"New York Turns to Smart Thermometers for Disease Detection in Schools" - New York Times >>

Body Aches & Chills

There are many telltale symptoms of illness, but one we often forget about (until we’re the one experiencing it) is the chill that comes along with the cold or flu. That and the body aches. It’s hard to fully describe but you know what I’m talking about – your muscles and joints ache and your skin may even hurt to the touch. You can definitely get a fever with chills but don’t be fooled – you can even have chills without fever. And you want to keep it that way! So grab a light blanket and let’s talk about how to keep those body aches and chills under control.

What causes body aches?

I know you’re not in a particularly grateful mood, but first let’s thank your body for doing everything it can to protect you! That crummy feeling means our immune system is actually sending out white blood cells to fight an infection, and that is why we feel so stiff and achy. Our body has gone to war!

Along with a possible fever, you may also experience a sore throat and body aches, fatigue, headaches, nausea, stomach aches – these are all possible with a brewing virus and hopefully our body does its job and wins this battle.

What causes cold chills without fever?

Chills are your body’s way of warming you up, oftentimes (but not always) to a feverish level. During this process, as suggested by the word “chills,” we feel cold and want to crawl underneath a pile of blankets. Unfortunately, this will help that fever build! One blanket (or adding warm clothes) is fine to help find some comfort for you or your kiddo but don’t go overboard. (Once the shivering, or chills stops, remove the blanket or excess clothing.)

Chills are not concerning and are just our body’s way of fighting through a virus. We can let our temps creep up as high as 102 F before we treat with medication (tiny tots excluded) – it helps us get through the illness that much faster!

How to get rid of body aches and chills?

  • If you or your babe are really uncomfortable with the chills or achiness, you may take an over-the-counter medication to bring the fever down to a more comfortable range. (Reminders: No medications for our babes <3 months old, no ibuprofen <6 months old, no Aspirin <18 years old.)
  • Dehydration adds to the overall achiness, so amp up those fluids.
  • Rest! Let your body fight for you while you reap the benefits of extra sleep.
  • Take a warm bath to soothe your sore muscles. If you’re running a fever, make sure the water isn’t too hot – we don’t want to make the fever worse.

When to call your doctor if you have body aches and chills?

When we do need to be concerned here is more about the fever range and accompanying symptoms. Call your doctor if:

  • Temperature >100.4℉ rectally in our babes <3 months old
  • Temperature >102℉ in our kiddos >3 months old to 2 years old
  • Temperature >103℉ in ourselves or our kiddos >2 years old
  • Fever present >3 days
  • You or your kiddo are lethargic
  • You or your kiddo are dehydrated (dry mouth, no tears, no urinating >8 hours)
  • Shivering or shaking chills carry on past 30 minutes
  • Fever is accompanied by other symptoms that concern you

Head to the ER if your kiddo or loved one:

  • Has difficulty breathing
  • Is disoriented/confused
  • Has a seizure
  • Has a fever >104℉ (ER unless you can get ahold of the doctor right away)

Keep in mind that body aches and chills are side effects of a virus. The achiness will go away as the virus goes away, so hang in there. Avoid the urge to bundle up, drink plenty of fluids, and get some extra rest. Hopefully this remains at aches and chills and you’re able to move on! If you are ever concerned about other symptoms or worry they are carrying on too long, always call your doctor. Or check on those other symptoms through your Kinsa app and prepare to receive more advice from me, Nurse Blake!

Blake Wageman

Blake Wageman, RN, BSN has over 14 years of nursing under her belt, primarily focused on NICU babies and, just as importantly, their worried parents.