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Causes, symptoms and treatments

Chills(發冷) or shivering are your body's way of raising your core body temperature through muscular contraction that is under hypothalamic regulation.  It can be caused by conditions such as low environmental temperatures, infections, toxins or hormonal imbalance. When the core body temperature drops below 35 degrees, life-threatening hypothermia may ensue. You must seek medical advice as soon as possible to find out the cause of the chills and treat them.

Chills causes  

  • Bacterial infections such as listeria, pneumonia, and urinary tract infections 
  • Cancer such as leukemia 
  • Hypothyroidism 
  • Gastroenteritis 
  • Anemia 
  • Detoxification 
  • Hangover 
  • Low blood sugar 
  • Menopause 
  • Panic attack 
  • Parasitic infections such as giardiasis 
  • Septicemia 
  • Influenza 
  • Vaccination 
  • Receive general anesthesia 
  • Have an accident or experience a traumatic event 

Characteristics of chills 

  • Body trembling or shaking 
  • Teeth chattering, jaw rattling, teeth sometimes knocking together 
  • Chicken skin 
  • Body pain 


Investigational modalities for chills 

To know the root cause of chills, your doctor will generally ask about the medical history of the present condition and perform a physical examination, adjuncts to investigation would include: 

  • Blood collection and culture tests 

Analyse for the presence of bacteria and other microorganisms that cause infectious diseases 

  • Blood tests for complete blood picture and hormone levels 

Look for elevations/abnormalities in white blood cell count, thyroid hormone levels 

  • Collect and examine sputum 

Testing for microorganisms that cause inflammation and infection 

  • Urine chemistry and bacteriology tests 

Test for bacterial infection 

  • Antigen and PCR testing panels 

Usually for rapid screening of possible presence of pathologic organism 

  • Chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia 

Tuberculosis and other infectious pulmonary diseases 

  • CT scan, MRI  

To investigate bone, soft tissue, brain and spinal cord inflammatory and/or infectious conditions 


Home care and treatment for chills 

  • Move to a warm place 
  • Wear warm clothes and use blankets to keep warm 
  • Drink hot drinks such as hot soup, hot tea, etc. to increase body temperature 
  • Keep enough water 
  • Adequate rest can help your body recover 
  • Using antibiotics to treat bacterial and parasitic infections and antivirals to treat viral infections, as directed by a physician 
  • Over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen (Paracetamol) or ibuprofen (Ibuprofen) to treat fever 

How to prevent chills 

  • Practice good hygiene: Frequent hand washing, especially after contact with other people in public places, can reduce the risk of infection and avoid contact with people with colds and flu. 
  • Wear a mask: To prevent the spread of respiratory infections through aerosolized droplets via coughing or sneezing. 
  • Strengthen the immune system: Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and avoiding stress can all help strengthen the immune system, making the body better able to fight off infections. 
  • Get Vaccinated: A flu vaccine, for example, can provide additional protection. 
  • Keep warm: In cold weather, ensuring your body is warm can prevent hypothermia and avoid chills. 
  • Stay in good physical condition: Manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, hyper- or hypothyroidism, renal failure and heart disease. These diseases may weaken the immune system and increase the risk of infection. 
  • Get enough fluids: Maintaining a fluid balance helps your body function properly, including your immune response. 


OT&P Medical Advice 

Chills are part of the body’s thermoregulatory system to raise core temperature in response to such conditions as low environmental temperatures, infections, toxins or endocrine dysfunction. It can be self-limiting, however, life-threatening hypothermia (core body temperature below 35 degrees Celsius) can occur. Chills often also are a symptom of an ongoing infectious process, and you are advised to seek medical advice to address the cause as soon as possible. You are welcome to make an appointment with our doctors for consultation. 

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  1. Cleveland Clinic. Chills. 6 Dec 2023 Retrieved from  
  2. MedlinePlus. Chills. 6 Dec 2023 Retrieved from  
  3. WebMD. Why Do I Have Chills? 6 Dec 2023 Retrieved from  

Please note that all medical articles featured on our website have been reviewed by qualified healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for a personal consultation with a qualified medical professional on the reader's medical condition.

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