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Mother and son getting dressed warm in winter

Keeping Warm In Winter: Why Am I Always Cold?

Between the shorter days and frosty commutes, keeping warm in winter can sometimes feel like an impossible task – especially with potentially large energy bills discouraging people from just flicking the heating on.

However, feeling cold all the time might not just a symptom of wintry conditions. From an underactive thyroid to fighting off a cold or flu, there are a few reasons why you might be struggling to keep warm in winter.

In this article, we will talk through top tips for keeping warm at home, as well as why you may be always cold and tired.

Why am I always cold?

While you’ll inevitably feel the nip of colder temperatures, what about if you feel cold all the time, even when wrapped up in thick blankets and multiple layers?

Well, there are a few ailments that can impact your body temperature and cause you to feel cold all the time - the most common of which is an infection like a cold or the flu.

Bear in mind that your normal body temperature should be between 36°C to 37°C. So, should your body temperature frequently drop below this threshold, leaving you always cold and tired, then it could be an indicator of the following:

1. Diabetes

Diabetes is one of the most common ailments that could be causing you to feel cold all the time. In fact, around 4.3 million people in the UK are living with diabetes.

And, due to the potential kidney and circulation issues caused by diabetes, you could feel cold all the time. What’s more, it’s important to stay warm in winter when you have diabetes, as cold weather can worsen some symptoms of the condition, such as:

  • Feeling thirsty more often.
  • Peeing frequently, especially at night.
  • Recurrent thrush.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Weight loss.

Whilst this may not be the case for you, if in doubt, do consider getting a professional opinion.

To find out more about diabetes and whether you need to see a GP, read our article on diabetes and its symptoms.

2. Anaemia

Anaemia is a condition that occurs when your blood does not have enough healthy red blood cells, which means you don’t get enough oxygen to your body’s tissue and organs. As a result, you might feel cold all the time if you have anaemia, but you may also experience:

  • Feeling tired.
  • Lacking energy.
  • Pale skin.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Heart palpitations.

There are a few types of anaemia but the most common is iron deficiency anaemia. If you’re struggling to keep warm at home due to anaemia, you can try to alleviate these symptoms by taking iron supplements or by introducing more iron-rich foods, such as:

  • Dark leafy greens (kale, watercress).
  • Red meat.
  • Dried fruit (apricots, raisins).
  • Beans.
  • Lentils.

However, if you are feeling cold all the time, tired, or are experiencing other symptoms of anaemia, it is best to see your GP for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

3. Underactive thyroid (Hypothyroidism)

Your thyroid is a small gland, located in the front of your neck, which plays a big role in temperature regulation.

So, if you’re feeling cold all the time, you might have an underactive thyroid (also known as hypothyroidism). This means your thyroid does not produce enough hormones, which slows your body’s metabolism, leaving you feeling cold all the time. Other symptoms can include:

  • Tiredness.
  • Weight gain.
  • Feeling depressed.
  • Hair loss.
  • Dry skin.

To find out more about hypothyroidism, take a look at our early warning signs of thyroid problems article.

How to stay warm in winter

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with an underactive thyroid or you just want to shake off the winter chill, it always pays to know how to keep warm at home without breaking the bank.

We’ve pulled together some top tips to help you stop feeling cold and keep yourself warm this winter:

1. Keep your feet warm

Keeping your feet warm allows blood vessels to dilate, which, in turn, encourages blood flow and distributes heat to the rest of your body. So, to stop feeling cold all the time and keep warm in winter, it’s best to wear weather appropriate socks and shoes.

Try layering thermal socks underneath a pair of wool socks. The thermal socks will help to insulate your feet, while the wool socks will absorb any sweat from your feet, helping your socks stay dry thus keeping your feet warm.

2. Layer up thin clothing

Instead of wearing one chunky jumper, it’s typically better to layer up thinner clothing to trap your body heat and keep warm at home or on the move.

For the best results, start with a thermal base layer to insulate body heat – although it’s best to avoid wearing cotton as it can trap moisture, causing you to feel colder over time. Then, to keep warm at home, add a t-shirt and a jumper or fleece for full coverage.

If you’re leaving the house to brave the elements, remember to add a waterproof layer too, as wet clothes can very quickly ruin your layers of warmth. 

3. Winterproof your diet

While you may first turn to thick jumpers and fleeces to keep you warm in winter, did you know that you can help keep warm by just adding certain foods to your diet?

Food items like carbohydrates, whole grains, and red meats are great for warming you up in colder weather. The process of digesting food can raise your body temperature, so foods that take a long time to digest, such as protein, can keep you warm for a bit longer.

A great drink option for keeping warm in winter is herbal teas, especially masala chai, and ginger tea. Alongside the warming effect of a hot drink, the cinnamon spice in masala chai can help keep you warm, while ginger tea can give your immune system a boost as well as help you stay warm in winter.

If an infection is leaving you cold all the time and you’re looking for more of the best foods for a cold or flu, or if you’d like some tips to boost your mental health in winter, check out our Be Healthy hub.

Medically reviewed by Llinos Connolly in December 2023.