Updated at: 11-08-2023 - By: John Lau

Are you experiencing chills and shivers after a night of drinking alcohol?

This discomfort, often termed as “DTs” or delirium tremens, is a common symptom present in people struggling with alcohol withdrawal.

Our blog will unravel the mystery behind this phenomenon and provide valuable insights into alcohol’s effects on body temperature.

Dive in to grasp the concept fully and discover how to help your body recover safely after indulging in that extra glass of wine.

Understanding Alcohol-Induced Shivering

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Alcohol affects body temperature regulation, circulation, and the nervous system, leading to shivering cold after drinking.

How alcohol affects body temperature regulation

Alcohol has a distinctive impact on our body’s ability to regulate its temperature. Contrary to what your rosy cheeks might suggest, alcohol actually lowers your core body temperature.

It does this by expanding blood vessels and bringing a flush of warmth to the skin surface – an effect known as vasodilation.

Yet, while you feel warmer, it’s deceiving because heat is being pulled away from your vital organs.

This misperception can intensify if you are drinking in cold conditions like winter or ice-cool environments.

Your brain gets tricked into thinking it’s warm enough due to the initial tingly sensation caused by alcohol consumption which could lead towards risk of hypothermia or frostbite.

Alcohol also impairs the mechanisms that typically kick in when we’re cold – such as shivering which generates heat through increased metabolic activity, making us more susceptible to feeling shivery after binge drinking.

Impact on circulation and nervous system

Alcohol has a significant impact on both our circulation and nervous system. When we consume alcohol, it can cause our blood vessels to dilate, leading to increased blood flow near the surface of the skin.

This can give us a warm feeling initially but can also result in more rapid heat loss from our body. Additionally, alcohol affects our nervous system by interfering with its ability to regulate body temperature effectively.

As alcohol is metabolized in the liver, it produces a byproduct called acetaldehyde. This substance is toxic and can disrupt various bodily functions, including impairing the body’s ability to regulate temperature properly.

The combination of these effects on circulation and nervous system can lead to shivering cold sensations after drinking alcohol.

Role of acetaldehyde poisoning

Acetaldehyde poisoning plays a significant role in the shivering cold experienced after drinking alcohol. When we consume alcohol, it is metabolized in our bodies and broken down into acetaldehyde.

This toxic substance is responsible for many of the negative effects associated with drinking, including hangovers and shivering. Acetaldehyde causes blood vessels to dilate, leading to increased heat loss from the body and a drop in core temperature.

Additionally, acetaldehyde can interfere with the normal functioning of the nervous system, disrupting our body’s ability to regulate temperature effectively.

So when you experience that chilling sensation after a night of drinking, remember that acetaldehyde poisoning is likely playing a part.

Causes of Shivering Cold After Drinking Alcohol

Drinking alcohol can cause shivering cold due to factors such as hypoglycemia, hormonal imbalance, and quicker heat loss from the body.


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Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can be one of the causes of shivering cold after drinking alcohol. When we consume alcohol, our body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels becomes disrupted.

Alcohol interferes with liver function and impairs its ability to release glucose into the bloodstream. This drop in blood sugar can lead to symptoms like shivering, weakness, and feeling cold.

It’s important for individuals struggling with alcoholism to be aware of this potential effect and take steps to manage their blood sugar levels, such as eating properly before drinking and monitoring their intake of alcoholic beverages.

Hormonal imbalance

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Shivering cold after drinking alcohol can also be attributed to hormonal imbalances in the body. Alcohol consumption disrupts the normal functioning of hormones, leading to fluctuations that can affect body temperature regulation.

For example, alcohol can suppress the production of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which plays a key role in water reabsorption by the kidneys. This can result in increased urine output, dehydration, and ultimately contribute to feeling cold.

Additionally, alcohol can interfere with other hormones involved in regulating body temperature, such as cortisol and thyroid hormones.

Cortisol helps regulate metabolism and inflammation response while thyroid hormones control metabolism and heat production.

Imbalances in these hormones due to excessive drinking can further contribute to feelings of shivering coldness after consuming alcohol.

Quicker heat loss

When you consume alcohol, it can lead to quicker heat loss in your body. This is because alcohol dilates blood vessels near the skin’s surface, causing increased blood flow and resulting in heat being lost more rapidly.

