Cold intolerance is an abnormal sensitivity to a cold environment or cold temperatures.
Cold intolerance can be a symptom of a problem with metabolism.
Some people (often very thin women) do not tolerate cold temperatures because they have very little body fat to help keep them warm.
Some causes of cold intolerance are:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Blood vessel problems, such as Raynaud phenomenon
- Chronic severe illness
- General poor health
- Problem with the hypothalamus, (a part of the brain that controls body temperature)
- Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
Follow the recommended therapy for treating the cause of the problem.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your health care provider if you have long-term or extreme intolerance to cold.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your provider will take a medical history and perform a physical examination.
Your provider's questions may include the following topics.
- 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?
- 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:
If your provider diagnoses cold intolerance, you may want to include the diagnosis in your personal medical record.
Sensitivity to the cold; Intolerance to cold
Brent GA, Weetman AP. Hypothyroidism and thyroiditis. In: Melmed S, Auchus RJ, Goldfine AB, Koenig RJ, Rosen CJ, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 13.
Jonklaas J, Cooper DS. Thyroid. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 213.
Sawka MN, O'Connor FG. Disorders due to heat and cold. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 101.
Review Date 1/18/2022
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.