Constantly feeling cold is not only uncomfortable, but it could be a sign of one of these underlying health problems.

Some people may feel colder than others without any cause. However, always feeling cold may indicate an underlying medical condition, such as hypothyroidism, anemia, or poor circulation.

It’s normal to feel cold in cold climates, but there may be an underlying cause if you always feel cold. Here are nine possible reasons why you are constantly feeling cold.

1. Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder, often causes cold intolerance. People with anorexia nervosa fear gaining weight.

As a result, they may engage in extreme weight loss behaviors, like too much diet and exercise. Body weight and muscle loss make people with anorexia nervosa sensitive to cold temperatures.1

Other anorexia nervosa symptoms include:1

  • Depression
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry, blotchy, yellowing skin
  • Fine hair that covers the skin
  • Poor memory
  • Thinning bones
  • Trouble thinking

What To Do

Treatment for anorexia nervosa focuses on maintaining healthy body weight and practicing safe eating and exercise habits.

Some people with anorexia nervosa may require a hospital or in-patient stay that helps them develop an eating schedule and reduce physical activity. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or talk therapy, helps encourage a healthy relationship with diet end exercise.

2. Beta Blockers

Beta blockers like metoprolol may affect how much blood reaches your hands and feet, making them feel cold. These medicines slow down your heart, improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure.2

What To Do

Consult a healthcare provider to discuss whether you ought to switch medications if you suspect beta blockers make you feel cold. In the meantime, keep your hands and feet warm by wearing heavy gloves and socks.

3. Blood Sugar Conditions

Peripheral neuropathy, which damages the nerves in your hands and feet, is a complication of untreated high blood sugar.3

“When [peripheral neuropathy] develops, you experience numbness and sometimes pain in the hands and feet,” Margarita Rohr, MD, an internist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, told Health. “Since these nerves are also responsible for sending messages to the brain regarding temperature sensation, your hands and feet may feel cold.”

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, may cause chills.4 People with diabetes may develop hypoglycemia if they take too much insulin or are not eating enough carbs.5

Other causes of hypoglycemia include:5

  • An imbalanced diet
  • Going too long without eating
  • Menstruation

People with hypoglycemia may also have blurry vision, confusion, and weakness.5

What To Do

Peripheral nephropathy develops gradually. You may not realize you have it.6 See a healthcare provider if you have been diagnosed with or have symptoms of diabetes like blurry vision, extreme thirst, and frequent urination.7

Controlling your blood sugar helps avoid peripheral nephropathy if you have diabetes.8 You can regulate your blood sugar by eating a balanced diet, exercising, and taking diabetes medicine as prescribed by a healthcare provider.9

If you think your blood sugar is low, eat 15 grams of carbs, or four ounces of juice or one tablespoon of honey. Then, check your blood sugar level after 15 minutes.4 Simply reassess whether you feel better if you do not have diabetes.

Have another serving of carbs if your blood sugar is still low. Repeat those steps until you feel better. Contact a healthcare provider if you have ongoing hypoglycemia symptoms.4

4. Dehydration

Not being able to warm up may be a sign that you need to drink more water. Water, which helps regulate your body temperature, makes up more than two-thirds of your body weight.10

“If you’re adequately hydrated, water will trap heat and release it slowly, keeping your body temperature in a comfortable zone,” Maggie Moon, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Los Angeles, told Health. “With less water, your body is more sensitive to extreme temperatures.”

Beyond feeling chilly, other dehydration symptoms include:11

  • Confusion
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth and skin
  • Sweating and urinating less than normal
  • Tiredness

What To Do

Replenish lost electrolytes and fluids right away if you are dehydrated. You can treat mild dehydration symptoms by drinking water or sports drinks. In severe cases, you may require intravenous (IV) fluids.11

You can prevent dehydration by consuming 91–125 fluid ounces of water daily.10 You can meet your hydration goals by consuming water from foods like fruits and vegetables. Eating soup and drinking juice, tea, and water can help, too.

