What Are Migraine Chills?

If you have ever experienced chills or felt very cold during a migraine, you are not alone. Migraine chills can be a symptom for some people in combination with other symptoms and changes to the body during the migraine.

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What is a migraine?

The term migraine is often used synonymously with headache; however, the characteristics of migraines are distinct and different from a typical, occasional headache. With more exposure to screens at home and at work, headaches are becoming a common complaint and occurrence for individuals of all ages. You may have recurring bouts of head pain and discomfort and wonder whether what you are experiencing is possibly a migraine.

While migraine is a condition marked by severe headaches, it also impacts the body in ways that can make you more sensitive to your environment and cause additional symptoms. Migraines can occur in phases that cause your condition to worsen over a period of time, lasting for hours or days in some cases.  

During a migraine, it is not uncommon for you to miss school or work or feel unable to take care of your daily responsibilities. It can be an overpowering pain that leaves you incapacitated as you try to cope with the discomfort and get relief in any way possible.

Common signs and symptoms

A migraine can have up to four stages, including the Prodrome, Aura, Headache, and Postdrome stage. Not everyone that suffers a migraine will experience all four stages. While some people can identify signs that a migraine is impending, others may not experience symptoms until the headache is underway.

Signs and symptoms of a migraine may include:

Headache, which could be predominantly on one side

  • Light and/or sound sensitivity

  • Finding certain odors bothersome

  • Experiencing chills

  • Feeling hot and experiencing sweats

  • Nausea

  • Vertigo or feeling dizzy

  • Gastrointestinal upset, including indigestion, vomiting, or diarrhea

  • Fatigue

  • Changes in speech or vision

What causes migraines?

There is no one predominant cause of migraines. However, those that experience migraines may suffer the condition following exposure to certain external triggers or internal fluctuations and changes within their bodies. 

Figuring out why your migraines are happening can be a difficult process, but trying to narrow down the triggers of these headaches can help you to best manage the condition in the future. Every migraine sufferer can experience a migraine for different reasons. It may be one particular instance or trigger that sets off the start of a migraine or a combination of circumstances leading to the onset of symptoms.

Migraines can occur because of the environment around you, substances that you breathe in or ingest, or they can be precipitated by your lifestyle. Anything that may cause a change to your body's functions or chemical balance can result in a migraine occurring.

Potential causes of migraines include:

Why do people with migraines experience chills?

A migraine that is happening or is about to occur can cause a number of interesting symptoms, some of which many people may not initially link to the migraine condition. Your body can react in different ways when facing the discomfort and pain of a migraine, including fluctuations in your body's temperature. Some people may experience sweating and feeling overly hot, while others report feeling cold and suffering from chills.

Migraine chills are thought to occur because certain areas of the brain that are in control of the body's temperature regulation can be affected during this condition. This can cause a person to feel drastic and sudden changes to how they feel. 

Chills are common when a person is feeling susceptible to cold, and their body temperature suddenly lowers during a migraine. Shivering is also possible.

While chills are a symptom often reported by migraine sufferers, it is also possible that the cause of your chills is another condition or illness. If you continue to experience chills after a migraine resolves, you should contact your doctor to rule out potential illness, infection, or other medical conditions that could cause this symptom.

Can you treat migraine chills?

While the pain is likely the most debilitating aspect of a migraine, migraine chills can also be uncomfortable and interfere with your ability to relax as you try to recover from the headache. 

When considering how to prevent migraine chills, often the best approach is to do what you can to prevent a migraine altogether. If you cannot prevent the migraine and subsequent chills, however, then there are some immediate treatments you can take to try to find some relief.

To treat your migraine chills, you can have a migraine treatment plan in place under the advice of your medical provider. They may combine acute medication in response to a migraine attack and prophylactic medication to try to prevent the recurrence or reduce the frequency of severe migraines in the future.

Acute medication

Prophylactic medication

Home remedies to deal with migraine chills

To reduce the chills you are experiencing during a migraine episode, you must address the cause of the chills, which in many cases is the migraine itself. In addition to any prescription or over-the-counter medications you take to try to reduce your pain and discomfort, there are also some common remedies and strategies you can find at home to get migraine relief.

Dietary changes

Migraines can cause many people to lose their appetite. Unfortunately, refraining from eating while you are experiencing migraine symptoms can exacerbate your discomfort rather than help it. There are some things you can incorporate into your diet during a migraine to reduce some pain, inflammation, and the effects of uncomfortable migraine symptoms such as chills.

Caffeine

Although caffeine consumption is often discouraged because it can be a trigger for a migraine, once you are experiencing one, a little caffeine may help with some of your symptoms. A serving of dark chocolate, a small cup of coffee, or another caffeine source can help your body combat the migraine's effects.

Magnesium

Foods and vitamins rich in magnesium have been shown to have a positive effect on people that suffer from frequent migraines. This mineral can help lessen migraine symptoms and even prevent migraines for some individuals. Magnesium is found in foods such as spinach, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, cashews, almonds, and peanuts.

Engage in relaxing activities

If you are experiencing a migraine, chances are you will have little motivation to be active. However, going for a short walk and engaging in other relaxing activities can help you promote blood flow and reduce some of the symptoms you are suffering. Yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, or listening to relaxing music can help you reduce stress on your body during a migraine.

Alternative medicine

If you are a chronic migraine sufferer, you may be looking for long-term solutions and strategies that you can incorporate into your routine to manage and prevent migraines when possible. Acupuncture, acupressure, aromatherapy, and other holistic options are credited by many migraine sufferers as helpful tools when dealing with the symptoms and effects of a migraine.

When to see a doctor

If you are experiencing migraine chills during a migraine attack, you may wonder whether a visit to the doctor's office is necessary. Chills during a migraine episode are not likely to prolong beyond the attack.

If you are having chills that do not resolve by the time your migraine is over or you have a fever that is accompanying the chills, you should seek assistance from your medical provider for an evaluation to identify any other potential causes or underlying disease.

The lowdown

Migraine chills are not a cause for concern when you are experiencing a migraine headache. Effects on the body's temperature caused by migraine are not uncommon and can leave you feeling cold or shivering while you are dealing with the additional discomfort of a painful headache. 

If you have any questions or concerns about the frequency of your migraines, your treatment plan, or any of your migraine symptoms, including chills, contact your doctor to discuss.

Have you considered clinical trials for Migraine?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Migraine, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64

Have you considered clinical trials for Migraine?

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Last updated: Sep 2022

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