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What Can Cause Chills and Vomiting?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Chills and vomiting can be disturbing symptoms with a variety of potential causes. Some of the conditions that commonly involve these symptoms include food poisoning, gastroenteritis, or withdrawal from alcohol or drugs. Additional causes of these symptoms may include appendicitis, gallbladder disease, or sepsis. Any specific questions or concerns about potential causes of chills and vomiting in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Severe food poisoning can cause symptoms such as chills and vomiting. Abdominal pain and diarrhea often accompany these symptoms and can usually be treated at home with rest and added fluids. If symptoms become severe or if dehydration occurs, hospitalization may become necessary.

Gastroenteritis, commonly referred to as the stomach flu, can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection and can cause similar symptoms as those present in cases of food poisoning. Prescription medications may be given, depending on the underlying cause of the condition, although symptoms usually go away on their own within a few days of onset.

Withdrawal from drugs, alcohol, or certain prescription medications may cause chills and vomiting. These symptoms typically last for only a few days and are not associated with any other medical conditions. Some doctors may prescribe medications designed to help ease some of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with withdrawal.

Appendicitis is a medical term used to describe an inflammation of the appendix. Lower right abdominal pain and fever often accompany the chills and vomiting that frequently occur with this medical emergency. If the appendix ruptures, infectious materials can quickly spread throughout the body, creating a potentially fatal complication. Surgery to remove the appendix is the standard treatment for appendicitis.

Gallbladder disease or the presence of gallstones may cause chills and vomiting. Gallbladder pain is usually located in the middle portion of the abdomen, slightly to the right. This pain may radiate throughout the entire abdominal area and may even extend into the right shoulder. In mild cases of gallbladder disease, dietary changes may be recommended, although surgical removal of the gallbladder is a common practice.

Sepsis, also referred to as blood poisoning, occurs when an infection somewhere in the body spreads into the bloodstream and the infectious materials can then move into all of the vital organs of the body. If sepsis is detected early enough, intensive antibiotic therapy and other life-support measures may be able to save the life of the patient.

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Discussion Comments

By ddljohn — On Aug 12, 2014

I had these symptoms when I was withdrawing from an antidepressant. It was quite bad. I was sweating one minute, freezing the next. I had nausea and vomiting and a severe headache too. It kind of felt like I was withdrawing from illegal drugs. I had not expected withdrawal symptoms to be so severe. I think antidepressants are far more powerful than we realize, and they do cause addiction. Why else would the body react so severely to withdrawal?

By fify — On Aug 11, 2014

@literally45-- Have you seen a doctor? Please see one as soon as possible.

You can't know whether you have food poisoning or not without some diagnostic testing. They will take some blood and check for signs of bacteria. I'm not a doctor and although food intolerance can cause nausea and vomiting, I don't think it causes chills usually. To me, chills and vomiting together are signs of an infection. When the body is fighting bacteria or a virus, these types of symptoms usually occur. You might have caught a cold or some kind of virus. So please see a doctor for proper treatment.

By literally45 — On Aug 11, 2014

Can a food intolerance cause chills and vomiting? I don't think I have food poisoning, but since the past two days, I've had these symptoms. I don't know what the problem is.

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