What Are Cold Chills When Sick?


The feeling of chills and shivering that you get when you are first coming down with a cold or the flu is your body’s response to feeling cold.

women checking her temperature
women checking her temperature (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

What Causes Chills

Chills can indicate the beginning of an infection, and they usually occur with fever. One of the strategies the body uses in fighting a viral or bacterial infection is to raise body temperature at the site of the infection. The shivering sensation is caused by muscles rapidly contracting and relaxing as the body tries to produce heat. Chills are often a prelude to a fever or an increase in body temperature.

grandmother checking her grandson's temperature
grandmother checking her grandson's temperature (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Chills and Common Illnesses

Chills often accompany everyday types of infections such as the common cold, influenza, gastroenteritis and tonsillitis. Chills may also occur with pneumonia, strep throat, mononucleosis, cellulitis, gallstones, diverticulitis, tuberculosis, Lyme disease, or kidney or urinary tract infection.

child in doctor's office
child in doctor's office (Image: Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Other Causes

Chills can be an indicator of some serious diseases like malaria, and may also occur after the bite of the brown recluse spider. Chills may occur as a side effect of the drug prednisone.

woman on couch with blanket
woman on couch with blanket (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Chills in Children

Children commonly have chills when they are sick, since they develop high fevers more often than adults.

father checking son's temperature
father checking son's temperature (Image: Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images)


When you first notice chills, help your body fight infection by getting plenty of rest, staying warm and drinking lots of fluids.

woman on couch with blanket and warm tea
woman on couch with blanket and warm tea (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

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