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.”
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