Hot flashes and night sweats are familiar symptoms of menopause, but what about the opposite? Are chills another symptom you might be greeted with when going through perimenopause or menopause? Sometimes yes, but you can take steps to minimize the effects of chills associated with this time of hormonal fluctuations.
What are chills?
Chills or cold flashes are a tingling, cold feeling that can sweep through your body without warning. It may cause you to shiver, shake, become pale, or experience other similar uncomfortable feelings. Chills can last for just a few seconds or minutes but can be ongoing for hours. Although chills are often associated with having a cold or similar respiratory condition, they also appear during perimenopause and menopause, when having a panic or anxiety attack, or as a symptom of diabetes.
Why do chills occur during menopause?
The changing hormone levels associated with perimenopause and menopause can cause the hypothalamus (which lies deep in the brain) to dysfunction. Since this part of the brain is responsible for regulating body temperature, you may experience hot flashes, night sweats, and/or chills. Some women experience chills and shivering when a hot flash is fading away, but chills can occur all alone as well.
How can I treat chills naturally?
Once a chill has developed, you generally have to wait for your body temperature to readjust and the chill passes. If you want to reduce your chances of experiencing chills, here are a few tips:
- Keep a sweater or other additional layers of clothing readily available so you can be ready when a chill hits
- Physical activity can help boost your body temperature, so get into motion when the cold flash starts. This may help you feel less chilled.
- Practice stress reduction. Stress and anxiety can be contributing factors to the occurrence of chills. Try meditation, deep breathing, tai chi, dancing, yoga, or listening to soothing music. If it makes you feel mellow, do it!
- Avoid triggers such as spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and nicotine.
If you experience a hot flash or night sweat, change any wet clothing or bedding immediately. This may help prevent a cold flash. Moisture-wicking pajamas and linens can make this easier.
- Anecdotally, some women swear that taking magnesium glycinate before going to bed reduces chills at night. Since magnesium has been shown to help with sleep, taking this supplement may be helpful.
when to see a health provider
If you have recurrent chills and they are affecting your quality of life, contact your healthcare provider. Your doctor may conduct some tests to determine whether there is another cause for your chills, such as a thyroid problem, anemia, or diabetes. Try to remember what you were doing immediately before you experienced each event and if you also had other symptoms. This information can help your doctor better identify what may be causing your chills.
Chills may occur during perimenopause or menopause alone or following hot flashes. Be sure to check with your doctor if they become disruptive and lifestyle changes aren’t effective.