Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.


Cold Intolerance Overview

What is cold intolerance?
A person with abnormal cold intolerance often complains of being cold when others are comfortable. People exhibit a wide range of tolerance to cold, so determining when cold intolerance is medically important can be a challenge. Cold intolerance is more common in the elderly and in those who have a lower body mass index, lower body fat, or are underweight. In general, any disease that interferes with metabolism can trigger cold (and heat) intolerance. An under-active thyroid gland is the most common cause of gland-related cold intolerance.

What are the symptoms of cold intolerance?
People who complain of cold intolerance are often under-weight or elderly. Symptoms of cold intolerance due to hypothyroidism include dry hair, dry skin, neck swelling, thyroid gland enlargement, lethargy, low body temperature, constipation, loss of appetite, weakness, fatigue, and weight gain.

How does the doctor treat cold intolerance?
Treatment for severe or persistent cold intolerance depends on the underlying cause. Treatment may include a change in diet, change in medications, thyroid hormone supplements, and surgery to remove a large thyroid goiter.

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