Excess Heat Can Have Many Causes
Dear Dr. Roach: I am a 66-year-old woman who usually is too hot. When I tell my doctors, they just sort of laugh it off. It is making my life miserable because if I keep the heat or air conditioning where it is comfortable for me, it is too cold for others. I hate summer and stay inside in the air conditioning. I keep the temperature in my house at 64 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and winter. I know other members of my family do not tolerate being out in the sun when it’s hot, but they aren’t plagued with being too hot otherwise.
The sensation of being too warm comes and goes. I am about 40 pounds overweight, and have been for most of my life. The sensitivity has intensified as I’ve aged. I had a hysterectomy in my 30s, and I know some of my hormones were off. — J.R.
Answer: Heat intolerance is common and has several possible causes. The short list includes excess thyroid hormones, loss of estrogen and being overweight. The long list includes, among many others, some serious conditions, such as polycythemia vera (a blood disorder of having too many red blood cells), inflammation of blood vessels, multiple sclerosis and tumors that secrete substances that can affect blood vessels, such as carcinoid or pheochromocytoma. These are uncommon to rare diseases and usually have other symptoms, and many would likely have progressed over time.
The part of your story that bothers me is that this has been bothering you for years and your doctors haven’t taken it seriously.