Do you feel a periodic chill that lasts a while but your thyroid’s normal and the temperature in your home is 73 or 74? Chills can be a sign of lymphoma.
If you already know this, then feeling cold can be alarming if you can’t figure out why.
You may start noticing that your hands are cold, and then realize that your whole body seems to have the chills – nothing dramatic where you’re shivering, but enough that you know you’d feel a lot more comfortable with a heavy jacket on.
What’s vexing is that the temperature in your home is what it always is for your comfort level. Hmmm, what can be going on?
First of all, do you have any new-onset unexplained symptoms? These, in combination with feeling cold at normal room temperature, should be concerning and warrant a trip to your doctor.
- Fatigue or feeling tired for no reason
- Unintentional weight loss
- Chest pain
- Body-wide itching
- Hair loss
- Hoarse voice
- Tingling in the fingers
- Drenching night sweats
- An enlarged but painless lymph node or strange new lump
If feeling cold is the only “symptom” that you have, there’s very likely no reason to worry.
If you had lymphoma, you’d have other symptoms by the time your body started experiencing the chills.
Same with low thyroid. Its notable symptoms are unexplained weight gain, sluggishness or lethargy, feeling tired, hair loss, constipation and depression.
Benign Causes of Feeling Cold
“There are several factors that contribute towards temperature control and the sensation of feeling either hot or cold,” says Dr. David Beatty, MD, a retired general practitioner with 30+ years of experience and an instructor of general medicine for 20 years.
“The obvious ones are the environmental temperature and how much and what type of clothing you wear.
“Wind chill can make you feel much colder than you would expect for a given temperature reading, and wet clothing can have a similar effect.”
It’s remotely possible that if you often feel cold, your heater and thermostat aren’t working. You’ll want to buy a cheap thermometer to see what the temperature of your home actually is.
You’ll also want to take note if the chills kick up only when you’re in certain locations.
For example, I sometimes felt a little chilly when I was standing near the top of my stairs in my split-level townhome while watching TV (I was standing there to reduce daily sitting time).
Mostly it was my hands, but overall, I kind of felt a little cold, yet the thermostat, which was within several feet of me, consistently showed 74 or 75 degrees.
The front door was at the bottom of the half-staircase. I discovered that cold air was coming in through a poor frame seal and stealthily making its way to the top of the stairs! Mystery solved.
Check your place for any areas that a cold draft could be sneaking in.
“The size of a person matters too,” says Dr. Beatty. “A smaller, thinner person has a larger skin surface area to weight ratio than a larger person.
“As heat is lost from the skin — if you have relatively more skin surface area — the body is more likely to cool.
“An obese person is going to have to work harder to move around; this will involve using more energy and produce more body heat as the extra calories are burned.
“Activity levels are important. If someone is just sitting all day their metabolic rate will be lower, producing less calories to keep the body warm.”
“The thyroid hormone isn’t the only hormone that affects your temperature balance,” says Dr. Beatty.
“Adrenaline and other adrenaline-like hormones have the effect of speeding up the heart rate and increasing circulation to the muscles.
“Someone who is physically or emotionally stressed might feel hot while these hormones are pumping out, but as the stress passes, sweat can cool down on the skin, leaving you feeling cold.
“We’ve all done a physical workout causing us to feel really hot, only to feel cold 15 minutes later.”
If the temperature is room, but you have periodic episodes of “Gee, I’m feeling rather cold,” and can easily imagine that a sweater would be more comfortable – AND, you otherwise feel terrific, have no other symptoms and have had no new deficits in exercise tolerance – chances are that stress and anxiety are the cause, or it could be inconsistent temperatures inside your home during cold weather.
Dr. Beatty has worked in primary medicine, surgery, accident and emergency, OBGYN, pediatrics and chronic disease management. He is the Doctor of Medicine for Strong Home Gym.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.