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Cold intolerance
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Cold intolerance

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Sensitivity to the cold; Intolerance to cold

Cold intolerance is an abnormal sensitivity to a cold environment or cold temperatures.

I Would Like to Learn About:

  • Considerations

    Cold intolerance can be a symptom of a problem with metabolism.

    Some people (often very thin women) do not tolerate cold environments because they have very little body fat and are unable to keep warm.

  • Causes

    • Anemia
    • Anorexia nervosa
    • Blood vessel (vascular) problems, such as Raynaud's phenomenon
    • Chronic severe illness
    • General poor health
    • Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid)
    • Problem with the hypothalamus (a part of the brain that controls many body functions, including body temperature)
  • Home Care

    Follow the recommended therapy for treating the cause of the problem.

  • When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if you have long-term or extreme intolerance to cold.

  • What to Expect at Your Office Visit

    Your health care provider will take a medical history and perform a physical examination.

    Your provider's questions may include the following topics.

    Time pattern:

    • Have you always been intolerant of cold?
    • Has this developed recently?
    • Has it been getting worse?
    • Do you often feel cold when other people do not complain of being cold?

    Medical history:

    • What is your diet like?
    • How is your general health?
    • What are your height and weight?
    • What other symptoms do you have?

    Tests that may be performed include:

    • Complete blood count (CBC)
    • Serum TSH
    • Thyroid hormone levels

    If your health care provider diagnoses cold intolerance, you may want to include the diagnosis in your personal medical record.

Related Information

     

References

Kim M, Ladenson P. Thyroid. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 233.

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Review Date: 5/11/2014  

Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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