Cold intolerance is often related to thyroid function i.e. hypothyroidism.
Cold intolerance is when you are extremely sensitive to cold temperatures and it is more severe than the normal feeling most people get when they are feeling cold. So, if you have it, you probably feel too cold when everyone else feels too warm or a good temperature.
As the main purpose of thyroid hormones, produced by the thyroid gland, is to ensure the metabolism is running properly, people with an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism (and often not properly treated) will have symptoms associated with a slow metabolism, such as cold intolerance.
The thyroid gland has to be functioning properly (i.e. be producing the correct amount of thyroid hormones) to burn calories in the body to create heat and fuel; your metabolism. Creating heat and fuel is obviously very important, in particular for your body heat and energy level.
Your body temperature is regulated by a few things, but we’re looking at the one related to thyroid function. We’re going to explore the hypothalamus, which is in the brain.
The hypothalamus regulates our body temperature such as heat production and cooling down. It does this by speaking to the pituitary gland which in turn tells the thyroid gland to increase or decrease the the amount of thyroid hormones it is producing, which manage our metabolism. As we know, the two main hormones your thyroid produces and/or uses, T3 and T4 are important in this process.
Feeling cold intolerance increases your body’s need for more thyroid hormones, which can make you feel more hypothyroid, which is why you likely get increased hypothyroid symptoms when exposed to the cold.
This can cause your TSH level to rise and your Free T4 and Free T3 levels to drop.
If you are often colder than those around you, you should check your thyroid function. Cold intolerance is not an illness, it is a symptom of an underlying condition, such as a poorly treated underactive thyroid. Most people feel best when their TSH is between 0.5-2, Free T4 mid-range or a bit higher and Free T3 towards the top quarter of the range.
People with normal thyroid function can produce more thyroid hormones to generate more heat. Those who rely on daily thyroid medication can’t do this. So some thyroid patients up their dose slightly at colder times of the year. Exposure to extreme temperatures is a stress on anyone’s body, let alone those of us with underactive thyroids!
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Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism
Rachel is a Thyroid Patient Advocate and Expert with Six 2018 WEGO Health Award Nominations. She is a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites 2018, and is a qualified Diet and Nutritional Advisor, also currently studying for relevant qualifications and certificates in Life Coaching, Motivational Speaking, Reflexology and more. She has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Dr. Hedberg, Thyroid UK and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well recognised as a trusted and useful contributor to the thyroid community.