When a person experiences chills or shivers they usually reach for the thermometer because chills are often accompanied by a fever. However, there are many medical and psychological reasons why you can have chills, but no fever. For example, chills without a fever can be caused by infections, an underactive thyroid, low blood sugar, and panic attacks. Even certain medications can cause your body to shiver without having a fever.
Chills are the body’s way of trying to raise its core temperature by rapidly contracting and relaxing the muscles. This can cause a person to start shivering, shake, or have rigors (sudden and intense chills). However, the chills don’t always increase your body’s temperature and they can be a result of an underlying condition. In this case they are not accompanied with a fever.
To treat chills that aren’t accompanied by fever, you usually need to address the underlying problem. However, sometimes just warming yourself up is enough to get rid of the shaking chills.
Causes and Treatments of Chills without a Fever
Cystitis or Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Cystitis (an infection of the bladder) or a urinary tract infection could be one of the reasons why you have chills, but no fever. Cystitis occurs when bacteria get into your urethra and cause an infection. This can result in a burning sensation when urinating, pelvic pain, and cloudy and bad-smelling urine. According to Dr. Jennifer Robinson on WebMD, if the bladder infection is more serious, it could result in chills with or without a fever.1
It’s important to treat any bladder infection or other UTIs as soon as possible to avoid any further complications. This is especially true if you experience chills with the bladder infection because it could be a sign that the infection has spread to your kidneys.1
If you have a bladder infection, you should drink plenty of water to flush out toxins from your body and this will help the infection to clear quicker.
You can also try drinking cranberry juice to prevent further occurrences of urinary tract infections. Cranberries are high in antioxidants and can help the bladder to function properly. A review into the effects of cranberries and UTIs found that there is some evidence that drinking cranberry juice can help to prevent UTIs and its associated symptoms.2
There are other natural ways to treat urinary tract infection, and you can use them to treat the UTI as soon as you notice the first signs of it.
Side Effects of Medications
If you read the small print on many medications, you will find that chills, but no fever are often a side effect of taking medications. For example, Ibuprofen, Effexor, Voltaren, and Ondansetron are just a few of the medications that list chills as a possible side effect.3
If you think that the medication you are taking is the cause of your chills and there is no other discernible cause, then you should speak to your medical practitioner. You may also want to try these 15 natural alternatives to Ibuprofen.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. Your thyroid is connected with your metabolism, and according to the American Thyroid Association, an underactive thyroid can cause you to feel greater sensitivity to the cold, which means that you shiver more.4 Other signs of an underactive thyroid are that you could feel more depressed, have dry skin, get constipated, and experience more fatigue.
In order for your thyroid to function properly and avoid the chills associated with it, you should enjoy a balanced diet incorporating healthy fats like nuts, seeds, coconut oil, legumes, and fish. Iodine is also important for proper thyroid function and some people have benefited from taking iodine supplements. However, you should consult with your doctor before taking iodine to boost your thyroid function.
If you want to find out more information on natural remedies to treat hypothyroidism, please read my article on this subject.
Anemia could be a reason that you have chills that aren’t accompanied by fever. Anemia occurs when the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells and this can cause shaking, fatigue, dizziness, and headaches. According to Dr. Melinda Ratni on WebMD, an iron deficiency or a vitamin B12 deficiency can cause you to become anemic.5
To avoid developing anemia caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency and the symptoms associated with it, you should eat foods that contain vitamin B12. The NHS in the United Kingdom says that a balanced diet containing sources of vitamin B12 like meat, dairy products, eggs, salmon, and cod should provide enough vitamin B12 for most people.6 Vegetarians and vegans have to make sure that they get enough of this vitamin. The non-animal options include consuming nutritional yeast, spirulina, and vitamin B12 fortified products, such as B12 fortified almond milk and cereals, and some breads.
To prevent anemia from a lack of iron in your diet, you should make sure and enjoy a balanced diet that contains green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, and almonds. Other good sources of iron are red meat, poultry, egg yolks and seafood. Please read my article on how to increase iron levels in your blood if you want to find out more information.
Anxiety or Panic Attacks
Experiencing chills without a fever could be a sign that you are having a panic attack or have a panic disorder. The shaking chills may be accompanied with a pounding heart, trembling, chest pain, nausea, and feeling dizzy. In fact, a report published in the Emergency Medicine Journal said that chills, lightheadedness, and a fear of dying were some of the most common symptoms associated with anxiety disorder.7
One way to alleviate anxiety and bring about a feeling of calm is to use essential oils to reduce stress and relax the body and mind. Some of the best essential oils for anxiety, stress, and depression are:
You can add a few drops to your diffuser and use this during the day or in your bedroom at nighttime to help relax and calm your nerves.
You can also put 1 – 2 drops of essential oil into the palm of your hand, cup your palms over your nose and inhale deeply 4 – 6 times to reduce your anxiety and help calm your central nervous system to reduce the chills.
For other ideas on how to reduce stress and anxiety in your day-to-day life, please read my article on natural remedies for stress and anxiety.
Hypoglycemia is the medical name for low blood sugar and is often associated with diabetes. One of the classic symptoms of hypoglycemia is shaking chills without having a fever. This happens because the glucose (sugar) level is so low that the body can’t function properly. Other symptoms of hypoglycemia are dizziness, hunger, pounding heart, sweating, and anxiety.8
To treat shaking chills that are due to having low blood sugar, doctors recommend drinking some fruit juice or another type of drink containing sugar. However, this is just a quick fix to get rid of the chills.
If you suffer from diabetes, there are many foods that you can eat to control your condition and regulate blood sugar levels. You can find more information about them in my articles about the 14 best foods to control type 2 diabetes, top 8 spices and herbs for type 2 diabetes, and in my article on how to use apple cider vinegar for diabetes.
Shaking chills are one of the first symptoms of hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature drops and your muscles contract and relax quickly to try and warm up your body. If hypothermia progresses, a person will stop shivering and become disorientated, confused, start slurring his or her speech, and not be aware of the severity of their condition.
Elderly people are most at risk of hypothermia. However, certain medications can also increase the risk of hypothermia in some people. The National Institute on Aging warns that even a room temperature between 60°F and 65°F can trigger hypothermia in older people.9
If you notice someone shaking, looks visibly cold and has other symptoms of hypothermia you should immediately take steps to provide some warmth. Putting a blanket around the person and making sure the room temperature is at least 68°F should help to stop the shaking chills associated with hypothermia. You should also seek professional medical advice in cases of extreme hypothermia.
Sepsis (blood poisoning)
Sepsis (septicemia) is a dangerous blood infection which can cause organ failure, blood clotting, and a drop in blood pressure which can be life-threatening. According to Dr. Melinda Ratni on WebMD, one of the common symptoms of sepsis is shaking chills that can be accompanied with a low body temperature or a fever.10
Sepsis is caused by bacteria getting into the blood system and can happen with something as simple as scraped elbow or a cut or it can be caused by a serious medical condition like appendicitis, meningitis, or pneumonia. You can read more about this subject in my article about blood poisoning – signs and symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.
If you suspect that yourself or another person show symptoms of sepsis, you should seek medical help immediately.
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