Additionally, alcohol can impair your body’s natural ability to regulate temperature by affecting the hypothalamus, which is responsible for maintaining a stable internal temperature.

As a result, you may experience shivering cold after drinking alcohol as your body struggles to keep warm.

It’s important to stay hydrated and find ways to keep yourself warm when experiencing this symptom.

Coping with Shivering Cold After Drinking Alcohol

Rehydration and staying warm

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Staying hydrated and keeping warm are essential for managing shivering cold after drinking alcohol. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Drink plenty of water: Alcohol can cause dehydration, which can worsen symptoms of shivering and cold. Replenish your body by drinking water regularly.
  2. Consume electrolytes: In addition to water, consider drinking sports drinks or electrolyte-enhanced beverages to replenish lost nutrients and maintain proper hydration.
  3. Eat warm, nourishing foods: Opt for hot soups, stews, or warm beverages like herbal tea to help raise your body temperature and provide comfort.
  4. Bundle up in layers: Wear warm clothing and layer up to trap body heat effectively. Consider wearing thermal socks, gloves, hats, and scarves to keep extremities warm.
  5. Use blankets or heating pads: Wrap yourself in cozy blankets or use heating pads to help raise your body temperature and alleviate shivering.
  6. Stay indoors: Avoid going outside in extremely cold weather as it can further lower your body temperature and intensify the feeling of coldness.
  7. Take a warm bath or shower: A hot bath or shower can help relax muscles and increase blood circulation, providing temporary relief from shivering and cold sensations.
  8. Avoid caffeine and nicotine: Stimulants like caffeine and nicotine can constrict blood vessels, making it harder for your body to generate heat. Avoid these substances to prevent worsening the symptoms.
  9. Get enough rest: Adequate rest is crucial for allowing your body to recover from the effects of alcohol. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep or take short naps if needed.
  10. Consult a healthcare professional if symptoms worsen: If shivering cold persists or if you experience severe symptoms like confusion, rapid heartbeat, or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately as these could be signs of a more serious condition.

Medication options

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help alleviate headache, body aches, and fever associated with hangovers.
  • Anti – nausea medications like meclizine or dimenhydrinate can provide relief from stomach discomfort and vomiting caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Prescription medications like benzodiazepines may be prescribed for individuals experiencing severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, including tremors and shivering cold.
  • In some cases, doctors may recommend anti – anxiety medications to help manage the psychological effects of alcohol withdrawal and reduce symptoms like shaking and chills.

Proper rest and nutrition

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Proper rest and nutrition are crucial for recovering from the shivering cold after drinking alcohol. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Get enough sleep: Rest is essential for your body to recover. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep to help your body heal.
  2. Hydrate yourself: Drinking alcohol can cause dehydration, which can worsen the shivering cold symptoms. Drink plenty of water or electrolyte-rich fluids to replenish your body.
  3. Eat a balanced diet: Proper nutrition is vital in aiding recovery. Include foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in your diet. Fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can help restore your energy levels and support your immune system.
  4. Avoid caffeine and sugary drinks: While it may be tempting to reach for coffee or energy drinks, they can further dehydrate your body and worsen the symptoms. Opt for herbal teas or water instead.
  5. Consider supplements: Talk to a healthcare professional about whether taking certain supplements like vitamin B complex or magnesium could be beneficial in managing the shivering cold symptoms.
  6. Ease back into physical activity: Once you start feeling better, gradually reintroduce gentle exercise into your routine. It can help boost circulation and promote overall well-being.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you experience severe trembling, confusion, or difficulty breathing after drinking alcohol and shivering cold persists for an extended period, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention.

Signs that indicate a need for medical help

  • Severe tremors or shaking that cannot be controlled
  • Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Loss of consciousness or inability to wake up
  • Irregular heartbeat or chest pain
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Severe dehydration or inability to keep fluids down
  • Vomiting blood or black, tarry stools
  • Pale or bluish skin color
  • Extreme fatigue or weakness that is persistent


In conclusion, experiencing shivering cold after drinking alcohol can be a common occurrence for many individuals. It is often a result of the body’s complex reaction to alcohol and its impact on temperature regulation.

While there are various causes and potential remedies for this phenomenon, it is important to monitor your symptoms and seek medical attention if necessary.

Stay hydrated, keep warm, and listen to your body when it comes to managing the shivering cold after consuming alcohol.