How Cold Hands & Feet Can Signal A Hormonal Imbalance

Specifically, freezing digits can shed light on a thyroid issue. Your thyroid is like your body’s “battery pack,” says Dunston, as it sets the rate at which your body burns fuel. “The thyroid tells your body to open up the fat and get that fuel going,” she says. “That hormone is going to all your cells and telling them how to utilize fuel to function.”

So when your thyroid is low, your machinery won’t run as well, so to speak. “It’s like all your cells don’t want to get out of bed,” Dunston says. You might move slowly, feel tired, and—you guessed it—have poor circulation. That’s why some with low thyroid can’t seem to warm up. In fact, research showed that 40% of participants with low-thyroid felt more sensitive to cold. Another study touts cold intolerance as a skin manifestation of hypothyroidism (aka, the condition for underactive thyroid). 

Of course, that’s not to say if you have cold extremities you immediately have a hormonal issue—poor circulation can happen for a number of reasons, not all of them relating to hormones. It’s not always end-all-be-all, but Dunston recommends seeing the forest for the trees: Say, if you can’t lose stubborn weight and have trouble sleeping, anxiety, hair loss, and cold hands and feet, you might want to check up on those hormones. “If you have any of those additional symptoms, that can alert you to a thyroid problem,” Dunston adds. 

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