Are You Becoming Cold-Sensitive?

by Kristin Thorson, Fibromyalgia Network Editor
Posted: May 30, 2008

As people get older, they often relocate to places with a warmer climate. In fact, purchasing a retirement home in a sunny location (such as southern Arizona or Florida) to live in during the winter months is fairly common for those who can afford it. This quest for humans to escape cold weather during their retirement years may have a physiological basis according to Robert Yezierski, Ph.D., and his team at the University of Florida, who looked at the sensitivity to heat and cold stimuli as rats age.

Many chronic, painful conditions tend to increase with age, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and fibromyalgia. “Important to understanding these conditions is the question of how advancing age changes the processing and ultimately the perception of pain,” comments Yezierski in his study presented at the May 2008 American Pain Society (APS) meeting.

Rats of varying ages were injected in the hind paws with a substance that causes a temporary state of inflamation and discomfort. Next they were evaluated for changes in thermal sensitivity as a function of advancing age using four different age groups: 8 months, 16 months, 24 months and 32 months. In rat time, 8-10 months of age is considered mature, while 37 months is considered “very old.” The rats were tested to determine their relative degree of thermal preference and the speed at which they escaped cold and hot environments (50 degrees F and 112 degrees F).

Yezierski found that the older the rat, the greater their preference to heat (i.e., aversion to cold), implying an increased cold sensitivity as animals age. He also found that the speed at which the 32-month old rats escaped from the cold and hot environments was faster than for any of the other age groups. In fact, the 8- and 16-month old rats were not bothered by exposure to the hot/cold climates.

Although this study was done in rats, not humans, it lends support to the common phenomena expressed by retirement-aged people who can no longer stand the cold and also tend to develop an aversion to extremely hot climates.

8 Responses to Are You Becoming Cold-Sensitive?

  1. Cherie Mansfield says:

    61, hate the cold, and yes the older I get the more misserable I am.
    I have Fm, osteoarthris, and all issues associated with them. I also cannot stand the heat, which I used to love. Also I am female.

  2. Stephanie Yuill says:

    I am one of those rats that could not stand the cold and moved to a warmer climate. I have chronic pain as well as Fibro pain. I lived in an area of extreme temps., from 110 in the summers to 0 degrees in the winter. Barometric pressure was one of my worst enemies, I would be in such pain prior to change in weather patterns, I spent more time in bed then not. I now live in FL full time.

  3. Michaeleen Boudeman says:

    I did exactly this. I purchased a home in southeast Florida hoping it would help my fibromyalgia/ chronic fatigue. So far, no help.

  4. eva says:

    I have fibro cfs for many yrs. The cold just makes it worse the pain is sometimes so unbearable that I can hardly walk. I live in northern nj and would love to move to florida to help but financially I cannot. Make the move even though it is very. Expensive here I can’t save any money to move. I hqve a 16 year old daughter to take care of. This is very hard

  5. Gail Riley says:

    When I was in my teens and 20s, the cold never phased me. I could hang outside in winter with barely anything on. Now, just the slightest change to cold weather and I’m bundled up and can still feel it settling into my bones, aching all over…weird and a bummer…

  6. Uda Gross says:

    I moved to Tucson Arizona… most of the months I do better… still affected by cold and moisture at times. In general my body enjoys the dryer warmer climate. I am 42 and have had fibromyalgia related issues since my early 20′s.

  7. LAURA MASUOD says:


  8. paula says:

    i have fibro and arthritis… i find i am sensitive to either temp extreme..cold is much worse tho… any type of moisture (rain or snow) or humidity only serves to intensify the pain and discomfort :( .

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