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Cold intolerance

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 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.

Causes

Some causes of cold intolerance are:

Home Care

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

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call 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.

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 being 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 provider diagnoses cold intolerance, you may want to include the diagnosis in your personal medical record.

References

Kim M, Ladenson PW. Thyroid. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 226.

Sawka MN, O'Connor FG. Disorders due to heat and cold. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 109.

Review Date:1/31/2016
Reviewed By:Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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