Why am I so hot?
September 22, 2006 3:05 PM   Subscribe

My whole life, people have been telling me that my skin feels very hot to the touch. When I touch other people, they almost always feel cool to me. I am sensitive to heat, and I dehydrate and get sun stroke easily. I also tend not to sweat very much, which it has occurred to me might keep me from cooling down. But doctors have always found my body temperature to be normal. I doubt it affects my health, but I am curious as to why I might be like this. Any ideas?
posted by walla to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I experience the same symptoms, though my temperature tends to run low. No one's ever fully been able to explain why this happens, but one doctor claimed it was because I experienced high, unexplained fevers as a child that screwed up my inner thermometer. Another explanation was that since my temperature is usually low (96 or 97), my body is constantly trying to heat itself. I don't know how plausible these answers are, or if they apply to you, but I definitely empathize.
posted by Zosia Blue at 3:10 PM on September 22, 2006

I was often told how hot I was - a "furnace" is what people called me. A few months later I was diagnosed with hyper-thyroidism which was causing my metabolism to go through the roof.
posted by vacapinta at 3:12 PM on September 22, 2006

Zosia Blue, my temperature is also often a little low, which I always found strange. Vacapinta, did you have any other symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
posted by walla at 3:19 PM on September 22, 2006

Copied from an article on the 'Net:

"... weight loss with increased appetite, shortness of breath and fatigue, intolerance to heat, heart palpitations, increased frequency of bowel movements, weak muscles, tremors, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping."

I also used to blink a lot and my eyes were "buggy" If this sounds like you, mention it to your doctor sometime - who can provide more information. A simple blood test can determine it.
posted by vacapinta at 3:29 PM on September 22, 2006

Hyperthyroidism usually causes you to sweat more than usual - also do you have trouble gaining weight, sleeping, or have unexplained fatigue, heart palpitations or nervousness?

I have always been 'warm to the touch', run a low body temp (around 96.6 as my personal 'normal') and I have never seemed to be affected by changes in ambient temperature as much as other people around me. My x complained that I was like sleeping next to a hot radiator, regardless of the season. All my life my family, friends, colleagues, roommates, etc... have claimed that my indifference to ambient heat and cold is unusual. I've been waterskiing in 40F without a wetsuit, and done 60 mile cycle races in 110F heat without ill effect.

In my case, I've had 2 doctors explain this away as simple body composition. I happen to be an athlete, and a heavily muscular one at that (my body type is strongly "mesomorphic", think linebacker / weightlifter type). Since muscle both 'runs hotter' and sheds more heat than fat does, it's like my body is a big heatsink.

If you are concerned about thyroid, definitely go get a physical. Everyone should get a full physical workup done once every three to five years during their adult life *anyway*. Think of it as analogous to taking the car in to get a tuneup.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:33 PM on September 22, 2006

Since I had a partial thyroidectomy (to remove a lump) I've found it much easier to get cold. Whether that had something to do with the thyroid or because of the major post-surgery superbug infection with fever, or is completely unrelated, I don't know. Previously I was always warm, and with my wife also being hot-natured we barely slept with any covers. Now, I take all the covers to keep warm.

This is an addition to the answers suggested by Zosia Blue and vacapinta.
posted by Kickstart70 at 3:33 PM on September 22, 2006

I bet you have great peripheral circulation. Speaking as someone with the opposite problem (fingers/toes freeze easily in winter, cold skin, etc), I just want to say I envy you.
posted by selfmedicating at 3:41 PM on September 22, 2006

Sounds like you have good circulation. Like right now my hands are pretty cool, even though my main body temprature is normal.
posted by delmoi at 4:04 PM on September 22, 2006

Low body temperature and dry skin are signs of hypothyroidism, but skin which is hot to the touch and proneness to heat stroke cut against this, as far as I know.

I think you may be right to look to your tendency not to sweat for a cause. If your body cannot cool itself by evaporation, it might ramp up your skin temperature to compensate, and it might lower core body temperature, also to compensate.

Zosia Blue, very high fevers are a typical problem of children who have difficulty sweating.
posted by jamjam at 4:13 PM on September 22, 2006

Huh, l was planning on asking this exact same question for ages bug never got around to it. I've been called "radiator" all my life and don't get cold very easily. But I have no symptoms of hyperthyroidism, I'm pretty chubby and don't have a very high metabolism. It must just be the good circulation thing.
posted by octothorpe at 5:46 PM on September 22, 2006

I'm a human furnace too, as is my father. My thyroid has been checked recently and apparently came out OK, although I must admit I'm now thinking about going back in...
posted by aramaic at 11:34 AM on September 23, 2006

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