Chills and shivers are common symptoms for individuals with HIV. In many cases, the body actually maintains a consistent temperature despite these sensations. This experience can make it difficult to gauge when your core temperature may drop—i.e., when you need to bundle up to protect yourself against infection. Yet individuals with HIV need to be diligent about staying warm to assist their immune function.
A Drop in Body Temperature
When temperatures drop outside, your body responds to maintain a consistent internal temperature by:
- Slowing circulation in vessels near the skin where body heat is more likely to be lost. (This explains why extremities—hands, feet, nose and ears—are the first parts of the body to feel cold.)
- Slowing central circulation (i.e. heart rate) to conserve energy.
The decrease in heart rate slows the rate at which vital organs receive oxygen-rich blood and slows down the movement of fluid by which the body rids itself of toxins. Overall, a drop in body temperature slows down the systems vital to immune function, and that makes you more susceptible to infection.
When the weather turns cooler, an individual with HIV must take extra precautions to stay warm. Layering clothing, even indoors, can help boost core body temperature. Avoid long exposures to cold outdoor conditions. If possible, seek the help of family, friends and/or delivery services to bring you items you need so that you can stay indoors.