You may need more water depending on your activity level, age, health conditions, and weight. Consult a healthcare provider about how much water you need to stay hydrated.10

5. Hypothyroidism

Always being cold is a common symptom of hypothyroidism, which means your thyroid secretes low levels of thyroid hormone. Nearly 5% of people in the United States have hypothyroidism.12

Your metabolism slows without the right thyroid hormone level, preventing you from generating enough heat.13

Other hypothyroidism symptoms include:14

  • Dry hair and skin
  • Hair loss or thinning hair
  • Heavier or more irregular periods than usual
  • Unexplained weight gain

What To Do

Medications, which replace the thyroid hormone that your body does not make, treat hypothyroidism. A healthcare provider can adjust your dose by measuring the amount of thyroid hormone in your blood.

A healthcare provider may advise avoiding foods with iodine. Consult a healthcare provider about your iodine needs if you are pregnant. Pregnant people need more iodine than usual in their diet.14

6. Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Iron-deficiency anemia is one of the most common culprits of constantly feeling cold.15

Iron helps your red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body to produce heat.16 Low iron can slow thyroid functioning, leading to hypothyroidism and making you feel cold, said Moon.

Other iron-deficiency anemia symptoms include:15

  • Brittle nails
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath

What To Do

Consult a healthcare provider if you have low iron symptoms. They can check your iron level with a blood test.17

A healthcare provider may advise upping your intake of iron-rich foods like:17

  • Baked beans
  • Chicken
  • Chickpeas
  • Dried beans, lentils, and peas
  • Fish
  • Liver
  • Soybeans
  • Turkey
  • Whole-grain bread

Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron. Try eating broccoli, strawberries, oranges, or tomatoes with iron-rich foods.

Healthcare providers may advise taking iron supplements to boost your iron levels. They may administer iron through an injection or IV if you cannot take oral supplements.

Consult a healthcare provider if you are pregnant. Pregnant people need more iron than usual in their diet.17

7. Lack of Sleep

Not getting enough sleep wreaks havoc on your nervous system, which may alter your body systems that regulate body temperature.

Research has found that a lack of sleep can adversely impact your metabolism.18 Having metabolic dysfunction may lead to feeling cold.19

What To Do

Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep per night.20

Try some of the following tips to help get a good night’s rest:20

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine during the late afternoon and evening.
  • Do not exercise too close to bedtime.
  • Avoid eating large meals or drinking a lot of liquids at night.
  • Limit naps, especially during the late afternoon and evening.
  • Unwind by listening to calming music, reading a book, or taking a bath.
  • Maintain a cool temperature in your bedroom.
  • Limit electronics, lights, and loud noises before bedtime.
  • Get plenty of sunlight during the day.
  • Try relaxing activities if you cannot sleep after 20 minutes.

Consult a healthcare provider if you still have trouble sleeping after adjusting your sleep habits. You may have insomnia, sleep apnea, or another sleep disorder. A healthcare provider may perform a sleep study or prescribe medicine to help you sleep.20

8. Low Body Weight

Low body weight—which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines as having a body mass index (BMI) below 18.5—can make you feel cold.21

You lack enough body fat to insulate you from cold temperatures if you are underweight, said Moon. A low BMI may mean you have less fatty tissue, which can cause your body to produce less heat.22

Having a low body weight may mean you have low muscle mass, which could also contribute to your chilliness. Muscle mass helps maintain body temperature by producing heat, said Dr. Rohr.

What To Do

Talk to a healthcare provider if you are underweight. They can run tests to see what’s causing your low body weight.

A healthcare provider may suggest gaining weight by eating a balanced, healthy diet of carbs, fat, and protein.23 Incorporating weight-bearing exercises into your workout regimen helps build muscle.24

9. Poor Circulation

A circulation problem that keeps blood from reaching your extremities may be the culprit if your hands and feet feel cold, but other body parts feel warm.

