Uncontrollable Shivering


Most people associate shivering with the feeling of being cold – the body’s natural way of trying to warm itself up. Did you know that shivering could be linked to a number of other medical conditions though?

There are a lot of reasons why you may be experience ‘the chills’ and if you are finding that these shaking episodes are becoming a regular occurrence, we would highly recommend that you seek medical advice. Unless you’re just plain cold, of course!

What is Uncontrollable Shivering? 

When you have episodes of shivering or shaking, it is called rigor. It can often happen with a high fever – when you get sick with tonsillitis or another infection, you often shake under the blankets, racing between hot and cold every five minutes.

It is a reflex that your body naturally takes in order to take care of itself but the reason behind it will change from case to case. When you are cold, your body will shiver to keep things moving and generate heat. Your body has an internal thermostat and when it gets too cold, it will shiver in a bid to heat itself back up again.

When you have an infection, particularly a bacterial infection, your internal thermostat doesn’t work quite right and your body will shiver in a bid to heat itself up even when it is not cold.

Shivering will normally come hand in hand with other symptoms, especially if you are cold. You will experience goosebumps, for example, if you are a bit on the chilly side.

There are a number of other reasons why you may be experience uncontrollable shivering however, and if you are not feeling cold or unwell (with an infection), it could be one of these:

Low Blood Sugar Levels 

This can often happen – when you haven’t eaten for a few hours or you haven’t had a dose of sugar, your body will shake because you are hungry and because your blood sugar levels have dipped. You will often experience other symptoms with this including heart palpitations, sweating, bouts of dizziness and even headaches.

You can have low blood sugar levels for other reasons than skipping a meal or sugar-fix too. The condition is known technically as hypoglycemia and often happens with those suffering with diabetes. If the diabetic accidentally takes in too much insulin, the body will experience a fast-paced and potentially dangerous decline in blood sugar levels.

Excessive exercise can also cause low blood sugar levels as well as low-carbohydrate or zero-carbohydrate diets, alcohol abuse and even drug abuse.


Another common reason why you might be shaking – you might be dehydrated.

When your body needs fluids, it will start to behave in rather odd ways and if you go for too long dehydrated, you may even experience hallucinations. To begin with, you will experience uncontrollable shivering and dry mouth as well as headaches and a general feeling of being rather unwell.

Your body will struggle to maintain the right temperature when it is dehydrated. Imagine what would happen if you were to turn a kettle on with no water. The element would become damaged. That’s essentially what you’re doing if you don’t drink enough fluids – you are making your body work without anything inside it. Your body is made up of 55% to 75% water so making sure you are rehydrated is wise.


If you feel dizzy, weak or fatigued with your uncontrollable shivering, there’s a chance you could be suffering with anemia. Take a look in the mirror – do you have dark circles around your eyes? If yes, you could have anemia.

You have low blood hemoglobin when you suffering with anemia, which means it has trouble binding to the iron in your body. An easy way to combat this it to take a daily supplement or multivitamin that contains iron but make sure you consult with your doctor first. Too much iron can be just as bad for you as not enough iron.


As well as bacterial infections, there are other conditions and sicknesses which could lead to bouts of uncontrollable shivering or rigor. Food poisoning or anything that makes you feel nauseous, vomit or have an upset stomach can make you shiver. So if you experience shivering with those symptoms, there’s a good chance you have an upset stomach.

A urinary tract infection is another example of an infection or sickness that can cause uncontrollable shivering although this is mostly associated with the condition spreading to the kidneys rather than a UTI by itself.

If you have a weakened immune system, you could be at risk of getting other kinds of infections such as parasitic infections. Toxoplasmosis is one condition which can be accompanied by uncontrollable shivering and will also come with symptoms such as headaches, muscle pains and aches, fatigue, swollen glands and fever or high temperatures.

Medication / Drugs

We’ve already discussed that alcohol and drug abuse can cause these bouts of uncontrollable shivering but there are some prescription medication which could have the same effect.

If you are taking any medication that causes you to shake, it could be a sign that the dose you are on is too high. A chat with your doctor will soon rectify the issue and with many medications, it is often a system of trial and error before you figure out the right dosage that works for you.

