Uncontrolled Shivering (Not Cold or Fever) – Causes & How to Stop It

Shivering, also referred to as chills occur when the body attempts to produce heat to increase its temperature from within, causing muscles to contract and relax rapidly. Uncontrolled shivering may occur at the beginning of an infection and are usually associated with fever but in some cases, it may happen without fever.

There are several conditions that may lead to shivering without fever which include; food poisoning, infections, malnutrition, anxiety among other causes. This condition is characterized by several signs including;

  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • constipation

Shivering without fever

Shivering could happen simply because of exposure to cold weather. It could also indicate a bacterial or viral infection in the body. If the shivering occurs without shivering, it may indicate any of the following conditions;

1. Food poisoning

Food poisoning can present symptoms of chills without fever. Some other symptoms that indicate food poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.

2. Medication

There are some certain medications that lead to side effects that lead to the appearance of chills. For you to avoid this, you need to adjust your dosage. Some of such medications include; ibuprofen, Effexor, and Voltaren.

3. Cystitis or urinary tract infection

Bladder infections affect women a lot more than men. Most of these infections are caused by bacteria and if not detected on time, they could spread to the kidneys. The probability of women getting these infections is 1 in every 5 women. On the other hand, men rarely get bladder infections but the risk of getting this will increase with age. Symptoms of this condition include;

  • Increased urinary frequency: those suffering from these infections normally feel the need to urinate more often than normal people. Research shows that individuals with these infections make up to 60 trips to the bathroom per day. These frequent bathroom visits are as a result of smaller amounts of urine than what healthy people make.
  • Chills: fever and shivering when you have urinary tract infection indicate that the infection has reached the kidneys. This is not common but if it happens, consult your doctor immediately
  • A sensation of full bladder even when you emptied it: cystitis will make you think you are carrying a full bladder even when you are done urinating. If you are unable to urinate immediately, you may experience abdominal pain in varying degrees.
  • A burning sensation during urination: because of the inflamed bladder and urethra, it is hard and sometimes painful for a person with cystitis to urinate.
  • Cramping in the abdomen- a bladder infection can be very painful, especially in the abdominal or urethral area. This happens when the bladder becomes inflamed, causing your abdomen to feel pulsing pain and cramps. You can also feel like there is pressure exerted in the lower abdomen.

4. Malnutrition

This occurs when your body is not getting sufficient nutrients. When your body does not get enough nutrients, it becomes vulnerable to viruses and bacteria and lacks the energy it requires to perform even the most basic tasks. There is a wide range of causes of this condition, ranging from poor diet, problems with absorption and digestion, and auxiliary medical conditions. Most common symptoms of these conditions include fatigue, dizziness, and weight loss among others. They depend on nutrient you lack. General signs of malnutrition include;

  • Depression: micronutrient deficiency causes behavioral changes, and the most common is depression. The individual may also feel bouts of uncontrollable irritation, anxiety, and lack of interest for social interactions.
  • Malnourished individuals lack proper body heat since they lack enough stored fat in their bodies. Less fat accounts for less heat, thus the malnourished person may feel cold even when he does not have a fever.
  • Exhaustion- lack of nutrients in your body leads to insufficient energy for the body to perform certain tasks. This causes a perpetual feeling of fatigue throughout the day.
  • Lightheadedness: malnutrition affects the brain functions, that way; an individual suffering from this condition will be unable to concentrate for long periods.
  • Weight loss: an individual suffering from malnutrition often has less appetite than the normal person, which means he is likely to end up getting fewer nutrients in his body.
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5. Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition where your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. According to research, your thyroid is connected with your metabolism; an underactive thyroid can make you feel greater sensitivity to the cold, leading to more shivering. Other signs of an underactive thyroid include; depression, dry skin, constipation, and fatigue.

In order to resolve this situation, you should enjoy a balanced diet incorporating healthy fats like nuts, seeds, coconut oil, legumes, and fish.

