Welcome to the newest edition of The Why. “Why am I cold all the time?” you ask? Good question. (Besides, it beats answering the question: “Why does cold make parts of our bodies do embarrassing things?” Well, which parts, what embarrassing things and do ya have pictures?)
You say you feel cold all the time? You want to know why? Well, there are a number of reasons and yet the cold winter is potentially one of those reasons. The truth is no matter how much you layer your clothing in the cold months you could still feel cold if you hands and feet are not kept warm.
A source at Time, health research writer Markham Heid and Dr. Mike Tipton, a professor of human physiology at Portsmouth University in the UK, confirmed this. Tipton confirms that the temperature of your feet and hands control your sensation of “thermal comfort.” He says: “You can be warm, but if your hands and feet are cold, you will feel cold.”
This is a problem for the gals because as a past piece for American Live Wire, women generally have colder hands than men do. Heid agrees noting that a “University of Utah study found that while the average woman’s core body temperature is a smidge above the average man’s, her hands are nearly three degrees cooler.”
Tipton says women feel cold because the hormone estrogen sets off the mechanism that stops blood flow to their extremities. In fact, women feel even colder when their estrogen levels spike at different moments of their menstrual cycle.
Dr. Anne Cappola, an endocrinologist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, says your vascular function and metabolism may also be responsible for feeling cold. She states: “Metabolism is a more complicated concept . . . but in oversimplified terms, those with a high metabolism burn more calories and enjoy increased blood flow, both of which help heat you up.” Thus if you feel cold your metabolism might be low.
Cappola claims the thyroid also plays an important role in your metabolism and therefore heat production. An underactive thyroid—or hypothyroidism—can eventually cause your metabolic activity to lower which would therefore cause a constant cold sensation.
Heid adds: “There are many, many more explanations for why you may feel cold all the time, and nearly all of them have to do with poor blood circulation.” His source, Dr. Erika Schwartz, reports that anything that impairs your vascular function—“from diabetes to old age”—will actually slow the quantity of blood circulating through extremities and this can “cause you to feel cold.”
Finally, if you feel colder in late fall and of course early winter that is because—according to Tipton’s research—folks have this natural ability to actually acclimatize to cold temperatures. Heid concludes that this “also explains why you can comfortably bust out shorts and a T-shirt on that first 65-degree spring day, while the same thermostat reading would send you hunting for jeans and a sweater in late summer.”
Why am I cold all the time? Now you know.
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