Stress & Anxiety 

There are a number of emotional and mental disorders which can cause shaking and shivering. This kind of body reaction is actually normal to certain situations and is normally caused by an onset of hormones. You are also likely to experience symptoms such as dry mouth, dizziness, light-headedness and even a reduced body temperature.

Preventing Uncontrollable Shivering

In cases where the cause is low blood sugar, a simple sugary snack can help with uncontrollable shivering but in other, more serious cases such as diabetes, medical intervention might be necessary.

Getting a good night’s sleep and keeping your stress levels down is another great way to reduce stress and anxiety hormones which can make any medical condition worse, and regularly exercising as well as a healthy balance diet can help to keep your body healthy and fit from the inside out.


  1. I am a 24 year old female and I was told I was as anemic​ from birth; not really sure how or why. When I was in my teens I Suffern from insomnia and a few times every year I would wake up violently shaking to the point where it physically hurt. This happened again last night I have also been having trouble sleeping since I gave birth to my son 10 months ago. I probably sleep for a maximum of 3 hours a night. By the time I’m ready to sleep no matter how tired I was I just can’t switch off my brain.

    • Have you tried talking to your doctor about this? There are a number of medical conditions that could cause these symptoms, but the only way to find out which one is to go to the doctor and get a professional diagnosis. Stay safe, Kerchell!

  2. I shiver in the slightest cold, anywhere. I shake to the point I have to get under the blankets or walk out the office immediately to thaw out. Once I do get warm my muscles feel drained…sun and heat feel great though.

    • There are a number of things such as your weight or low body fat that can make you more likely to get cold. Certain illnesses can also cause that to happen. As long as you don’t have any other symptoms though, I would just make sure to always pack a warm jacket.

  3. I woke up shaking and shivering uncontrollable I wasn’t cold lasted about 10 mins never did it before I don’t understand why

    • There are many reasons why this could have happened. If it does not happen again and you don’t have any other symptoms though, I would not worry too much about it. You can always go to the doctor just to be sure though.

    • If you were in the cold and wet, then the shivering may be due to that. If the shivering continues over the next few days, then you may want to speak with a medical professional at that time. Continue to monitor your symptoms and warm up your body. Best of luck, Joseph!

  4. I have been ill since yesterday. It started as a really bad sore throat and a headache. I went to take a nap this morning, climbed under the cover and felt like I was freezing. I hadn’t eaten all day as I was nauseous as well. The flu maybe. I am a preschool teacher and we’ve fifth’s disease going around, plus all the typical snotty nose cough stuff.

    • Continue to monitor your symptoms. It is likely that you caught something that is going around at the school. It would be best if you speak with a medical professional at this time. You may want to plan to make a follow up appointment. Drink plenty of fluids, take vitamin C, and zinc. This may help you. Best of luck, Kelli!

  5. I am a 69 year old male , Went to bed Thursday evening felt cold ,feet and hands felt freezing cold,
    Started shivering, My wife felt me and said I didn’t feel cold to her, She got me a hot water bottle and another quilt , The shivering got worse, I had a glass of water and a cup of sweet tea , Icould not hold the cup on my own, This lasted about two hours before it faded away.
    I then started to get very hot and sweating , I managed to sleep for a while, Felt ok in the morning.
    Went out to walk the dogs after breakfast, had a coat on . Only walked about 300 yard felt cold and started shivering slitley so went back home by this time I was shivering uncontrollably , I wrapped up , it lasted One hour it’s very scary, What could it be

    • It would be best for you to make an appointment with a medical professional. There are various potential reasons for the symptoms that you are experiencing. Continue to monitor your symptoms so you can better answer your doctor’s questions. Reduce stress in your life at this time and drink plenty of water. Best of luck, Phil!

  6. As a 55-yr-old man, on Maxzide and Provigil, I once spent about an hour in a 102F hot tub. Not my wisest decision ever … as I then experienced uncontrollable shaking, and chills, for about two hours. Very unpleasant. Question: Do you have any thoughts as to what happened? (No alcohol or other men’s/drugs). Thank you.

