Common Causes of Feeling Cold

1) Hypothyroidism

Low levels of thyroid hormones can lead to a sluggish metabolism, making you feel cold regardless of the weather. Other common symptoms of poor thyroid function include:

  • Fatigue that isn’t helped by sleep
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Thinning eyebrows
  • Dry skin
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Constipation

If those symptoms sound familiar, you can expect your physician to order some common lab tests, including:

  • Complete thyroid panel with free T3, free T4, and reverse T3
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP)

Based on your results, they may prescribe synthetic thyroid or supplements that offer thyroid support, including iodine, zinc, selenium, magnesium, B vitamins, or iron. We also recommend our patients with hypothyroidism make diet and lifestyle changes to help encourage healthy thyroid function and address any inflammation.

No matter what the cause of your symptoms, you’ll see benefits from an anti-inflammatory diet free of grains, dairy, and sugar, with plenty of leafy greens. It’s also important to maintain adequate protein intake (at least 1/2 to 1 gram of protein daily per pound of body weight) and practice good sleep hygiene.

2) Adrenal Dysfunction

Like your thyroid, your adrenal glands secrete hormones that are important to your metabolism and ability to regulate your temperature. Prolonged periods of stress and certain medications can wreak havoc with your adrenal function. In addition to feeling cold, you may experience:

  • Brain fog
  • Extreme fatigue, especially in the afternoon
  • Weight gain, particularly around your middle
  • Muscle weakness
  • Trouble with sleep
  • Dizziness or heart palpitations
  • Salt cravings
  • Digestive problems

If you suspect adrenal issues, your physician may run lab tests, including:

  • Saliva or urine cortisol testing
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP)

Adding B vitamins, magnesium, and adaptogens can offer relief, as can changes to your diet and lifestyle. Once again, an anti-inflammatory diet and positive sleep habits are a must. It’s also key to reduce stress as much as possible and use techniques like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and vagus nerve therapy such as gammaCore.

woman lying in bed facing the ceiling with her eyes closed

3) Anemia & Nutrient Deficiencies

There are a number of common nutrient deficiencies that cause anemia. Anemia is a condition in which there are not enough red blood cells or a decreased ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. That can lead to symptoms including coldness, as well as:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Low blood pressure
  • Restless legs
  • Dizziness

The most common deficiencies are iron, vitamin B12, and folate. If you or your healthcare practitioner suspect your coldness is due to a nutrient deficiency, you can expect lab work including:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP)
  • Specific nutrient testing, including vitamin D, B12, folate, and/or iron

Supplementing with the nutrients you need is the priority, as is an anti-inflammatory diet and plenty of rest. It’s also important to examine any lifestyle factors or health conditions that may have contributed to your anemia.

4) Autonomic Dysfunction

Autonomic dysfunction, also known as autonomic nervous system (ANS) dysfunction or dysautonomia, is a broad term that refers to a group of medical conditions in which the ANS poorly regulates involuntary bodily functions. The autonomic nervous system plays a crucial role in maintaining the body's internal balance by controlling functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, breathing, and temperature regulation. As a result of autonomic dysfunction, you may feel extremely cold or hot, as well as:

  • Brain fog or trouble focusing
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Low or fluctuating blood pressure
  • Sweating abnormalities
  • Sleep problems
  • Urinary frequency, urgency, or difficulty controlling bladder function
  • Fatigue and a general sense of unwellness
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting upon standing up (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, or POTS, is the most well-known version of this.)

In addition to comprehensive lab work, your doctor may order tilt table testing or Holter monitoring for suspected POTS.

red light therapy patient model receiving treatment wearing an eye mask

At The Center for Fully Functional Health, we also recommend patients with any of the above conditions schedule regular Red Light Therapy with PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Frequency) and IV Therapy. Both Integrative Medicine modalities have shown significant success in reducing inflammation, boosting immunity, and improving healing.

If you’re local to Carmel, IN, and tired of feeling so cold, please fill out the contact form below or call us at (317) 989-8463 to schedule an appointment. Our friendly Patient Support team can help you decide which appointment or service package might be right for your symptoms.

Schedule an Appointment Today.

The Center for Fully Functional Health® is led by a team of award-winning, internationally recognized physicians, committed to providing personalized, life-changing care.

40 North Rangeline Rd. Carmel, IN 46032

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