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Chills with Fever

Chills with Fever

Chills and fever are the body's mechanisms to maintain its temperature at an optimum level. Both these signs indicate that the body is fighting against some kind of infection. This article gives you a brief understanding about your body's mechanism, and the conditions that cause chills with fever.
Debopriya Bose
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
Chills and fever, are both your body's natural way of maintaining the ideal temperature that it needs to function smoothly. When the body fights with an infection, it increases its temperature to kill the infection-causing pathogens. Chills are also involuntarily contractions and relaxation of the muscles inside the body to generate heat.

We humans are warm-blooded, and it is important for our body's temperature to be maintained at an optimum level. When measured with an oral thermometer, this optimum level is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius.
A slight variation within this range may also be considered normal. However, if the temperature rises by more than 1 or 2 degrees, then the person is said to have fever. Chills with fever usually indicate the onset of various health related problems.
Causes
Note that fever is not a sickness or a disease. In fact, it is a sign that the immune system is fighting some infection-causing pathogens that have entered the body. Chills refer to the feeling of coldness and shivering that an individual experiences when he/she is exposed to an extremely cold environment. Shivering during chills is caused due to involuntarily contractions and relaxation of the muscles inside the body to generate heat. This happens as a reaction of the body to maintain its temperature at the optimum level. Chills and fever together, may be associated with many conditions. Listed below are some common causes.
Influenza:
Commonly known as flu, the most prominent symptoms of this viral infection include chills and fever. Symptoms like body ache and lack of energy are also common in this condition.
Malaria:
High fever with chills in cycles of 48 to 72 hours is one of the main symptoms of malaria. The disease needs prompt and proper medical attention.
Pneumonia:
Shaking chills and mild or high fever are common symptoms of pneumonia. Breathing difficulty, chest pain, cough, and headache are some other symptoms.
Strep Throat:
This bacterial infection can cause sudden fever, and in some cases, chills may also be experienced. Proper treatment with the help of antibiotics is necessary as untreated infection may lead to complications such as rheumatic fever and inflammation in the kidneys.
Tuberculosis (TB):
It is an airborne bacterial infection that affects the lungs. Symptoms including fever, chills, cough that lasts up to 3 weeks or more, weight loss, etc., are associated with this infection. Immediate medical assistance is important or else the condition may prove to be fatal.
Meningitis:
Viral infections that lead to meningitis, usually get better without treatment. However, bacterial meningitis infections are very serious and life-threatening. Symptoms like chills, high fever, headache, neck stiffness, nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, and confusion indicate brain infection. The condition needs immediate medical attention.
Kidney Infection:
Kidney dysfunction can lead to high amount of toxins in the body. The body usually exhibits symptoms like increased body temperature and chills during urinary tract infections like pyelonephritis.
Cancer:
Many types of cancer cause fever and chills. However, these symptoms are most common in case of leukemia and metastatic cancers (those that have spread to other parts of the body).
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease:
Bacterial infection in the upper genital tract (uterus, ovaries, and the Fallopian tubes) is called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to such complications and can exhibit symptoms like fever and shaking chills. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of STD help prevent serious health complications. Other causes of PID include spread of infection through blood or lymphatic system, intrauterine device (IUD), infection after a miscarriage, abortion, delivery, and so on.
Appendicitis:
Pain in the abdomen that is accompanied with fever, chills, and other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, etc., may indicate a severe case of appendicitis. In this case, a surgery may be done to remove the appendix from the body.
Joint Problems:
Some joint problems like rheumatoid arthritis may cause fever along with the characteristic pain and swelling of the joints in some cases. Children may also experience chills along with fever.
AIDS:
People who have AIDS have weak immune system. They are likely to catch infections easily. They are more susceptible to chills and elevated body temperature than others.
Other Causes:
Various bacterial and viral infections like bacterial gastroenteritis, viral gastroenteritis, chickenpox, etc., can cause shivering and fever. Young children are more likely to suffer from high fever and shaking chills than adults. Similarly, patients who are weak, or are suffering from serious chronic diseases, are more susceptible to high fever and shivering.
If you have fever, chills may occur for almost an hour, or may last for just a few minutes occurring intermittently throughout fever. They may occur in the beginning of an infection and indicate an increase in the body's core temperature. Even goose bumps are associated with chills. However, goose bumps occur when body hair stand up to form a layer of insulation to conserve temperature of the body.
When to Seek Medical Help?
If fever and chills are accompanied with symptoms like problem in breathing, a stiff neck, confusion, irritability, and vomiting, it could be an indication of some serious disease. In case the fever does not subside after 3 days, and continues for more than 5 days, it is necessary to call a doctor and seek medical help. Temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit in children who are less than 3 months old, or fever that lasts for more than 24 hours in children aged between 3 months to 1 year, can be a reason of concern. Do not bundle up a person in blankets in case, he/she has high temperature. This may further raise the fever.
Chills and mild fever can be tackled at home. When one experiences chills, the most important thing to do is to try keep the body warm. Fever can be treated at home by giving medicines like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin. However, do not give aspirin to minors who have symptoms of a viral infection. When it comes to children, it is always wise to consult a physician before giving any medicine.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.