Definition

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

Alternative Names

Sensitivity to the cold; Intolerance to cold

Considerations

Cold intolerance can be a symptom of a metabolic problem.

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

Common Causes

  • Anemia
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Blood vessel (vascular) problems, such as Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Chronic severe illness
  • General poor health
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Problem with the hypothalamus

Home Care

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

Call your health care provider if

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

What to expect at your health care provider’s office

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

Medical history questions may include:

  • 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 the 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 diagnosed cold intolerance, you may want to note that diagnosis in your personal medical record.

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