6. Anemia

Anemia occurs when the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells. This could be the reason you have chills that aren’t accompanied by fever. This condition causes shaking, fatigue, dizziness, and headaches. Iron deficiency or vitamin, B12 deficiency can cause you become anemic.

To prevent anemia from lack of iron in your diet, you should make sure and enjoy a balanced diet that contains green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, and almonds. Some other sources of iron are red meat, poultry, egg yolks and seafood.

7. Anxiety

Experiencing chills without a fever could be a sign of panic attack or a panic disorder. The shivering may be accompanied with a pounding heart, trembling, nausea, chest pain, and dizziness. Essential oils for anxiety, stress, and depression are; lemon, chamomile. Lavender and jasmine

You can also put 1-2 drops of essential oil on your palm, cup your palms over your nose and inhale deeply 4-6 times to reduce your anxiety.

8. Hypoglycemia

This condition is caused by extremely low sugar or glucose in your body and it is usually associated with diabetes. One of the symptoms of this condition is chills without a fever, this happens because sugar level is low, such that the body can’t function properly. The other symptoms of this condition include;

  • Dizziness
  • Hunger
  • Pounding heart
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety

To treat this condition, doctors recommend drinking some fruit juice or any other juice containing sugar.

9. Hypothermia

Shaking chills are one of the symptoms of this condition. Hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature drops and your muscles contract and relaxes quickly to try and warm up your body. If this condition persists, it will make you stop shivering and become disoriented, confused, and slurring speech.  Elderly people are most at risk of getting this condition.

If you notice symptoms of this condition, you should immediately take steps to provide some warmth, like covering with a blanket. You should also seek medical attention for extreme cases of this condition.

Causes of uncontrolled shivering

Uncontrollable Shivering is your body’s reaction to being exposed to cold temperatures for longer periods of time, a drop in sugar levels, fighting infections or extreme anxiety among others. Severe shivering is also called rigors and the body uses these tremors to increase its core temperature.

The following is an insight on these causes;

1. Panic attack

Panic attacks can come on suddenly, without any immediate identifiable trigger. Uncontrollable shivering and body tremors could be a sign of anxiety. This condition may be accompanied by symptoms such as;

  • chest pains
  • Shortness of breath
  • A fear of losing control
  • Trembling or uncontrollable shaking

Panic attacks are just one way that extreme emotional or physiological stress can affect the body. This situation can be handled through proper stress management.

2. Cold

If you have uncontrollable shivering, it is a sign that your body is fighting an infection like common cold or the flu virus. The chills that cause fever make your body feel colder while shivering increases the body’s core temperature.

The first symptoms are sweats and some periods of chills.

3. Anxiety

Anxiety and stress can cause a physical reaction in some people and the symptoms often include uncontrollable shivering.

4. Nausea

Nausea is a sensation of unease and discomfort in the upper stomach with an involuntary urge to vomit. It is a symptom of condition like dehydration or pregnancy. Extreme dehydration is a serious condition that can cause chills and uncontrollable shivering. Children are prone to this condition especially in hot weather and it is therefore important to recognize symptoms.

5. Anemia

Sometimes you may feel an unexplained cold sensation even in hot weather, causing uncontrolled shivering accompanied by weakness and fatigue. This may be due to iron-deficiency anemia, a medical condition characterized by low blood hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a substance in blood that binds iron and plays an important role in transporting oxygen to the different parts of your body. Symptoms of anemia deficiency include;

