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Potential Reasons Why You Are Always Cold and How to Warm Up

Do you constantly feel like a popsicle at work? Bundled up like you are headed on an Arctic expedition? Are you playing thermostat wars at home – turning up the heat in the house and your relationship? 

Chances are someone is keeping things a bit chilly at home and work or you could have what is known as cold intolerance. 

“Cold intolerance is an abnormal sensitivity to cold temperatures and is more severe than the normal feeling of chilliness you have when it is cold,” said Colton Redding, MD, a family medicine physician with Banner Health.

Many times, the causes for cold intolerance are nothing to shiver (or worry) too much over, while other reasons may be due to a medical condition and require treatment.

Here are nine possible reasons why you are constantly freezing and what you can do about it.


When you are anemic, your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells (hemoglobin) to carry oxygen, heat and nutrients throughout your body. In addition to being cold, other symptoms include shortness of breath, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, pale or yellowish skin and exhaustion.

There are many types of anemia, but the most common ones are due to an iron deficiency, folate deficiency or vitamin B12 deficiency.

What you can do

“Talk to your health care provider about your symptoms, so they can help understand the underlying cause and treat accordingly,” Dr. Redding said.  “Often, they may perform a blood test, which will likely include a complete blood count (CBC).” 

Depending on the type of anemia, your provider may recommend supplements and changes to your diet. Good sources of B12 and iron can be found in chicken, eggs, fish and leafy green vegetables.

Lack of sleep

You might get the chills when you don’t get enough sleep. Some research suggests poor sleep hygiene can cause you to feel cold more frequently. 

Sleep-deprived people may be more vulnerable to heat loss and unable to feel warm even at temperatures thought to be associated with comfort. “Not getting the right amount of sleep affects systems in your body, such as metabolism and the part of the brain that regulates body temperature,” Dr. Redding said. 

What you can do

Get more sleep. The answer seems easy but getting a better night’s rest can be tricky.

“A few things you can do are limit your use of electronics before bedtime (about one to two hours beforehand), limit your caffeine intake after noon, and no daytime napping,” Dr. Redding said. “If you are dealing with insomnia, sleep apnea or other sleep disorders, talk to your provider. These conditions are treatable.”

Check out these additional sleep tips from a Banner Health sleep expert.

Low body mass index (BMI)

“Body fat insulates you from the cold, so if you don’t have an adequate supply of it, you’ll feel colder than others,” Dr. Redding said.

People who are underweight (BMI of 18.5 or under) due to an eating disorder, such as people with anorexia nervosa, or those who lose body fat due to an illness, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or cancer, may be prone to feeling chilly more often.

What you can do

Talk to your health care provider if you struggle with low body weight. 

If you or a loved one suffers from an eating disorder, seek help immediately. You can reach out to a Banner Health specialist or call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline at 800-931-2237. 


If you feel cold, tired and have to pee a lot, you could have diabetes. 

A complication of diabetes that can make you feel cold is peripheral neuropathy, where the nerves are damaged, most commonly in your hands and feet. This can cause them to feel numb, tingly or painful.

What you can do

If you believe you are at risk for type 2 diabetes or are experiencing symptoms of type 2 diabetes, see your health care provider. 

If you have diabetes and are experiencing neuropathy or ongoing issues with your blood sugar, contact your health care provider to get your diabetes under control.


Your thyroid gland secretes hormones that have many important functions throughout the body, including regulating your metabolism and body temperature. 

“When your thyroid gland is underactive, known as hypothyroidism, it doesn’t produce enough hormones for your body, and as a result, you can be more sensitive to the cold,” Dr. Redding said.

What you can do

Talk to your health care provider for a proper diagnosis. 

Hypothyroidism can be treated with replacement thyroid hormones and will require routine monitoring and adjustments to your medication to ensure you maintain appropriate hormone levels.


“Up to 60% of your body is made up of water,” Dr. Redding said. “Water helps regulate your body temperature.”

If you aren’t adequately hydrated, your body becomes more sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Beyond feeling cold, you may feel dizzy and tired, pee and sweat less, and have dark-colored urine and a dry mouth. 

What you can do

Drink plenty of water every day, and always drink more before, during and after physical activity or if you are spending time outdoors.


Some people with fibromyalgia report sensitivity to temperature changes. The exact cause is not entirely known, but it is thought to involve several factors.

What you can do

Even though scientists are still trying to pinpoint the causes of fibromyalgia, you can effectively manage it with lifestyle changes and treatment therapies. This may include using a heating pad and electric blanket along with changes to your diet, sleep and exercise practices.

Circulatory issues

Poor blood flow or decreased circulation in your arteries and veins can cause you to feel chilly, especially in your hands and feet. While there are several reasons for poor circulation, here are a couple you should look out for: peripheral artery disease (PAD) and Raynaud’s disease or phenomenon.

PAD occurs when there is plaque buildup in the arteries of your arms and legs. In addition to feeling cold, you may feel leg pain when walking. 

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a rare blood vessel disorder that typically affects the fingers and toes. It causes your blood vessels to constrict when you are cold or stressed. 

What you can do

Talk to your health care provider so they can determine the cause of your circulation problems.

For PAD, your provider can work with you to develop strategies to help you stop smoking and lower your cholesterol, blood pressure and weight, all of which are risk factors for PAD. Medications may also be given to slow the disease progression.

“It’s important to lay a good foundation of health with diet and exercise and to follow up with your provider to monitor circulation concerns,” Dr. Redding said.

For Raynaud’s, your provider may focus on avoiding common triggers, such as exposure to cold environments, treating any underlying conditions and may prescribe medications to manage your discomfort.

“Your provider may recommend a calcium channel blocker class of medication in more severe cases,” Dr. Redding said.


Although it is not common, some people experience chills when they are stressed or anxious. A sudden adrenaline rush triggers a fight-or-flight response and causes your blood vessels to constrict. When this happens, you can feel a full-body chill or shiver down your spine.

What you can do

Talk to your health care provider. They can help provide tips for managing stress and anxiety.

In cases of severe anxiety, your provider may refer you to a licensed behavioral health specialist who can help diagnose and treat your condition.


“Why am I always cold?” is a common question that can have several answers. Your first step is to see your health care provider to determine why and confirm there’s no medical issue.

Need to learn why you’re always feeling cold?

Schedule an appointment with a primary care provider near you.

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