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Feature Stories

Feeling colder as you get older?

Does the cold seem to affect you more these days? A lot remains a mystery about how bodies adjust to temperature changes. Some experts say normal aging may affect their ability to counter cold. Others say health problems or lifestyle habits are more at play.

Boosting your internal thermostat

Either way, if you feel cold all the time, talk to your doctor. You may have a health problem that affects how the body handles cold. Possible culprits: circulation problems and conditions that limit activity, like arthritis.

Certain drugs can lower body temperature. They include some cold remedies and some prescription drugs for anxiety, depression, and nausea. Before taking any drugs, ask your doctor how they might affect body heat.

Making some healthy changes may help you stay warmer.

  • Exercise to generate body heat.
  • Limit alcohol. It lowers a body's ability to retain heat.
  • Dress properly for the weather, and don't let temperatures fool you. Brisk winds cause rapid loss of heat – even if the temperature is fairly high. Also check your thermostat. Even mildly cool temperatures of 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit can cause body temperatures to drop.

Any time you feel unusually cold, check for these signs of hypothermia, including a weak pulse, confusion, slurred speech, and a temperature below 96 degrees Fahrenheit.

Older people are more likely to develop hypothermia than younger people. If you suspect you may have hypothermia, wrap yourself in a blanket and get to a hospital emergency room.