For example, Raynaud’s disease causes the blood vessels in your hands and feet to narrow temporarily when they sense cold.25

Heart disease and smoking may also cause circulation problems. Heart disease causes your heart to not pump as effectively, and smoking constricts blood vessels, noted Dr. Rohr.

What To Do

A healthcare provider can figure out the cause of your circulation problems and rule out heart disease.

Certain medications help with circulation by keeping your blood vessels from narrowing if you have Raynaud’s disease.25

Other at-home treatments for Raynaud’s disease include:25

  • Avoiding cold temperatures
  • Keeping your hands and feet warm in cold environments by wearing heavy gloves or socks
  • Soaking your hands in warm water during a flare

10. Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) happens if fatty substances build up in your peripheral arteries, which deliver blood from your heart throughout your body. As a result, your peripheral arteries narrow, reducing blood flow.26

A lack of blood flow may decrease your body temperature. People with PAD may notice that one of their legs is colder than the other.27

Other PAD symptoms include:27

  • Bluish, pale skin
  • Erectile dysfunction, typically in men with diabetes
  • Painful, achy leg muscles that may become heavy or numb when climbing stairs or walking
  • Poor leg hair and toenail growth
  • Sores on your lower extremities that do not heal
  • Weak pulse in your feet or legs

What To Do

A healthcare provider may advise heart-healthy lifestyle changes, medicines, or surgery to treat PAD. For example, eating a balanced diet and regularly exercising help lower the risk of plaque build-up.26

Medicines that treat PAD include:28

  • ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), and other drugs that lower blood pressure
  • Antiplatelet medicines (e.g., aspirin and clopidogrel), which prevent blood clots
  • Statins, which lower plaque build-up

A healthcare provider may advise surgery to open your peripheral arteries if lifestyle changes and medicines fail.28

11. Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Not consuming enough vitamin B12—about 2.4. micrograms daily for the average adult—can cause anemia, making you feel cold, said Moon.29

Other vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms include:30

  • Bleeding gums
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath, especially during exercise
  • Swollen, red tongue

Over time, untreated vitamin B12 deficiency may cause imbalance, numb hands or feet, trouble focusing, among other symptoms.30

What To Do

You can boost your vitamin B12 levels by eating foods like:31

  • Beef liver
  • Breakfast cereals fortified with vitamin B12
  • Dairy products (e.g., eggs and milk)
  • Meat
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Poultry
  • Shellfish

Vegans and vegetarians are more likely than others to have vitamin B12 deficiency since the nutrient is almost exclusively found in animal products, said Moon. Ask a healthcare provider whether adding a vitamin B12 supplement can help if you eat a plant-based diet.

A healthcare provider may advise a monthly shot of vitamin B12. You may need fewer shots as your vitamin B12 level stabilizes.30

When To See a Healthcare Provider

Consult a healthcare provider if you are frequently sensitive to cold temperatures, especially when others say they are not cold. Your healthcare provider will likely ask if you have always been sensitive to cold temperatures or if you suddenly developed cold intolerance.

Let a healthcare provider know if you have symptoms of anemia, anorexia nervosa, hypothyroidism, Raynaud’s disease, or other health conditions that may cause cold intolerance.19

A healthcare provider may use several diagnostic tests to figure out what’s causing you to be constantly cold, such as:19

  • Complete blood count (CBC): This blood test measures white and red blood cells, platelets, hemoglobin, and the percentage of your blood made up of red blood cells.
  • Serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH): This test examines the amount of TSH in your blood. TSH signals your thyroid to make thyroid hormone.
  • Thyroid hormone levels: This test can determine whether you have hypothyroidism.

A Quick Review 

There can be several different reasons why you constantly feel cold. Consult a healthcare provider if you have eliminated causes like dehydration, lack of sleep, and low body weight. Healthcare providers can help figure out what, exactly, has you feeling chilled and suggest proper treatments.

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