Cold Intolerance & Iron Deficient Anemia
Some people have naturally cooler body temperatures than others, and cold intolerance is the term used to describe an extreme sensitivity to cold temperatures.
This goes beyond just feeling chilly on a winter day and is often linked to a chronic medical condition that has little to do with the weather.
Here is some information about why individuals with anemia may be more sensitive to cold weather and what can be done about cold intolerance in the winter.
Connection Between the Two
Individuals who are diagnosed with anemia do not have enough healthy red blood cells in their bodies. Iron is an essential mineral that helps red blood cells transport oxygen in the body and deliver nutrients and heat to the cells. When iron levels are low, the body’s red blood cells can’t function properly and sensations of feeling cold may occur.
Iron deficiencies are also linked to a lethargic thyroid and hypothyroidism, which can make the body even colder. Cold intolerance caused by anemia is especially evident in the hands and feet and may be accompanied by fatigue and shortness of breath.
How Body Temperature Is Regulated
A part of the brain called the hypothalamus is responsible for producing the hormones that regulate body temperature. The hypothalamus sends regulatory messages in the body to produce heat in response to environmental factors.
Another important part of the body in this regard is the thyroid, which is responsible for burning calories to use as fuel for the body and create heat. The flow of blood is also important in temperature regulation because blood spreads heat throughout the body.
Other Factors That Affect Cold Intolerance
There are many other conditions besides anemia that can lead to cold intolerance as well.
These include fibromyalgia, low body fat, anorexia, hypothyroidism, and disorders of the blood vessels and hypothalamus. Very thin women who have low amounts of body fat and individuals who have a malfunctioning metabolism are particularly susceptible to cold intolerance.
How to Stay Warm This Winter
If feelings of extreme cold persist even after coming inside from outdoor activities, it is advisable to consult a medical professional to discuss the symptoms and possible treatments. It’s important to personally document the circumstances of cold intolerance, including medications taken and lifestyle habits, to help the doctor diagnose the cause of the problem.
A doctor may check the body’s ferritin level, and if that number is under 60 and accompanied by persistent feelings of coldness, an iron deficiency could be to blame. If the underlying cause of cold intolerance is anemia, then iron supplements like Fergon may be recommended as treatment. Other treatments will be recommended if the cause of cold intolerance are attributed to a different medical condition.
In general, it is important to dress in warm layers during the winter months and stay indoors as much as possible on very cold days. Iron-rich foods, like lean meats, leafy greens, seafood, and eggs, and can also help keep the body warm if anemia is the cause of coldness.
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