Cold intolerance

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1. Overview

Usually, cold intolerance gradually increasing reflects the deteriorating of the body temperature control mechanism, which is based on the interaction between the hypothalamus and the thyroid gland.

This symptom may also be the result of a tumor or hormonal deficiency. In the elderly patients cold intolerance is one of the age-related physiological changes.

Cold intolerance may be a manifestation of metabolic problems. Some people (often very slim women) do not tolerate low temperatures because they have very little fat which keeps heat.


1. Overview
2. Home care
3. Investigations
4. Causes

2. Home care

Each person must follow the treatment recommended by the doctor in order to make this inconvenience disappear. If a person is suffering from cold intolerance that persists or is extreme, he should consult his doctor immediately.

The doctor will want to know as many details about patient’s medical history and will do a physical exam. The doctor will want to know:
- How manifest the patient’s cold intolerance;
- If cold intolerance was always manifested;
- If cold intolerance has been recently developed;
- If cold intolerance has worsened lately;
- If the patient is often cold when others are not cold;
- In what consists the patient’s diet;
- What is the overall health;
- The patient’s height and weight;
- Which are the other symptoms that accompany cold intolerance.

3. Investigations

Among the tests and analyzes that can be performed, person suffering from cold intolerance include complete blood count, TSH serology, thyroid hormone levels assessment.

4. Causes

- Hypopituitarism – signs and symptoms of hypopituitarism usually develops slowly and varies depending on the severity of hormonal imbalance. Intolerance to cold and specific shivering may be accompanied by skin that is cold, dry, thin, with a pale wax and fine wrinkles around the mouth.

Other manifestations include fatigue, lethargy, menstrual disorders, impotence, decreased libido, nervousness, irritability, headaches and feeling hungry. If symptoms are from a pituitary tumor may be present including neurological manifestations such as headaches, bilateral temporal hemianopsia, decrease or loss of vision and eventually blindness.

- Hypothalamic lesions – the patient who suffers from hypothalamic lesions will present cold intolerance that will alternate with heat intolerance. Cold intolerance will develop suddenly and the patient will accuse feeling cold and have chills even when he wears warm clothes.

Cold intolerance is accompanied by other symptoms such as amenorrhea, sleep disturbances, feeling of increased thirst, quantitatively important urination, increased appetite followed by weight gain, blurred vision, headaches, personality changes (fits of anger, laughing , complained).

- Hypothyroidism – cold intolerance starts early and progressively become worse in patients with this type of disorder. Other early manifestations include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, menorrhagia.

As hypothyroidism progresses, libido will be low, will slow the mental and motor activities, the hair becomes dry, the nails become thick and brittle, while the skin is cold, pale and dry. The patient will show an inert face mask, swollen feet and hands. In addition to all these abdominal distension and ataxia may also occur.



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