This week’s COVID Catch-up: Chilling out – but not in a good way


COVID can bring chills, sweats, and a change in sensitivity to temperature

Carrie Steinweg (photo provided)

COVID Catch-up is a weekly column featuring Lansing Journal journalist Carrie Steinweg’s personal experience with COVID-19 and things she learned from others who shared their experiences. Subscribe today to make sure you don’t miss any COVID Catch-ups. Last week’s column is available here.

By Carrie Steinweg

LANSING, Ill. (May 19, 2021) – I was one of many who spent the early days of my COVID experience alternating back and forth between having chills and feeling sweaty. I’ve experienced cold sweats in the past when I was sick — where I would be almost freezing and sweating at the same time. Feeling chilly, I’d cover up, and then in seconds I’d feel sweaty — but yet still cold. It’s a weird sensation. It seemed to happen when accompanied by fever.

With COVID it was a little different. Sometimes it was that instantaneous change from chilly to sweaty, but sometimes the chilliness would linger for a while. After being bundled up for a bit, I’d start to warm up and sometimes get to a point when I’d get sweaty. I’d remove a layer or a blanket and eventually get a little more comfortable. I never had a high fever, just a low-grade fever.

It lingered for a little bit and happened throughout the day, but subsided after a few weeks. When I got vaccinated and most of my symptoms re-appeared, the chills and sweats were among them. It was intense for over a week after the vaccine. Eventually the sweaty episodes were fewer, but the chills kept happening.

The cold lingers

It’s another thing I am learning is persistent in some COVID patients. Besides the initial symptom of having chills, a feeling of being cold all the time is being reported among some who have had COVID for a length of time afterwards.

When I was a child and teen, I was always cold. I remember working in an air conditioned office in the summers where I always had a sweater on. After I started having kids (and added a little more fat to my frame) I warmed up and didn’t have to have a supply of cardigans in my closet anymore.

Now, throughout the day I get random chills and often put on a jacket or sweater, even when already wearing long sleeves. At night is when it’s really noticeable. As it gets close to bed time I find myself getting chillier. I lay down in bed most nights and I’m not just cold, but my feet, fingers and nose feel icy — like I just rolled them around in a bowl of ice or came in from a snowstorm without wearing gloves. Sometimes I throw on an extra blanket and sometimes even that isn’t enough. Typically, our heat is set at 70 degrees at night, but some nights I’ve come downstairs to bump it up to 72 or 73. On the milder nights we’ve had, when my husband likes to sleep with the windows open and get some fresh air, I’ve been closing them. The breeze makes me shiver.

A couple of nights the chills have been so extreme that even after a second blanket and turning up the heat, I’ve ended up putting on slippers, a winter hat and gloves and slept that way throughout the night. Now that the weather is warming up, I’m hoping that my chills and sensitivity to cold will be a thing of the past.