  • Pale skin– if you are anemic, you will have unusual light skin color. This is because low amount of red blood cells flow through the bloodstream.
  • Severe chest pain– low hemoglobin levels will force the heart do excess work to supply the required amount of oxygen and blood to the rest of the body. When your heart is overworked, you may suffer severe chest pains or chest diseases.
  • Dizziness– anemia may cause lightheadedness and vertigo because the heart struggles to deliver enough oxygen to the brain. Low levels of oxygen may lead to erratic and labored breathing.
  • Headaches– an iron deficiency in the brain causes the brain arteries to swell, which could lead to a headache.
  • A fast or irregular heartbeat– iron deficiency causes palpitations because the heart needs to work extra hard to circulate blood through the body. This condition requires immediate doctor’s attention.
  • Cold hands and feet– when small blood vessels in your extremities receive little iron, they become more susceptible to drops in temperature, this leads to freezing hands for anemic patients.
  • Weakness and fatigue– iron deficiency will make you feel tired, weak, and lethargic because the muscles don’t get the right amount of oxygen they need to function properly.
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6. Food poisoning

 When food becomes contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites, it can cause inflammation and infection in your digestive system, causing rigors as the body tries to fight the infection. This condition is characterized by stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea after eating as well as shivering. The signs of food poisoning can show up between a few hours and several weeks after eating contaminated food.

Although this condition could last a few days, there are many natural remedies that can help relieve the symptoms. You may also drink ginger tea, it has medical properties that can help you recover faster from food poisoning.

Ginger also contains some anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help reduce stomach spasms, kill off infections, and soothe an inflamed intestinal tract. Ginger can help bring down fever and uncontrollable shivering.

7. Drug allergy

Some prescription drugs, especially when taken in high doses, have some side effects which include uncontrollable shaking. You should, therefore, ask your doctor to adjust the dosage of your medications if they have side effects like shivering.

8. Mental disorder

You may shiver uncontrollably when overwhelmed with emotional problems such as anxiety disorders or panic attacks. This condition may be accompanied by dry mouth, nervousness, and lowering of body temperature.

To resolve this, you can opt for relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga, these help calm your mind and relieve anxiety.

9.  During pregnancy

During pregnancy, a woman has to undergo several hormonal changes during the stage and this suppresses this phase, making her weak. It is because of this reason that a pregnant woman may face several issues, including uncontrollable shivers and chills. Shivering during pregnancy is a common problem experienced by most women and it seldom has any medical consequences.

Shivering may also be as a result urinary tract infection and it is common during pregnancy. Some other causes include pneumonia, appendicitis, and preeclampsia. The symptoms of this condition include;

  • Dizziness and loss of energy
  • A headache
  • Nausea
  • vomiting

10. Low blood sugar levels

Having your blood sugar levels below normal can lead to uncontrollable shivering that is accompanied by dizziness, sweating, hunger, trembling, headache and rapid heartbeats. This condition is also known as hypoglycemia and is common among diabetics who take insulin. Wrong dosages (excess) of insulin can lead to a rapid decline in sugar levels.

Other possible causes include skipping meals, alcohol abuse, excessive exercise and low carbohydrate intake. Your doctor will recommend eating small meals to avoid drops in sugar levels; you can also eat more complex carbohydrates and avoid sugary foods.

11. Respiratory tract infection

Respiratory tract infection may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. This condition may be accompanied by bouts of uncontrollable shivering, coughing, chest pains, and other breathing problems.

You may treat this condition by loosening the mucus in the chest. This is done by drinking plenty of fluids, avoiding irritants, and taking medications to relieve the symptoms.

Accompanying symptoms

Symptoms of shivering will highly depend on what kind of nutrient is deficient. The most common symptoms include;

Shaking hands this is caused by the contractions of your muscles

Constipation this is one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, if you have low thyroid hormone levels, you will experience problems in bowel movement, this because of a slowdown in your digestive system.

Vision problems– low blood sugar may cause blurry vision because the central nervous system lacks enough sugar for it to work properly.

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Cold hands and feet– this happens when small blood vessels in your extremities receive insufficient iron, this makes them more susceptible to drops in temperature. It is the reason you will have freezing hands if you are anemic.

Pale skin this is a symptom of low red blood cells flowing through the bloodstream.

