Medical Matters > Symptom: Hot or Cold Extremities

ME Essential Winter 2020

Question

Like most people with ME/CFS I‘m very sensitive to changes in temperature and find the cold winter weather is very difficult to deal with. So do you have any tips on keeping warm when it gets really cold?

Answer

Problems with thermoregulation (= temperature control) are very common in ME/CFS. It’s important to make sure that you don’t have another medical problem – hypothyroidism in particular – that could be causing problems with temperature control when you are really feeling the cold. So do talk to your doctor before concluding that this is ‘just another ME/CFS problem’. Your GP can do a simple blood test to check your thyroid function and examine your pulses and circulation. Here are some self-help tips on dealing with cold weather:

  • Avoid touching cold surfaces and objects and wear insulated gloves for the fridge or freezer.
  • After a bath leave the water in while you dress it will still give off heat to help keep you warm.
  • Use a hairdryer for warming clothes and shoes.
  • Stop smoking – smoking can reduce the temperature by one degree over a 20 minute period.
  • Use warm air hand dryers when in public places.
  • Keep clothes and shoes for the next day in the airing cupboard.
  • Alcohol in moderation can help to stimulate the circulation but do not mix alcohol with medication (yes – most people with ME/CFS are alcohol intolerant)
  • Keep doors closed, an open front door can drastically reduce the temperature in your house.
  • Use shoulder bags – not bags with handles as these can restrict blood flow to the fingers.

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MEDICAL DISCLAIMER

Medical Matters is for information purposes only. The answers provided by Dr Shepherd and the ME Association’s other expert advisers should not be construed as medical advice. We recommend that any information you deem relevant is discussed with your GP as soon as possible. It is important to obtain advice from a GP who is in charge of your clinical care, who knows you well, and who can consider other likely causes for symptoms. Seek personalised medical advice whenever a new symptom arises, or an existing symptom worsens. Don't assume that new or worsened symptoms are a result of having ME/CFS.

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