General or Other | General Practice | Rigors (Symptom)


Chills or rigors are the feelings of cold. The word can also refer to an episode of shivering, accompanied by paleness and feeling cold which can occur with a high fever. It is an extreme reflex response which occurs for a variety of reasons. It should not be ignored, as it is often a marker for significant and sometimes serious infections (most often bacterial). It is important to recognise the patient's description of a rigor, as the episode is unlikely to be witnessed outside hospital, and to be aware of the possible significance of this important symptom.

Essentially, any condition that can cause fever can cause chills along the fever. Exposure to a cold environment can result in rigors. With prolonged exposure to cold, serious injury associated with hypothermia (low body temperature) can result.


Rigors are commonly caused by influenza, tonsillitis, infectious pneumonia, biliary sepsis, pyelonephritis, visceral abscess (including lung, liver and paracolic), malaria, a side effect of treatment with amphotericin B or general Illnesses.