    • Thank you for sharing your experiences. It would be best for you to address these concerns to your medical professional. They will be able to let you know if your shivering is due to your drugs or to other medical concerns. Continue to monitor your experiences so you can better answer your doctor’s questions. Best of luck, Ray!

  7. It is really strange but I normally start shaking uncontrollably right before I have to have a bowel movement. About 10-15 minutes after it subsides. I told my doctor months ago but I don’t think he has a clue. Any Suggestions would be much appreciated?

    • I haven’t heard of this happening before. If your doctor is also uncertain about a cause, I would just continue to watch your symptoms and make sure that it doesn’t get any worse. If it does, go back to your doctor to get checked out again.

  8. For the last few weeks I’ve been feeling like I’m burning up but Ive also been uncontrollably shivering and my skin is really sore? Even sitting back on a chair/sofa hurts.

    • You may have caught some type of cold or infection. You should go to your doctor to be checked out and get treated.

  9. Tonight my boyfriend was fine all night he was outside smoking a cigarette when he came in he said he was shivering but not cold, he laid in bed and it shook the whole bed, he is not diabetic,I tried to get him something to eat and wrapped a blanket tightly around him. It took almost 20 min to stop when he finally fell asleep. I asked if anything else hurt he said his neck, could this be a flu symptom? Like maybe he is about to be sick? It was pretty scary I didn’t know if he was having a small seizure his whole body down to his legs was convulsing.

      • You should have your boyfriend go to the doctor and explain his symptoms. This would also be a good time for you to talk to him about what he wants you to do if he goes into diabetic shock or has other problems when he is around you.

    • Is he taking care of his diabetes and making sure to eat the right foods? You should encourage your boyfriend to go to the doctor. He could just have the flu, but it is extremely important that he goes to the doctor to make sure that this is not related to his diabetes. If he is not managing his condition properly, he needs to start doing that.

  10. I usually don’t go this online mess because jesus is a healer but I am still corcern about my health and I want to know. Now I’m 16 and I just started experiencing this haven’t experienced this in a while I don’t know of anxiety or stress but I can’t control it. Now I’ve been to the doctor before about asthama when I was little and I didn’t have bad asthama matter I was playing sports with no problem. All of sudden this year in this month I start experiencing shaking rapid heart beating light headed and just worrying and I don’t know how yto control none of it. Its really starting to scare me any clue what I have.

    • Even if Jesus is your healer, you may want to use a doctor at times. After all, many of the modern medicines we have are actually based on plants–such as foxglove for heart problems–that are made by God. You may want to go to the doctor to be checked out. It sounds like you could have high blood pressure, but the best way to find out for sure is to go to the doctor, explain your symptoms and be diagnosed. Good luck, Maine!

  11. Hi… I am Anshu I was feeling too weak since 3 days and next 4th day in the morning when I was sleeping I started shivering suddenly and it was uncontrollable my friend put 4 blankets but still I was shivering and then fevered after taking medicine shivering stopped but weakness is still there . tell me the reason of shivering suddenly .

    • Many people experience shivering when they have a fever or the flu. You most likely have a cold of some sort. If you continue to have symptoms, you should go to your doctor to make sure that you are not suffering from something more serious. As long as you are in good health and do not have any other medical problems, the cold and the flu can generally be treated through rest, drinking plenty of fluids and giving your body time to recover. If you experience any other symptoms or the symptoms worsen, you may need to make an appointment with your doctor to get professionally treated. Good luck and stay safe, Anshu Mehta!

  12. Last night after my workout I was drinking a protein shake and listening to a funny podcast. I should also mention that I’m still hacking up drainage from a sinus infection I had a week ago. Anyway during a large drink I started laughing at the podcast and some of the shake went down the wrong pipe. I violently coughed for several minutes to get it out, and for the rest of the night my chest still felt tight and i kept coughing. I woke up around midnight having to use the restroom, and as soon as I got out of bed I started shivering uncontrollably. It took about 30 minutes back under the covers and adding two blankets for me to stop. I posit that some liquid was still in the respiratory system and my body was treating it like an infection.

    • Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights. If you want to make an appointment with a medical professional, then you should do so. Monitor your experiences so you can better answer their questions. Reduce stress in your life at this time. Best of luck, Bryan!

