- 25 Nov - 01 Dec, 2023
WHY YOU FEEL COLDER WITH AGE AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT?
- 11 Nov - 17 Nov, 2023
- health & nutrition
Wearing a light jacket in the dead of winter kept you warm and cosy when you were younger. But now you're turning up the heat in your house and layering on extra sweaters to stay warm. What's going on? Don't worry, you're not hallucinating. As you get older, your body temperature drops. Increased cold sensitivity is frequently a normal part of the ageing process. However, it can occasionally indicate a more serious health issue. The experts explain why you might feel colder as you get older and offers tips on how to keep your body heat in check.
Your Circulation Decreases
As you get older, your blood vessels become less flexible and can no longer function properly. They can't constrict or circulate blood as well as they used to. According to healthcare experts, when your vessels are unable to properly pump blood, your body will struggle to retain heat. Cold hands and feet, in particular, may indicate a circulation issue.
Your Skin Is Thinner
When you think of ageing and your skin, wrinkles are probably the first thing that comes to mind. Other age-related changes in your skin, however, affect your body's temperature control. According to the National Library of Medicine, our innermost layer of skin, known as the subcutaneous layer, thins out as we age (NLM). Because this layer contains fat, when it thins, we lose insulation and padding, making it more difficult to conserve body heat. In other words, fat acts as a protective blanket that keeps us warm, and with a thinner blanket to keep us warm, we're more likely to feel chilly, according to Dr. Markland.
Your Metabolic Rate Decreases
You've probably heard that metabolism slows as you get older. According to Piedmont Healthcare, your basal metabolic rate – the number of calories your body burns at rest – will drop by 30% by the age of 50. While slowed metabolism is usually associated with age-related weight gain, it can also affect how your body regulates temperature. According to Harvard Health Publishing, your metabolism is in charge of many chemical processes that keep your body running, including converting food into energy to support things like breathing, circulation, digestion, and many other life-sustaining tasks. When your metabolic rate slows, these processes suffer as well, resulting in increased sensitivity to cold. Take circulation, for example. As your metabolism slows, your blood vessels may be slower to constrict to conserve body heat in chilly temperatures, per Providence Healthcare.
You Have an Underlying Medical Condition
Some health issues are more common in older adults and may necessitate the use of additional blankets. Certain disorders, such as heart disease, kidney disease, and anaemia, can impede blood flow and lower body temperature. Furthermore, thyroid conditions such as hypothyroidism affect your metabolic rate and your ability to regulate your body's temperature. Other diseases such as diabetes can damage your nerves and cause neuropathy (i.e., feelings of cold, numbness, or a tingly sensation typically in the hands and feet). Neuropathy can even make older adults more susceptible to hypothermia, an abnormally low body temperature that can be potentially life-threatening.
It’s a Side Effect of Your Medication
As we age, we are more likely to develop medical conditions that necessitate medication. And these drugs are sometimes the source of the chill in your bones. The beta blockers and calcium channel blockers, which are used to treat high blood pressure, are common culprits that can cause cold extremities. This is because these medications can reduce blood flow to your hands and feet.
TIPS FOR KEEPING WARM
While you may not be able to control your ageing body's ability to conserve heat, experts recommend the following strategies for staying warm:
• Set your heat to at least 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Weatherproof your windows to prevent heat loss in your home.
• Even if you're staying inside on a cold day, dress warmly.
• When you go to bed, dress warmly (wear long underwear under your pyjamas and use extra covers).
• Maintain a healthy weight to ensure you have enough fat in your body to insulate it and keep you warm.
• Limit your intake of alcohol, which can cause you to lose body heat.
• Wear a waterproof coat or jacket if it's raining outside, and change your clothes as soon as they get damp or wet.
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