Cold Intolerance, Hashimoto’s & What to Do About It

By December 5, 2017 No Comments

Your thyroid governs your metabolic rate and so anything that impacts its function – like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – will make dealing with temperature extremes tough. It just can’t compensate for winter’s chill by devoting more energy to heating your body from within, and where does that leave you? Fuh-reezing your buns off!

Cold intolerance is a common symptom of Hashimoto’s and a super frustrating one. The thyroid gland is like your body’s thermostat but when it has been ravaged by autoimmunity, it doesn’t do a very good job. Maybe you feel like you’re literally melting all summer long. Then autumn comes around and sweater weather hits you like an arctic squall. If you’re like us, you hope that the heat intolerance will carry over but nope.  

It’s not just about comfort, either. Sure, it stinks to be doubling up on thermal tights while everyone else is throwing on a light jacket but people with hypothyroidism? Are actually more prone to hypothermia!

It would be nice if all of us Hashimoto’s patients could hibernate through the winter under a down comforter (or three) but for most of us, it’s not happening. We have to get up and get on with our lives, chill or no chill. Maybe you’ve googled Hashimoto’s and cold intolerance and found a lot of articles offering up diagnoses, but very few strategies for fighting off that icy feeling that seems to come from inside!

We want to change that. We’ve put together a list of ways to cope with the cold intolerance that is a symptom of Hashimoto’s so you can make it through the winter feeling cozier and happier than ever before. Here’s what you do:

  1. Stay warm from the start. Wrap up in layers the second you get out from under your warm covers to keep in some of that coziness. It’s easier to stay warm than to warm back up!
  2. Run a space heater while you shower. If step out of a hot shower into a warm room, then put on warm layers, your body won’t have a chance to cool down. If you can’t heat yourself up from the inside out, warm up from the outside in!
  3. Get more sleep. Hashimoto’s affects sleeping patterns so this is a tough one, but recognize that you may need more rest during the chillier months and do what you can to get the sleep you need.
  4. Take iron (if you need it). An iron deficiency can make hypothyroid symptoms – especially cold intolerance – flare up, and Hashimoto’s can lead to bad iron absorption. Having an active MTHFR mutation can make it worse. Have your practitioner check your ferritin levels.
  5. Weatherproof your home. Cranking the heat isn’t financially feasible for a lot of us so do what you can to keep the heat you have. Add weatherstripping to windows and doors, add another layer of insulation with window film, and hang insulated curtains on all your windows.
  6. Heat your feet! You probably can’t control the office thermostat but you’ll be surprised at how comforting a small space heater set under your desk can be.
  7. Don’t go out unless you have to. Someone needs to keep the cocoa hot while everyone else is out throwing snowballs. Volunteer to keep an eye on everyone’s stuff at the ski lodge. Order groceries with Amazon Fresh. Admire the freshly fallen snow from inside!
  8. Try bellows breath yoga. Bhastrika breathing is said to increase the life force, boost energy, and warm you up so why not give it a try?
  9. Dress in layers! It’s folksy but it works! Slipping a cozy vest under a jacket or pulling on a pair of soft socks before donning slippers makes a difference because more layers can trap more warm air.
  10. Get your daily dose of B. A vitamin B deficiency can make you more sensitive to cold and – shocker – people with Hashimoto’s tend to have trouble absorbing enough B vitamins.
  11. Come home to a hot bath. Baby, it’s cold outside, and instead of just dealing with the chill after your commute, have a long soak and then put on some comfy pajamas while your body temp is up.
  12. Eat thermogenic foods. Some foods and spices are known to give your metabolism a boost (e.g., turmeric, carob, avocado, duck fat) and may help warm you up.
  13. Sip hot tea. Again, it sounds folksy but a steaming mug of Hashimoto’s friendly tea is going to help warm you up – and hydrate you, too.
  14. Talk about it. Don’t be ashamed to let friends and family know you feel cold pretty much all the time. Ask them if they wouldn’t mind starting a cheerful fire before your visit and to add hot non-alcoholic beverages to the holiday party menu.
  15. Embrace the Danish concept hygge. Pronounced hue-guh, it’s a feeling of cozy contentment that usually comes wrapped up in thick woolen socks, toasty fires, and time spent at home with people you care about. Who says you need to go out to celebrate, anyway?
  16. Buy an electric throw. And some hand warmers. And USB-powered fingerless heated gloves. If your body can’t produce its own heat, store bought is fine 🙂

That frost in your bones? Is part of the autoimmune life. But if you’re the kind of person who makes new year’s resolutions, why not resolve to make it a warmer, cozier, more hygge kind of life? You can survive the chill of hypothyroidism or you can let Hashimoto’s inspire you to double down on creature comforts this winter.

Stoke the fire, brew the tea, grab a throw and your favorite book! Hibernation? Who needs it!