Chills are body tremors. They happen involuntarily, that is, we do not decide when to get chills and when not. Sometimes, they are accompanied by what we call ´ goosebumps ´.
These tremors are rapid muscle contractions and relaxations that the body performs from head to toe as a response mechanism. Now, the answer is to different and varied stimuli.
The most common is that chills are present in situations of environmental cold or the presence of fever in the body. In both cases, the chill function is to regulate the internal temperature.
We have to understand that the human being has systems and mechanisms for maintaining its internal temperature, which must be constant. These systems are commanded by the hypothalamus, an organ that is inside the skull.
The hypothalamus gives orders to maintain the temperature, such as:
- Increase pulmonary ventilation to dissipate heat through the air and generate greater oxygen movement
- Sweat so that the excess heat goes outside in the liquid and then the external air refreshes the skin evaporating sweat
- Having chills to generate heat
While sometimes goosebumps, we should know that they are not the same or equivalent. Goosebumps are the bristling of body hairs. 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 particular moment.
Therefore, goosebumps are linked to cold, but not always to chills. Let’s see then what are the six most frequent causes of chills.
1. Chills from fever
Fever can come from different sources, including infections, but all of them can cause chills. Extreme ages as children and the elderly are more likely to make muscle movement evident.
While some protocols pose 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.
Chills due to fever is a symptom of a larger picture, so you should consult a health professional to arrive at the diagnosis. The treatment will be directed to the underlying disease.
When the external environment is very cold, and the body perceives it as such, it produces chills to generate internal heat. It is another mechanism of the hypothalamus, as 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 a lower volume of fat in the body 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 because of fever, which is also usually more common among babies and children than among older people but also spontaneously.
Spontaneous chills of childhood have been linked to episodes of anxiety, such as the moment of hunger or the desire to defecate. They are totally benign and do not need medical treatment.
Infections cause chills when they produce a fever. By raising the body temperature to combat 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 chills do not require timely treatment, a doctor’s visit will be useful for the treatment of the infection behind the fever.
Hypoglycemia is the presence in the blood of a lower sugar value than normal. When this happens, chills appear along with other symptoms before faintings, such as cold sweat and dizziness.
6. Alterations in the prostate and menopause
As the age of life increases, symptoms that were not present before appear. Among them the chills. For men, the cause is the prostate. In men older than sixty years, an increase in prostate size that makes urination difficult is common. The person may feel chills every time he makes an effort to urinate because of his enlarged prostate.
In women, the problem is menopause, which also causes chills. In this case, they are associated with hot flashes, where there is a temporary increase in internal heat in the trunk of the body. 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 give their first announcement with an episode of chills. The health professional will be able to distinguish between those situations that require treatment and those that are benign and will resolve themselves.