Feeling Cold When It’s Hot: Why are You Getting Chills in Hot Weather?

Fact checked by Megan Soliman MD, MSc
Board-certified physician at Saba University School of Medicine

Notice your feet or hands are always cold? Or maybe recently you’ve started feeling cold when it is hot outside? Let’s find out what may be causing your cold intolerance and what you can do to stay warm in any weather.

4 Reasons why you may be getting chills in hot weather

Some people naturally feel colder than others, and it’s usually nothing to worry about. But if you’re often getting chills, even in hot and humid weather, your body may be trying to tell you something.

1. Anemia

People with anemia don’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen and nutrients throughout their bodies. Often, it is caused by iron deficiency: without enough iron, red blood cells can’t do their job properly, so you tend to feel colder. Iron deficiency can also lead to hypothyroidism, which may be another cause of your feeling cold.

A woman feeling cold in hot weather

To determine whether you have anemia, make an appointment to do a blood test to check your iron levels. Your healthcare provider can prescribe iron supplements or a special diet in case of any problems. Some of the iron-rich foods, for example, are lean meats, green vegetables, and dried fruits. Make sure to include them in your diet to keep your iron levels up.

2. Hypothyroidism

The thyroid gland helps to regulate your metabolic rate or support your overall health. When it is underactive, your metabolism decreases and you may feel cold, even on warm days.

You may also notice other symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin, nails, and hair
  • Puffy face
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory

Hypothyroidism can be successfully treated with daily medication, so discuss your symptoms with your doctor to get diagnosed. You may feel warmer very soon after starting your treatment.

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3. Dehydration

Water supports proper cellular and tissue function, and blood circulation as well as helps to regulate body temperature. When you're dehydrated, your body redirects blood flow from your extremities to keep vital organs, such as your heart and lungs warm, so your hands and feet may feel colder as they receive less circulation.

It is recommended to drink at least eight glasses of water a day to stay well hydrated.

But you may need more than that, especially when exercising. Listen to your body and make sure to get a drink of water whenever you feel thirsty.

4. Malnutrition

When underweight, your body lacks the necessary nutrients and struggles to produce enough heat. You may also lack body fat to shield you from the cold. As a result, you start getting chills even in hot weather.

If you’re not eating enough you may also experience symptoms like:

  • Fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Pale skin
  • Irregular heart rate
  • In women, missed periods, or heavy menstrual cycles

Malnutrition is a serious condition. Talk to your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms to avoid complications.

A balanced diet, containing foods that give you a recommended daily amount of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, can get your body back on track. Include foods rich in B vitamins, such as whole grains, oats, brown rice, and healthy proteins like oily fish to fill your body with energy.

Can you get a fever due to hot weather?

Your body may struggle to regulate its core temperature, especially in hot, humid weather. When this happens, you may develop a heat illness. Your risk of a heat illness is higher when you:

  • Exercise or work in the heat
  • Are dehydrated
  • Are overweight or underweight
  • Are over 65 years old
  • Drink alcohol in the heat
  • Take medication that can make you more sensitive to high temperatures

When your body takes in more heat than it can release, your body temperature rises and you may feel like you run a fever — but it’s not quite the same thing. When you have a heat illness, your body temperature goes above its normal level, controlled by your hypothalamus. But when you have a fever, your hypothalamus itself increases your body temperature to ward off any infections or illnesses.

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Signs of heat exhaustion

One of the most common heat illnesses is heat exhaustion. It usually occurs after spending a long time in the heat and direct sunlight. Your risks of heat exhaustion are higher when you’re exercising and not drinking enough water.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion to look out for include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Light-headedness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea

When untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to a more serious condition, such as heat stroke. If you notice any signs of heat exhaustion, you should:

  • Stop any physical activity and rest in a cool, well-ventilated place.
  • Remove heavy or tight clothing.
  • Drink cool water or special sports drinks with electrolytes.
  • Apply a cool compress to your skin.

Seek immediate medical help if your symptoms are not improving.

Feeling hot without a fever

Sometimes you may feel hot but have a low body temperature. In some cases, the reason for this may be as simple as eating spicy foods or experiencing stress and anxiety.

But feeling hot for no obvious reason can be a sign of an underlying condition like a hormone imbalance.

If you often feel feverish for no reason but your body temperature remains low, check with your doctor. They can identify the cause of your feeling hot and check for any undiagnosed medical problem.

A woman with a stack of jumpers getting chills in hot weather

What to do when you’re feeling cold in hot weather

Feeling cold, even in hot weather can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. So treatment options will depend on the cause of your cold intolerance. Talk with your doctor about what might be causing your symptoms.

In the meantime, these simple steps can help you warm up:

  • Eat regular, balanced meals to fuel your body with energy.
  • Include foods rich in iron and B vitamins, such as poultry, leafy green vegetables, and chickpeas.
  • Add some spice to your dishes to feel the heat.
  • Stay hydrated — opt for warm drinks if you’re feeling chilly.
  • Get your body moving to improve blood circulation.

Wrapping up

Some people can feel colder than others. Usually, it isn’t any cause for concern. But if you’re often getting chills, even in hot weather, it could be a sign of a health problem. Get your symptoms checked out by a medical professional. They can suggest a treatment option that will help you feel warmer.

Staying hydrated in any weather can help your body efficiently regulate its core temperature. Eating a balanced and healthy diet and keeping active can also make you feel warmer. But go easy on the exercise when it’s hot outside to avoid heat exhaustion.

August 19, 2022