  13. I had a traumatic head injury in 2001. I had been temporarily paralyzed at the time. Since the accident, I have frequent cold shivers where you can see my whole body shake. Most of the time it internally feels like the sensation of icy hot inside my body. What could be a cause of this? Could it be a mini seizure? I experience them rather frequently.

    • **I should have added that at the time of the accident I was legally dead for almost ten minutes until I had a seizure.

      • Thank you for sharing your experiences. Please feel free to share more of your insights in the future. Have a great day, Jessica!

    • Your doctor’s should have the information that you are seeking. If they have not given you a the reason for your experiences, then perhaps you should speak with a new doctor. Remain positive as you move forward. Best of luck, Jessica!

  14. I shiver uncontrollably and I’m only 12, this started about a mounts ago. My lungs also sometimes hurt and I sometimes get shortness of breath when I shiver. What do I do??

    • It could be a cold, the flu or a similar illness. You should go to your doctor to be checked out. If it is caused by bacteria, your doctor may be able to prescribe antibiotics that will help cure your symptoms.

    • You also need to eat on time and eat a filling meal, also need to stay hydrated and possibly increase blood sugar levels. Also can later have an infection if your throat hurts. Brush teeth don’t sleep with mouth open gargle and don’t drink burning hot drinks that can hurt throat. Don’t stress out too much which lowers immune system, And see doctor who will probably prescribe antibiotics.

      • Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences. Your comment will certainly help people. Feel free to share more of your thoughts in the future. Have a great day, Rene!

      • Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences. Your comment will certainly help people. Feel free to share more of your thoughts in the future. Have a great day, Rene!

  15. I am a type 2 diabetic and I am just getting over a cold. Two days ago when the cold was at its height I stood up and suffered a really bad bought of uncontrollable shaking. It was so bad my whole body shook shook. This lasted for about 15 minutes and I have never experienced anything like it before. It was all I could do to put a coat on. It stopped as quickly as it started and my memory is not clear during that period. It frightened me at the time.

    • Make an appointment with a medical professional. This shivering potentially is a sign of a more serious medical condition. Monitor your experiences until your appointment. This will help you answer your doctor’s questions in the future. Best of luck, Andrew!

    • Make an appointment with a medical professional. This shivering may be a sign of a medical concern. Continue to monitor the experience that you are having, so you can better answer your doctor’s questions. Best of luck, Anon!

  16. I have never experienced violent shaking & body ache before . I’m medically well no problem with the heart. This lasted 24 hours.
    I’m really concerned & confused at the same time. The symptoms have passed but I can still feel my head a little heavy & slight body pains – nothing as bad as last night. What should I do?

    • Continue to monitor the experiences that you are having. If the feelings and sensations intensify or become painful, then immediately seek a doctor. Otherwise, you may want to make an appointment with a doctor to better understand your condition. Best of luck, NikkI!

  17. Hello I tent to shiver a lot and it really hurts my back to the point I put my back out always happened so when I’m in a cold car or sitting around not doing much and I just shiver I have to lay down sometimes to stop the pain in my back is that normal or should I seek medical advise… my doctor takes months to see so I want to see if anyone else getshould this!

    • You may want to try to make an appointment with another doctor. If there are other doctors that you are able to speak with, then make an appointment with them. At this time, monitor the experiences that you are having. This will help you better answer any questions that you doctor may have. Try to keep as warm as possible in the meantime. Best of luck, Alexis!

  18. Hi..im a type1 diabetic and started on lantus pen insulin about 3 months ago. At first i was given 12 units then 16 up to 38 units for about 2~1/2 months now. My blood sugar was from 300+ and now down to 94~150 depending if I ate a lot the prev night. Anyway, I have observed that since I started with 38 units insulin, there are days that I feel so cold and starts shiverring even if all of my companions are feeling warm. I live in a warm country btw. So my question is..has this something to do with my insulin shots?

    • You will want to speak with your doctor immediately. Continue to monitor your experiences and write down your memories of your previous experiences. This will help you best answer your doctor’s questions. You never want to risk your health, especially when it comes to diabetes. Make an appointment at this time. Best of luck, Grace!


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