What is your body telling you when you get the chills?

What is your body telling you when you get the chills?

You can expect to get the chills when in a cold environment or if you have a cold or the flu. While chills and fever often come together, they don’t necessarily have to.

Chills are brought on by your muscles expanding and contracting; it’s your body’s attempt to burn energy to keep you warm. By themselves, the chills are not an illness but can signal that an illness might be causing them.

Dr. Scott Carrington, a family medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group, explains that sometimes the chills are the start of an illness and a fever may soon follow. It is very important to monitor this and consult a physician if a fever does present. Sometimes an infectious or systemic illness might bring on the chills, Dr. Carrington says. The infection or illness causes the immune system to shift the body’s temperature upward as a defense mechanism, which conversely results in the sensation of feeling cold.

But the chills aren’t always accompanied by a fever.  According to Dr. Carrington, the most common causes of chills with no fever are:

  • Anemia: a common blood disorder
  • Anxiety: anxiety disorder is a serious mental illness
  • Hypoglycemia: low blood sugar
  • Hypothyroidism: thyroid gland is not active enough
  • Prescription drugs: chills can be a side effect

“You should consult with your physician if your chills occur often, do not go away, or if you have a prolonged fever,” says Dr. Carrington. “It is important to take note of other symptoms that may give your physician more information to determine why you get the chills.”

Are you trying to find a doctor? Look here if you live in Illinois. Look here if you live in Wisconsin. 

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  1. If I mix two antibiotics and now have chills

  2. I had my right breast removed one month ago. I am NOT on anastozole yet. I am having chills and sweats. for a week now my question is this could the reason because of the mastectomy

  3. Had chills for 24 hours it comes n goes with fever being controlled with Tylenol it also hurts when I urinate plus had diarrhea

  4. Russell, this sound like possible UTI, possible kidney infection since you have diarrhea. Get to your MD NOW..but..I do hope you already seen one

  5. Bonnie Gatewood March 4, 2019 at 9:07 pm · Reply

    I have been coughing most.of the day getting worse as the day went on. Now I have had cold chills for about 2 hours

  6. My 68 year old husband was awakened during his sleep by uncontrollable “shakes” while feeling cold. Temp in house was fine. No fever. Blood sugar tested and fine. Lasted 3 1/2 hours. Now sore all over (I think because of shaking for so long?). Was rxd Clindamycin earlier in the day. Any ideas?

    • Suzanne Cedrone June 2, 2020 at 10:00 am · Reply

      Patti, did you ever get an anwer? Same thing for my husband last night.

      • Mary Jo Hawkins July 6, 2020 at 8:14 pm

        Not a Dr. but I am sensitive to certain antibiotics/medications. So chills with or without fever, can signal a sensitivity. Low potassium can give shakes, chills and muscle soreness. Many causes for chills with out a fever. Keep looking. NOrmal you others isn’t the same NOrmal for all folks. Make the Dr. listen or get another opinion if this keeps up with your husband.

  7. I had same thing happen last night – pronounced shivering at 1:30 am – lasted 30 mins or so. Now tonight, (Mar 20) at sleep onset, same thing – pronounced shivering – but I am not cold. I had the flu 3 weeks ago and still have cough. After about 30 mins of shivering, I feel warm and calm and can sleep. Could an infection cause this?

  8. I’ve had chills off and on since last night… no fever, don’t feel ill just cold… the house is hot. My skin appears cold, but even when it’s warmed up I still feel cold. I been having muscle pain in my legs the last few days. I also been working around the house a lot more since my surgery in Oct for my gallbladder removal. Let me know what you think.

    • Hello. I had my gallbladder removed 2 weeks ago.. but since the surgery.. I always feel cold on day time.. around 10:00am to 5pm. Then I found your comment. How are you now. Please shate

      • Have you felt anything else I had my baby back in July this year 2 weeks later had to get gall bladder removed and just this week I’ve had chills and feel cold when my house is warm also noticed a bit of hairloss and overheating sometimes.

  9. I was at work today and out of nowhere I had the chills. It was about once or twice within a minute. Not cold havent been sick. It was weird and has never happend to me before. Trying to look it up and see what it could be, but not trying to freak out by what I see.

  10. Russell . It seems I’m having your same exact symptoms . What did you find out?

  11. My 13 years old is having chills with muscle pain every one month pass,he had several test but e everything came good…Dont know what more is causing that symptoms.

  12. I have been having chills the last week. No fever. They just come amd go. Very tired.

  13. My brother 62, gets chills and intense fatigue for sometimes 2 days, no fever talks like he is delirious during this time,then symptoms just go away and they come on just as fast no warning. Has happened every 2 months for 2 years now, dr said liver tested fine, bloodwork fine has no clue gonna test for lyme disease any ideas?

  14. i woke up because my body was shivering but i dont have fever i was diagnosed with goiter

  15. i have had chills off and on for 6months.Had blood check cant find anything.I say cold all the time

  16. I was outside all day in the wind and cold, got to bed and started getting chill’s like I can’t get warm even with a heating pad!