Heavy and painful menstrual periods– this is a symptom for those with a short supply of thyroid hormones

Dizziness or labored breathing– this is a symptom of anemia when the heart is having a hard time delivering enough oxygen to the brain. This makes a person to experience erratic and labored breathing.

A headache this is a common symptom, especially if you have iron deficiency. This could lead to a severe headache.

Weight loss– this is an obvious symptom for malnutrition. This is because if you have this condition, you will lose appetite and therefore it could lead to fewer nutrients. This way the body will burn the stored fat faster in order to survive.

Exhaustion low energy levels means that you generally feel fatigue and inability to remain energetic throughout the day.

Sweating- excessive sweating is one of the first symptoms of low blood sugar in your body. This is because when glucose levels drop, the nervous system prompts the skin to secrete excess moisture.

Fragile fingernails or thin hair– low levels of thyroid hormone cause hair loss; this is because too many follicles stop functioning properly. Fingernails and toenails become brittle, stiff, and prone to ridges.

Increased urinary frequency individuals with bladder infection feel the need to urinate more often than normal people.

Chills: fever and shivers mean that the infection has reached your kidneys.

Cramping in the abdomen this happens because of bladder infection, which can be very painful especially in the abdominal or urethral area. This is because the bladder becomes inflamed.

Weight gain a sudden weight gain is a common symptom of an underactive thyroid. This is because the body’s metabolism slows down and fails to burn excess stored fat.

How to stop shivering and shaking

Your body may be shivering as a result of being nervous, hungry, medical condition among other reasons. There are many ways to stop shivering, which include lifestyle changes, medical attention or even home remedies. The following are some of the home remedies you should consider;

1. Practice yoga or meditation

Anxiety and stress may be the cause of trembling of your body. You may try yoga or meditation to curb stress and anxiety. Exercises such as walking, jogging, swimming and deep breathing can also help your body relax.

yoga may help stop shivering
yoga may help stop shivering

2. Get a massage

Massage has been proven and is recommended for reducing shivering in people who have essential tremor. A condition that causes the arms, legs, and head to shiver at all times. Whether your condition is as a result of stress and anxiety, you may get some relief by having regular massages.

3. Get enough sleep

Sleeping peacefully improves your mental condition- this helps you bring down your stress levels considerably and stops hand tremors. Teenagers need 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep per night, while adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.

4. B vitamins

Including B vitamins in your diet help calm the nerves to a great extent. These foods include leafy vegetables, egg yolks, beans, and whole grains among other foods.

5. Consider how much you eat

Low blood sugar can cause shivering in your hands and legs. If you think the reason for your shivering is low blood sugar, you need to take something that increases sugar levels. These include;

  • Eat a piece of hard candy, drink some juice, or chew on a glucose tablet to raise blood sugar
  • You can also try a snack like a sandwich 30 minutes prior to a meal.

6. Take a deep breath

This is because excess adrenaline can cause your body to shake. This is noticeable on your hands and legs. Deep breath stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is associated with sleep and relaxation. Taking a few deep breaths relaxes your body.

7. Valerian

Valerian is a herb that can help calm your nerves, relax and sleep peacefully. The following is the procedure on how you can stop shivering using valerian:

  • Grind the root of valerian
  • Mix it with a few ounces of water
  • Keep it for 5 minutes before you consume- this will give positive results on your tremors

References

  1. Rigor, causes, diagnosis and treatment: https://patient.info/doctor/rigors
  2. Accompanying symptoms of uncontrolled shaking: http://symptomchecker.webmd.com/multiple-symptoms?symptoms=chills%7Cfever%7Cjoint-aches%7Cshaking-chills-(rigors)&symptomids=51%7C102%7C8%7C202&locations=66%7C66%7C66%7C66
  3. Body tremors, shaking, trembling, vibrating anxiety symptoms: http://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety-symptoms/body-tremors.shtml
  4. Treatment options available for shaking hands: http://www.healthline.com/health/treating-shaking-hands

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