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Why am I so much warmer than everyone else?

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The question

I'm always hot. While everyone is wearing a sweater in my workplace, I'm sweating in a tank top. Why am I so much warmer than everyone else?

The answer

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Our bodies have a remarkable capacity to regulate our internal temperature regardless of how hot or cold the external environment is. This regulation is an active process that results from the interaction of several hormonal, nervous system and metabolic factors.

When there is a disruption in these processes, the regulation system breaks down and you end up feeling too cold or too hot.

It sounds like you are certainly warmer than your colleagues at work, which may be due to something in your environment or due to an underlying medical condition. I recommend seeing your doctor to review what the possible cause could be and if it is reversible. In preparation for seeing your doctor, consider the following questions:

Are you feeling overheated in all environments or only at work?

If you are only feeling this way at work, it may point to something specific in your environment that may be causing this overheated sensation, such as a heating vent near your desk or different humidity settings compared to home.

Does this happen just at certain times or all day long?

If your heat intolerance is intermittent, it may help identify certain behaviours or conditions, such as hot flashes in menopause, that may be contributing to your situation.

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Do you have any other symptoms such as diarrhea, changes in hair consistency, bowel changes, sweating, flushing or weight loss?

Increased frequency of bowel movements, thinning of hair, sweating or weight loss can all be due to a hyperactive thyroid, which can be diagnosed with simple blood tests. Flushing, a sudden reddening of the face, neck or upper chest, can be associated with adrenal gland conditions.

If you're a woman, have you experienced a change in your menstrual pattern or are you approaching menopause?

Women their mid-40s and 50s can have regular temperature changes caused by hormonal fluctuations, which can make them not only very hot but also uncomfortable.

Are you feverish or in pain? Were you recently sick?

Certain infections can take some time to leave the body and result in intermittent increases in temperature.

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If there isn't any medical reason found through testing, it may be that you are sensitive to certain environmental triggers. Some heat-inducing foods can trigger an increase in internal temperature, such as spicy and sour foods. Even some stimulant drugs (any that contain amphetamine), caffeinated food and beverages can also worsen heat intolerance.

By avoiding these potential triggers, you may be able to better manage your internal thermostat.

Send family doctor Sheila Wijayasinghe your questions at She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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