Cold Intolerance: Why Some People Feel Colder Than Others?

Do you feel colder than others around you? Is it genetics, hormones, or some underlying disorder?

5 min read
Hindi Female

Even in peak summer, someone or the other is seen wearing a thin shawl/stole – in the office, in cinema halls, in restaurants. This, while others are fanning themselves, swearing at the heat.

Yes, there are people who feel colder than others. This is called cold intolerance.

There are even memes on this making the rounds on social media.

We often hear that if a mother feels cold, she wears a layer of warm clothes and makes her child wear it too. Believe me, I do this too.


Do you also feel colder than everyone else?

Are there fights in your home every day on what the AC temperature should be set to? Do you also run to grab that one spot in office where the AC is not as strong?

If yes, read on.

FIT spoke to experts to find out what causes some people to feel more cold than others, and if it could be a sign of some underlying illness.

"I think one of the important things to discuss before getting married should be about the AC temperature in the house."
Surbhi Shastri

Surbhi and her husband Madhav used to fight often over the temperature in their bedroom.

Surbhi does not tolerate cold, and Madhav cannot stand the heat. Madhav wants to keep the room temperature matched with Shimla's temperature, while Surbhi runs the AC at 28 degrees even in the summer.

In the end, they decided to sleep in 2 separate rooms, and happily found a way out of this problem.

"My friends tease me when I sit away from the AC in the office and keep a shawl in the movie hall. Sometimes under pressure, I pretend that I am not feeling cold, but in those times, I am fighting a battle inside."
Ruhi Alam

Why Do Some People Have Cold Intolerance?

"Its different from person to person. Just like some people like sweet food and some don't, in the same way, some people feel cold more than others. But, some times there can be some other reasons as well."
Dr Sushila Kataria, Senior Director- Internal Medicine, Medanta Hospital, Gurgaon

This is because hormones play a role in thermoregulation.

"We also have to look at hormonal and emotional changes because they can make people feel cold too. Depression also makes people feel colder."
Dr Sushila Kataria, Senior Director- Internal Medicine, Medanta Hospital, Gurgaon

On the other hand, Dr Charu Goyal Sachdev, HOD and Consultant, Internal Medicine at Manipal Hospital, Dwarka says, "This is largely linked to metabolic rate."

"The hypothalamus in our brain regulates our body temperature. It is generally observed that women have a lower metabolic rate. Because of this, women generally feel colder than men.
Dr Charu Goyal Sachdev, HOD and Consultant Internal Medicine, Manipal Hospital, Dwarka

Some people who have more fat deposition under their skin are protected from cold better than those who don't. People who have weak constitutions are also more prone to feeling cold.

Dr Anupam Biswas, Consultant, Endocrinology at Fortis Hospital, Noida, also adds that "weight and hormonal disorders also affect chills."

Can Genes Also Be a Cause of Cold Intolerance?

Dr Anupam Biswas says, "Yes, some people feel more cold than others and the reason could be their genes."

"Recent studies have shown that ACTN3, a common genetic variation in the skeletal muscle gene, can affect your tolerance to cold. People who lack ACTN3 are less able to maintain their body temperature and resist cold temperatures as compared to those who don't."
Dr Anupam Biswas Consultant-Endocrinology, Fortis Hospital, Noida

Are Women More Prone to Cold Intolerance?

"Gender is subjective. Yes, some women feel cold more than their partners or brothers.
Dr Sushila Kataria, Senior Director- Internal Medicine, Medanta Hospital, Gurgaon

"Women can feel colder than men and there is a scientific reason for this. Women of equal body weight tend to have less muscle mass than men and have more fat between the skin and muscles, leading to more chills. It may be because the skin is farther away from the blood vessels," says Dr Anupam Biswas.

"In addition, studies have shown that women have a lower metabolic rate than men, which reduces the body's ability to produce heat and increases the risk of cold intolerance."
Dr Anupam Biswas Consultant-Endocrinology, Fortis Hospital, Noida

Dr Anurag Aggarwal, Consultant, Internal Medicine at QRG Hospital, Faridabad, says, "Men have more muscle mass than women. More muscle mass means more metabolism, which generates more heat. This is why men feel less cold. Women who have more muscle mass also feel less cold than other women."

Is Cold Intolerance the Symptom of an Illness?

"I still remember my Patna-Pune train journeys very well. During my 2 night journey in the train, I used to ask the train attendant to reduce the AC at least fifty times. Often frustrated, the train attendant would see me and rush to the other side. Other passengers also used to stare at me. Due to the cold I could not sleep even after taking 2 blankets. Later, we found that I had anaemia."
Ruhi Alam

Dr Anupam Biswas says that while seeing a person who has cold intolerance, they should be examined for pathological conditions like,

"There are some medical conditions due to which people feel colder than others. It is very important to be aware of these medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, anaemia."
Dr Charu Goyal Sachdev, HOD and Consultant Internal Medicine, Manipal Hospital, Dwarka

In hypothyroidism, there is a persistent feeling of being cold as the basic metabolism is low because of a lack of hormones in the thyroid.

Anaemia can be a big reason too. Blood is responsible for delivering oxygen to the body and if, for some reason, the body is not able to produce it in sufficient quantity, then it feels colder as compared to others.

Anorexia is an eating disorder that is characterised by frequent vomiting and weight loss. Such people also suffer through cold intolerance.

Cold intolerance can also be an issue if you have diabetes as well.

Due to any type of problem in peripheral artery disease, the blood flow in some parts of the body like – feet, back and fingers – decreases, due to which cold intolerance remains high.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can also increase cold intolerance in the body.


Can Cold Intolerance Be Treated?

First step to understanding the issue it to contact a doctor and get all the tests done. The treatment of cold intolerance completely depends on its underlying cause.

For instance, if it is due to a genetic disposition, then there is no cure, but if someone has this problem because of anaemia, then in most cases, iron supplements are prescribed.

Similarly, if the cause is hypothyroidism, then an oral synthetic hormone treatment can help.

Treatment of anorexia is based on the symptoms, which is often a long process. In this, special attention is given to lifestyle and food habits.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from fit

Topics:  Anaemia   Hypothyroidism 

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More