What are the causes of night chills?

Updated November 21, 2016

Night chills are a feeling of coldness with shivering, sometimes followed by paleness and fever. It is a result of a change in the body's core temperature. Chills can be caused by anaemia, exposure to cold temperatures, menses, menopause, malnutrition, infections, pneumonia and other more serious diseases such as diabetes and cancer. In order to determine the exact cause, you should consult your doctor. A doctor will do a complete evaluation consisting of questions about your lifestyle, diet and stress, as well as a blood test to determine if you have a viral or bacterial illness.

Cold Temperatures

Exposure to cold temperatures or inadequate protection against cold temperatures can cause night chills. The elderly and children are most susceptible. For sensitivity to the cold, it is important to dress warmly and limit exposure whenever possible. Drinking something warm like tea or warm milk can help the body's core temperature return to normal quicker.

Reproductive Issues

Anemia is common in women during menstruation. The loss of blood decreases the red blood cell count, which may cause night chills. Iron-rich foods such as spinach can help this condition. Hormonal imbalances during peri-menopause, a period of a few years during which the hormone oestrogen gradually decreases, can also cause night chills and sweating. Exercise and a well-balanced diet can help this condition.


A poor diet can lead to deficiencies and low immune function, which may make a person ultra-sensitive to cold. Supplements such as B-complex or vitamin C can help with deficiencies. Vitamin B deficiencies are common with malnutrition and can be verified by a blood test. It is important to have a well-balanced diet that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy foods, healthy fats and high-quality protein. Avoiding alcohol, caffeine and smoking, which increase sensitivity to cold, may help.

Other Conditions

Conditions such as the common cold, pneumonia, hypothyroidism, diabetes, infections, and cancer can cause night chills. See a doctor in order to get the correct diagnosis and treatment. At home treatments may include such things as acetaminophen, aspirin and ibuprofen. Antibiotics or other prescription medications may be prescribed for more serious conditions.

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