One frustration with Raynaud’s is that there’s no definitive scientific test for diagnosing the condition. While there are blood tests and diagnostics to determine if a patient’s Raynaud’s is a by-product of a more serious autoimmune disorder, only through a review of symptoms with your doctor or by a medical professional witnessing an attack can you be formally diagnosed.
But you know you’re cold all of the time. What other reason could there be for this discomfort? Other potential explanations may relate to:
- Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid) - Among other functions, the thyroid acts as a thermostat to regulate how we burn calories. If we’re not burning enough fuel, the body doesn’t tolerate the cold as easily. Cold intolerance can be an early sign of hypothyroidism.
- Iron Deficiency – Related to the above, iron deficiency is a common cause of hypothyroidism. Women are particularly susceptible to lower levels of iron in their blood.
- Stress – Chronic stress can also be a contributor to thyroid issues. There are the more obvious causes of emotional stress that take their toll on the body, but there’s also physical stress from causes such as infections, blood sugar swings, and gut dysfunction.
No wonder these facts can be confusing. Stress also triggers Raynaud’s attacks. Gut dysfunction can result in autoimmune reactions and the development of a disorder to which Raynaud’s may be or become secondary. Hypothyroidism can be caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis – in itself an autoimmune disorder to which Raynaud’s can be secondary. It becomes a difficult cycle to dissect when trying to determine the source of a patient’s cold intolerance.
When Raynaud’s is secondary to another more serious autoimmune disorder, the primary ailment needs to be addressed in order to best treat the patient’s Raynaud’s symptoms. That’s why it’s important to work with a rheumatologist – these are the specialists who treat the more serious autoimmune diseases that can be associated with Raynaud’s and help answer the question “Why am I always cold?”