Chills without Fever

Definition of Chills

Chills or rigor refers to the involuntary, continuous contractions of skeletal muscles with paroxysms of excessive shivering and teeth chattering.

When the body attempts to produce heat to increase its temperature from within, the muscles contract and relax rapidly. In this way, the body is able to compensate and maintain the homeostasis with regards to temperature.

Chills relates to a feeling of being cold without a supposed cause. It normally occurs as a response to exposure to cold. Goose bumps show on the skin when it is cold and during times of stress. However goose bumps are not the same with chills.

The mechanism of goose bumps is when the arrector pili muscle on the dermis contract, causing the hair to lie perpendicular to the skin [1, 2, 3].

What Causes Chills?

Being exposed to cold weather is a common and logical cause for chills without fever. Because of the low temperature, the body compensates by producing heat inside the body through continuous muscle contraction and relaxation [4].

Causes of Chills without Fever

Having chills without fever may coincide with certain medical conditions such as the following [5, 6, 7]:

Influenza (Flu)

This commonly happens among children whose immune system is not yet sufficiently exposed to microorganisms so their body is not yet immune to several types of influenza virus. At first, the person may have chills without the fever yet. 1-2 days later, the fever starts to occur, i.e. when the virus becomes active.

Acute Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis refers to inflammation of the bronchi most commonly due to bacterial or viral infection. The bronchi swell because of the infection, causing chest pain, breathing problems, cough, and chills with or without fever. Chills without fever can also be seen in other respiratory tract infections.


This happens when you are not getting enough nutrients that should be able to cater the needs of the body. There is a wide group of causes for malnutrition. Medical conditions, poor diet, and problems with absorption and digestion are the three main ones. Weight loss, dizziness, fatigue, and chills without fever are the main symptoms that seem to be present in the generality of the cases.

Having deficiencies in vitamin B, specifically vitamin B12, is bound to suffer from chills. The series of events that happens upon malnutrition depends entirely on the cause. Treatment includes stabilization of the underlying medical state which causes the malnutrition or replacing the missing nutrients.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

This is a condition characterized by low hemoglobin levels in the blood. The person feels cold even when if the weather is hot. Chills and fatigue also occur with the cold sensations. The hemoglobin in our red blood cells transports oxygen throughout our body.

The blood in itself provides warmth so with iron deficiency anemia, there is less transport of blood to the different parts of the body, especially on the distal parts like hands and feet, hence feeling cold especially on those areas.

Food Poisoning

Sudden chills without fever can occur due to food poisoning. Though some patients get fever and chills due to food illnesses, others do not experience an increase temperature of the body. They may also experience diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps aside from uncontrollable shivering or shaking.

Urinary Tract Infection

Persons suffering from urinary tract infection experience dysuria (painful urination) and a malodorous urine. Chills may occur periodically without fever in instances where the UTI is not that severe. If the infection ascends to the kidneys (pyelonephritis), a person may experience chills eventually with a fever.


Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar level can also cause infrequent chills with diaphoresis (excessive sweating), headache, dizziness, and tachycardia (increased heart rate). A person who is diabetic and having insulin administrations are more likely to have hypoglycemia.

A rapid drop in blood sugar is also caused by an accidental take of excessive dose of insulin. Carefully following the schedule of medications but not eating regularly develops higher chances of hypoglycemia in patients with diabetes. Being an alcoholic, low carbohydrate diet and extreme exercises are other causes of hypoglycemia.

Drugs or Medications

If the prescription is incorrect or an individual is using them in an abusive manner, chills may occur as a side effect of some prescribed drugs. When you are besieged with uncontrollable muscle spasms, there will be chills in periodical sessions. These chills will be accompanied by vomiting, nausea, allergic reaction, insomnia, heart problems, drowsiness, and drug dependence.


Thyroid is a small gland found in a person’s neck. It releases thyroid hormones to regulate your metabolism. When there is lacking production of the thyroid hormone, hypothyroidism occurs. One manifestation is chilling without fever.

It will result to chills because with this condition, you are more sensitive to cold. Some symptoms include depression, fatigue, constipation, joint pain, pale skin, heavy, weight gain, and brittle fingernails and hair. More symptoms may appear as the condition develops. Subsequent manifestations include decrease in sensation, slow speech, puffiness in the hands, feet and face, thickening of the skin, and thinning of the eyebrows.

Psychiatric Disorders

The sensation of coldness is not only experienced by a person with poor physical health. Panic disorders, anxiety problems, and other psychiatric diseases can have cold sensations regardless of the external environment. Chills without fever is a common response to anxiety.


Medical Treatment

Chills without fever is not a disease per se. It is a [9].

  • Antibiotics/antibacterial for bacterial infections: Intravenous administration is recommended in more serious cases.
  • Antiviral drugs for viral infections. However, antiviral drugs are not really necessary because influenza goes away on its own even without treatment. The patient is rather recommended to drink plenty of warm fluids and have a bed rest.
  • Improve your diet by carefully planning what and what not to eat. Take vitamin supplements as necessary.
  • Seeking emergency call is necessary in cases of food poisoning.
  • Intravenous administration of fluids prevents dehydration.
  • Levothyroxine is the treatment of choice for hypothyroidism.
  • Iron supplements can correct the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia.
  • Physiological counseling, relaxation, and breathing techniques are recommended for anxiety or stress-related disorders.

Home Remedies

If your chills is not that severe, it may be controlled by having these home remedies [10]

  • Getting enough rest can comfort the chills. 8-9 hours is recommended to sleep at night.
  • Do not skip your meal. Eat regularly and make sure not to go hours without getting any form of nutrition for the body. Keep some snacks with you in case of hunger.
  • Exercises like brisk walking and quick swimming help in controlling the chills.
  • Getting a vitamin B supplement can be a big help in the body. It can reduce your chills and boost your energy.
  • Drinking warm water every now and then can help in soothing your body and reducing chills. This helps is to keep the body hydrated very well, and maintaining also the heat in your body.
  • Relax through a soothing warm bath.


  1. Chills without Fever are Caused by Different Conditions. Available from:
  3. Rapid Assessment: A Flowchart Guide to Evaluating Signs and Symptoms by Lippincott Williams and Wilkins
  4. Chills. Available from:
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  12. Causes and Treatment for Uncontrollable Shivering. Available from:
  14. Healthtap available from:
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Chills without Fever
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Published on by under Diseases and Conditions.
Article was last reviewed on September 11th, 2016.

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