  17. I have suffered from chills daily for 3 months. Do I have anything to worry about?

    • Mary Jo Hawkins July 6, 2020 at 8:18 pm · Reply

      Not a Dr. Marilym, but you need to see someone. It might be a little thing, or a bigger thing. Love yourself and get it checked out until you get some answers.

    • Yes iv been having chills for 6 weeks now nobody knows why bloods all good

  18. I have been having chills off and on for like 2 years now,it used to happen one in 2 or 3 months with dry and irritated skin,but now it happens everyday.what do i do.

  19. I have chills today but I didn’t have any fever, my hand middle was pale like there wasn’t any blood flow in it, I threw up. I drink a lot of water and I was drinking coke and sweat tea mix because I was at work when it happened, I had to leave work because it got worse I was shivering like crazy and it’s not the first time it happened to me they say my iron might be low but I can’t tell what’s wrong with me. I get really cold at first to the point where I can’t walk and I shiver and then my body get really hot and my temperature go back to normal then I get a migraine and aches and pain all over my body

    • Mary Jo Hawkins July 6, 2020 at 8:00 pm · Reply

      I am not a Dr. but I would think about getting some labs; anemia, low potassium, diabetes type II, malaria ( remote but possible) and thyroid issues as well as reaction to some medications, and exhaustion or shock, can cause chills like this. Infection and other diseases, can also not always present with a fever first. Just consider a trip to the Dr. as being good to yourself. Always better safe than sorry. Never from malaria, but I have experienced chills from all the above reasons in my life time. Even sunburn is sometimes enough to cause chills too. Check it out OK?

  20. Virg,

    Im not sure if you will ever check these comments again but in the hopes you do plz have then text his ferritin (serum?) Level. If it’s super high then that would explain it. As far as I know only two conditions cause that. Docs carb Google if needed. One im thinking is fairly rare 5-10 cases per million ppl. Gore this helps someone. 🙂

  21. I get cold chills randomly all the time. No idea what causes it. Right now I’m on an antibiotic and the chills are much worse. I also have Raynaud’s so could be related?

  22. I have gotten painful cold chills for years now..as soon as I get a chill in my body it runs through my whole body and shoots pain along with the chills. I have to immediately get under covers and am shaking uncontrollably for about 20-30 mins. In that time my fingers also really hurt and go numb and turn white. Can anyone please help me explain this? The doctor did not think much of it but they are getting more frequent and worse!

  23. I have had a problems with chills my blood test were all fine! Could it be anxiety!

  24. Been having chills everyday all day long for the past month can’t figure out what is going on.

  25. I get chills when I nap. Often I can’t sleep because I’m so cold. This never happens at night. I can’t get warm even with 3 blankets. I shiver and my hands and feet are very cold.

    • I am having chills and shivering a lot also, it effect my whole body . I have this area that appeared on my side I thought it was a bruise, it has been there for several months. When the chills come on I think I might have a fever. I wonder if this could be septic, there is pain in lower stomach constantly.( Syptems are like what I am experiencing)

  26. I’ve been having this freezing cold feeling for over a year. I’ve seen lots of drs, nobody knows how to help me.
    I cant handle the suffering its causing. Im 68 and thinking my life is coming close to an end. And it’s all because I’m THAT cold. I’m even taking liothyronine and it’s not helping one bit.
    Someone please give me a hint on what to do.

  27. Just a thought for others I’m seeing struggling with the same things I’ve asked for years: I would have extreme chills and feel like I had a debilitating fever and then it would develop some from having layers and blankets in me. But I was PAINFULLY cold all the time and then the tired spells started and I don’t mean I wanted to rest I mean sleep 24 hours and still feel EXHAUSTED I found out regular blood work won’t show enough detail. Make sure you express to your doctor that it’s not NORMAL and insist they look into it
    If you on the internet trying g to find out what relates to your symptoms you are experiencing something less than “normal” I found out after 19 years insisting with multiple doctors that I have Addison’s disease and it’s actually really serious then led to beginning stages of cancer and I almost died this fall. I get severe drops in my vitamin d and potassium. Take a good multivitamin, but also take individual supplements I take potassium magnesium zinc vit d and the b vitamins with my multi and I drink carnation instant breakfast shakes for snack every day and I feel like a new human after a few weeks of that I never felt this good as a kid even
    Hope this is helpful!!

  28. got the dang same thing in my belly from above hip to bellow breast blood culture cbc plaquette liver lipides all came back clean as a whistles !!!

    No fever at all 36.1 to 37.1 always cold inside and out in my belly since feb 8 2023 its winter here and i ma feeling it let me tell ya going to test for thyroid and low iron and vitamins being low i am pushing my doc i will not stop until i figure it out i am also tire seem i am not alone any one got any ideas ? I hatttte it !!

    I did warm up some last night on my belly with a warm compresses and felt hot and cozzy all night this morning back to the north pole temps gosh darn …


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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.