January 28, 2008 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Why am I freezing all the time? It's not my thyroid.

As the coldest part of New England winter sets in, I'm turning into an ice cube. I don't just "run cold," I run freezing. I bring this up to my internist every few years, and she says it's always due to thyroid issues, and has it tested but it always comes up normal. I wear my arctic sweater to work in my 72 F office, and even then my hands get very cold.

Nothing seems to help, alcohol doesn't do anything (and I don't drink much anyway). My diet is normal, I am definitely not skinny--I've recently lost a few pounds, :) but this coldness has been an issue my entire life. I do get warm when working out at the gym (2-3 times a week), but after an hour or so I'm back to cold again. I'm tired of walking around my house wrapped in blankets, and trying not to shiver when going out on dates (walking to the car is when one says goodnight, no?).

I have solved my drafty windows problem, so that's one detail out of the way, but I continue to dream about moving to Far North Queensland.

I know YANAD, but what could be going on here? Do I just have a faulty internal thermostat? Thank you.

(Age: almost 40)
posted by Melismata to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I have Hashimoto's thyroiditis. My thyroid levels are always within the normal range, but I have antibodies that attack my thyroid and dampen my metabolism. Ask you internist to check for antibodies and to do an ultrasound of your thyroid.
posted by Sara Anne at 8:57 AM on January 28, 2008

I have a very low body temp, and always have, and so does my mom. (I run about 96 degrees.) I also have very low blood pressure.

I've always been told that temp is more variable that the stereotype and that there's nothing wrong with me.

Not sure if that helps, but at least you're not alone!
posted by miss tea at 9:17 AM on January 28, 2008

Which tests has your doctor done? The standards are T4 and tsh to begin with, but if Free T3 and antibodies (anti-TPO and TgAb) aren't also tested, the tests might be missing something. A low basal temperature is one of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism (and some doctors even use it as a diagnostic tool). Do you have any other hypo symptoms as well?
posted by vers at 9:21 AM on January 28, 2008

TSH and TRH can also be tested these days, I believe.
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 9:31 AM on January 28, 2008

I have a very low body temp, and always have, and so does my mom. (I run about 96 degrees.) I also have very low blood pressure.

I've always been told that temp is more variable that the stereotype and that there's nothing wrong with me.

Not sure if that helps, but at least you're not alone!
posted by miss tea at 12:17 PM on January 28 [+] [!]

I also have low body temp and very low blood pressure, and I too am cold all the time.

AFAIK my thyroid is normal.
posted by konolia at 9:39 AM on January 28, 2008

Poor circulation would be my first guest after thyroid problems. Honestly if you get your TSH tested and it's normal, your FREE TS3/TS4 values still may be off.

I'd see an endocrinologist for a consult. Tell him every symptom you have (no matter how small, they matter!) and he'll run a variety of tests on you.

This helped me out a lot:

Good luck.
posted by Schuby at 9:43 AM on January 28, 2008

Sorry, my link didn't post correctly. It's: Stop the Thyroid Madness!
posted by Schuby at 9:44 AM on January 28, 2008

I was always the same way, and my thyroid was always normal. Turned out what wasn't normal was my insulin levels. I was diagnosed with insulin resistance several years ago and put on a high-protein/low-carbohydrate eating plan, and within days my body temperature normalized. Apparently being cold all the time, especially cold hands/feet, is common among those of us with endocrine issues.

I'm not sure what the scientific basis for this is, but am guessing here: prior to my dietary changes, I ate a lot of processed food and not much protein, so I'm leaning toward thinking it was some sort of deficiency, possibly protein or zinc.
posted by chez shoes at 9:54 AM on January 28, 2008

This is really interesting to me as I have a lot of thyroid symptoms (including always being cold) and seem to get tested every year for it, but without any results indicating anything was wrong.

One thing that I ask you to consider is that some doctors get really upset and irritated when you tell them you heard this on the Internet or that you got advice on the Internet. I don't blame them for this - they're only human, but also know that most of the time what people get from the Internet is misinformation. I think there are a lot of helpful tips and leads here, though, and what I personally am going to do when I see the doctor is tell him or her that several friends shared their experiences with me and show him or her some handwritten notes, thus dropping the Internet thing altogether. I think it may help the doctor to be more accepting of these leads.
posted by bristolcat at 10:14 AM on January 28, 2008

Do you know which thyroid test you had and what the result was? I had a bunch of hypothyroid symptoms, and my TSH was within what most doctors would consider normal, but up towards the upper end of the spectrum. However, there's a group of doctors that think the normal range is too wide and discounts a lot of "quality of life" issues for women. My doctor being one of those, she recommended I take meds and see if it helped. A whole bunch of things have improved: I'm no longer freezing all the time, my skin isn't as dry (and itchy), and a few other things that I don't want to get into have gotten sooo much better :) Schuby's link is a good one (though I'm on Synthroid rather than Armour). Read the list of symptoms and see how many you have, then discuss it as a quality of life issue with your doctor if you think that's what it is.
posted by doubtful_guest at 11:56 AM on January 28, 2008

A relative of mine has this exact problem (in the summer he mows the lawn wearing a sweater). He does not have a thyroid problem, but he does have Lyme Disease.
posted by ellenaim at 12:30 PM on January 28, 2008

I have the same cold problem. I have hypoglycemia (a mild case, though I definitely get a bad case of some of those listed symptoms from time to time). Did your internist check for that?
posted by ctmf at 6:05 PM on January 28, 2008

ctmf - just wanted to point out that hypoglycemia was the first symptom I had that led to my insulin resistance diagnosis.

It was my experience that it's difficult to find a GP who will take it seriously. But a good endocrinologist who is up-to-date with scholarly literature should.
posted by chez shoes at 7:11 AM on January 29, 2008

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