Understanding cold intolerance

22 July 2016
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22 July 2016, Comments: 0

Cold intolerance occurs when an individual is extremely sensitive to cold temperatures. It is important to note that cold intolerance is more severe than the normal sensation of chillness while staying outdoors during cool days.

Some individuals are susceptible to feeling cold particularly those who have chronic health issues or have minimal body fat. If the individual has cold intolerance, he/she is likely to complain of cold when others around are comfortable or find it warm. The addition of extra layers of clothing could not relieve it. Remember that it is also possible to experience sensitivity in certain body parts such as the hands.

A doctor should be consulted for an assessment if the individual has no history of cold intolerance and the feeling of cold seems to persist. The treatment usually depends on the diagnosis.

Close look on cold intolerance

The body temperature is controlled by various bodily systems. The hypothalamus is a region in the brain that functions as a thermostat to control the body temperature. It transmits messages that regulate the production of heat or processes that cools down the body. It also directs the thyroid gland to reduce or increase the metabolism which is vital in creating heat and fuel. As for the blood flow that spreads heat and body fat, it is also vital. Cold intolerance is usually the result of issues with one or a combination of these processes.

Take note that cold intolerance might be due to poor overall health or an indication of various health conditions such as the following:

  • Anemia

    Cold intolerance

    It is important to note that cold intolerance is more severe than the normal sensation of chillness while staying outdoors during cool days.

  • Blood vessel conditions
  • Anorexia
  • Disorders affecting the hypothalamus
  • Anorexia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Fibromyalgia

Skin that was previously damaged by frostbite might stay sensitive to the cold even after the injury has already healed.

How is it diagnosed

As a new symptom that does not seem to get better, it is best to set an appointment with a doctor so that a complete assessment can be carried out. The doctor will take the medical history and ask questions.

Depending on the outcome of the physical examination, the doctor might order additional tests including blood tests and hormone level tests to determine if there are any underlying disorders.


Cold intolerance is not considered as an illness, but a symptom of an underlying disease. The treatment usually depends on the diagnosis given by the doctor. The causes of cold intolerance that the individual might be treated for include:


The treatment for anorexia is a long-term process. There are medications that can be used to deal with the specific symptoms.


If the individual is anemic, the treatment is based on the cause. In most cases, the individual is required to take iron supplements.

Vascular issues

Vascular problems can be managed in various ways depending on the cause. Medications and surgery might be used in severe cases.


This condition is usually treated using oral synthetic hormones that are taken on a daily basis. The treatment can be lifelong but the doses can be adjusted every now and then.


The treatment for this condition is aimed on relieving the symptoms which includes pain medications, cognitive behavioral therapy and physical therapy.

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