Chills are a common feeling that every human being has ever experienced. They may not have a meaning or herald a disease. In this article we tell you why they occur.
Chills are basically body shaking. They happen involuntarily, meaning that we don’t decide when to have chills and when not to. Sometimes they are accompanied by what we call ‘goose bumps‘.
These tremors are rapid muscle contractions and relaxations that the body performs from head to toe as a response mechanism. Now, the response is to different and very varied stimuli.
The most common is that the chills are present in situations of environmental cold or in the presence of fever in the body. In both cases, the function of the chill is to regulate the internal temperature.
We have to understand that the human being has systems and mechanisms to maintain its internal temperature, which must be constant. These systems are commanded by the hypothalamus, an organ found within the skull.
The hypothalamus gives orders to maintain temperature, such as:
- Increase lung ventilation to dissipate heat through the air and generate more oxygen movement.
- Sweat so that the excess heat goes to the outside in the liquid and then the external air cools the skin by evaporating the sweat.
- Have chills to generate heat.
Although sometimes the chill of goosebumps is accompanied, we must know that they are not the same or equivalent. Goose bumps are the standing of the hairs on the body. Its function is to manufacture an insulating layer on the skin so that we do not lose more heat than we are losing at that specific moment.
For this reason, goose bumps are linked to cold, but not always to chills. Let’s see then what are the six most common causes of chills.
1. Chills from fever.
Fever can come from a variety of sources, including infections, but all of them can lead to chills. Extreme ages like children and the elderly are more likely to make muscle movement evident.
Although some protocols propose treatments for fever chills, they are not commonly used. Only pharmacology is indicated for extreme cases. Calcium salts and morphine sulfate are the drugs of choice.
The chill from fever is one more symptom of a larger picture, so a health professional should be consulted to arrive at the diagnosis. Treatment will be directed at the underlying disease.
When the external environment is very cold, and the body perceives it as such, it produces shivers to generate internal heat . It is one more mechanism of the hypothalamus, as we explained previously.
There is a small difference between different people and their reaction to cold that depends on the amount of body fat. Those with less body fat tend to experience more chills than the rest.
3. Children and chills.
Pediatric age is characterized by more frequent chills than in adulthood. Not only due to fever, which is also usually more common in infants and children than among older people, but also spontaneous.
The spontaneous chill of childhood has been linked to episodes of anxiety, such as the moment of hunger or the urge to defecate. They are totally benign and do not need medical treatment.
Infections create chills when they produce a fever. By raising the body temperature to fight the microorganism that entered the body, the human body is urged to eliminate that heat so as not to damage the organs.
Fever from an infection is a necessary process that forces another necessary mechanism, in this case, chills. Although the chills do not require specific treatment, a visit to a doctor will be useful for treating the infection that is behind the fever.
Hypoglycemia is the presence in the blood of a sugar value lower than normal. When this happens, chills appear along with other pre-fainting symptoms, such as cold sweat and dizziness.
6. Alterations in the prostate and menopause.
As the age of life increases, symptoms that were not there before appear. Among them the chills. For men, the cause is the prostate. In men over sixty years of age, an enlarged prostate that makes urination difficult is common. You may feel chills every time you make an effort to urinate because of your enlarged prostate.
In women, the problem is menopause, which also causes the chills. In this case, they are associated with hot flashes , where a temporary increase in internal heat is perceived in the trunk of the body. The chills act as temperature regulators.
As you have seen, chills often do not need medical intervention, but if there is a fever it is necessary to consult. Sometimes infections make their first announcement with an episode of chills. The health professional will know how to distinguish between those situations that require treatment and those that are benign and will resolve themselves.