Why does body temperature change with age?

While gray hair and wrinkles are visible signs of aging, other signs such as temperature sensitivity may not be as evident. Heat and cold intolerances are common among people in their 70s or 80s due to the following reasons:

  • Thin skin
  • Shrunken muscle mass
  • Lower body fat percentage
  • Reduced functional capacity of the sweat glands

These changes in body distribution affect our body's thermoregulation and lead to increased temperature sensitivity. However, the onset of temperature intolerances earlier in life could be a result of one of the following medical conditions:

  • Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia, that affect how hot or cold you feel.
  • Nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin C, vitamin B12, or folic acid deficiency that can affect the body’s temperature.
  • Thyroid diseases such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis that can alter your temperature sensitivity levels and make you feel cold.
  • Exposure to radiotherapy treatments for head and neck cancers that can affect your thyroid and alter how you perceive temperature.

Age-related heat and cold intolerances can be managed through lifestyle changes such as:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Wearing weather-appropriate clothing.
  • Building muscle through resistance training.
  • Being mindful of the heat index in the summer and the wind chill factor during the winter months.

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