Why are we cold when we have a fever?

SAFAKNA TURKEY – The heat center in the hypothalamus tries to maintain a constant body temperature at 37.1 degrees. In infections, certain substances that are produced when the body fights microbes increase the constant value of 37.1 in the hypothalamus, and the heat center tries to bring the body temperature up to this new value. To achieve this increase, the body begins to give off heat, trembling, and the fever rises. With trembling muscle movements, heat production can increase by 4-5 times. The patient feels cold because the hypothalamus is tuned to a higher value. In other words, the appearance of a fever is a kind of defense mechanism. It aims to bring the body to a temperature where microbes cannot live. However, at very high temperatures, many other cells in the body, especially brain cells, begin to die. Therefore, fever should not be allowed to reach very high values, especially in children.

When we give an antipyretic, we reduce this constant temperature value in the heat center. This time the hypothalamus is trying to lower the body temperature. For this, sweat glands are activated and heat is lost due to evaporation from the body, blood vessels expand, and body temperature decreases. When our temperature rises above 42°, loss of consciousness sets in, and the mechanisms of thermoregulation of the hypothalamus begin to break down. In this case, it is necessary to provide heat transfer by wiping the entire body with a sponge or cloth moistened with cold water before reaching the medical facility. An excessive drop in body temperature, which we call hypothermia, is a condition that can lead to death. When body temperature begins to drop below 29 degrees, the hypothalamus loses control and the cells stop producing heat. In very cold conditions, ice crystals form in the cells of the ears, fingers, and toes, and tissue damage can cause gangrene. Exposure to ice water for 20-30 minutes will lower the body temperature to 24 degrees, so an arrhythmia begins in the heart and this process can be fatal.

Body temperature regulation mechanisms in the elderly, children, people with mental illness, people who abuse alcohol and psychoactive substances, use tranquilizers or psychotropic drugs, and those suffering from diseases such as thyroid gland, diabetes, paralysis and malnutrition, may not work properly. Therefore, these people should pay more attention to the ambient temperature and their clothing.

So why do some people get colder than others? Muscle mass plays an important role in heat production. Because men have more muscles than women, they can generate more heat and feel less cold. When we are inactive or sleeping, we feel colder more because muscle activity is reduced. Increasing muscle mass is a good solution to reduce chills. This requires regular exercise. Another reason women get colder than men is because of female hormones. Due to fluctuations in hormones during the menstrual cycle, they either get colder, or less.

Many diseases can cause a feeling of cold. The main ones are thyroid diseases. With hypothyroidism, when less thyroid hormone is secreted, the metabolism slows down, and, accordingly, heat production decreases and the person feels cold. In addition, chills are aggravated by many infections, especially urinary tract infections, rheumatic diseases, chronic lung diseases, circulatory disorders, and certain nerve or muscle diseases. People who are malnourished or on a low-calorie diet tend to feel colder because their metabolic rate slows down. Hypoglycemia is another cause of chills. Especially in diabetics, a cold can be one of the first symptoms of low blood sugar. Vitamin deficiency can also be cited as a cause. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to a complete and balanced diet. In stressful situations, it can be seen that the surface temperature decreases, mainly at the extreme points, such as the hands and feet.

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