Are your hands and feet perpetually chilly most of the time? Do you often feel colder than other people you live or work with? Well, everyone has slightly different adaptation to cold weather. Some people naturally tend to have cold hands and feet and feel uncomfortable while others are comfortable in the same environment.

Simply adding extra layers of clothing may relieve the feeling of being cold. But, if cool feet and hands are bothering you constantly, or you notice other symptoms such as brittle hair, dry skin or so on, you may have some underlying medical condition such as thyroid disease.

Get your thyroid function checked

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Cold hands and feet is a sign of cold intolerance or sensitivity, a well-known symptom of underactive thyroid disease. Talk to your health care professional about the possible cause and get a simple routine blood tests to confirm the diagnosis of thyroid disease. You can also consult an online Endocrinologist to discuss your concern and get better clarity or second opinion. Remember, if TSH level is higher than normal, you may have underactive thyroid disease.


How an underactive thyroid causes cold hands and feet?

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The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland just above the collar bone, is a thermostat of the body. It releases hormone to regulate internal body temperature and metabolism. Lack of thyroid hormones slows down the metabolism and decreases the amount of energy and heat, which otherwise, the cells can produce. This decreases the body’s temperature and impairs the body’s ability to adapt to colder environments.
Those affected by thyroid abnormality may need a longer time to adjust to colder environments. This is why they feel cold even in a warm environment.

Hypothyroidism affects women more frequently than men and people over the age of 60 but can begin at any age.

Take charge of your cold intolerance

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You may need to take an appropriate dosage of synthetic thyroid hormone as prescribed by the doctor. The medication will help to restore your hormones to normal levels and eventually reverse cold sensitivity. Treatment is usually for lifetime, but dosages may be adjusted time to time. No surgery, drugs, or complementary medicine can boost the thyroid gland function once it slows down.

Other possible causes for cold feet and hands

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Feeling cold is not enough to come to the conclusion that you have thyroid disease. There are several other causes of cold hands and feet that are beyond thyroid hormone levels such as:

  • Anemia: It leads to slow metabolism and decreases heat production. You can get anemic from vitamin B12, B6, and folic acid or iron deficiency.
  • Low body weight: You do not have enough body fat to keep you warm.
  • Blood vessels disorders: These disorders such as Raynaud’s disease, decreases flow of blood to the extremities and you feel cool.
  • Poor blood circulation: If you have low blood pressure, blood will not reach to the peripheral extremities to keep temperature up.
  • Diabetes: It can lead to nerve damage or neuropathy that make you feel cold especially in your feet.
  • Hashimoto disease: An autoimmune disease in which body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland leading to cold hand and feet.
  • Frostbite: Skin that has been previously injured, such as by frostbite, may remain sensitive to cold even after the injury has healed.

Cold intolerance is one of the symptoms we often brush off or do not take seriously but it can be very distressful. Remember that timely treatment can cure your cold sensitivity. For this, you need to know the actual cause. Consult an Endocrinologist or internal medicine specialist to know more about cold sensitivity. Do not let feeling of coolness, dull shine of your life!

About the Author

Shruti Mahajan

Shruti is an experienced Medical Writer with an excellent academic and professional background. She has demonstrated history of working as Assistant professor in Physiotherapy College and as clinician for more than 7 years. A dedicated healthcare professional with strong research and training skills. She has many publications in reputed journals.


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