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Why Does My Body Ache? Treatment and Causes

written by Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse Written by Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse
Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa is a MSN prepared Registered Nurse with 10 years of critical care experience in healthcare. When not practicing clinical nursing, she enjoys academic writing and is passionate about helping those affected by medical aliments live healthy lives.

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July 8, 2022 Read Time - 5 minutes

What Are Body Aches?

Body aches are generalized symptoms from varying causes. If you feel body aches, most likely your body is trying to tell you something. Body aches indicate that you are sick, overstressed, or have an underlying medical condition. Body aches can sometimes appear due to immune responses triggered by a response to a cold, virus, or flu. Sometimes you may have body aches after a strenuous workout or a long day at work. Body aches can feel like sore muscles and joint pain.

What Can Cause Body Aches?

It is essential to narrow down the cause of body aches so treatment and healing can begin.

Any viral infection can cause body aches. Are body aches a symptom of COVID? Since COVID is a virus, it is possible to have body aches when infected. Body aches can be caused by many types of viruses, not only COVID. Other viruses like influenza (flu), Rhinovirus (common cold), rotavirus (stomach bug), and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can cause body aches. It is important to seek medical care if you have body aches with a fever.

Viruses are not the only cause of body aches. Other sources of body aches include:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Stress (physical or emotional)
  • Lack of sleep
  • Dehydration
  • Fluid retention
  • Low potassium levels
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Myositis
  • Arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis

If you are able to narrow down body ache causes, it will help you begin treatment and promote healing. Seek medical attention immediately if you suffer body aches:

  • After a tick bite
  • With accompanied redness or swelling 
  • That occurs with a rash

Body aches after a tick bite, accompanied by a rash, swelling, or redness indicates a serious allergic reaction or severe illness.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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What are the Symptoms of Body Aches?

Body aches usually come with similar symptoms despite different causes. Symptoms of body aches include:

  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Congestion 
  • Runny nose
  • Nose stuffiness
  • Cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Shivering
  • Feeling hot or cold

Why Does Your Body Ache When You Are Sick?

Body aches can occur when you are sick because of your body’s natural response. Viruses activate your immune system’s natural chemicals that are released to fight infections. Your body’s immune response activates an inflammatory response which attacks bacteria and viruses. This process can activate pain pathways.

The inflammatory response causes swelling inside of your muscles, joints, and irritates your tissues. Because of these chemicals, you will experience muscle and joint pain, which leads to body aches. The harder your body is fighting, the more painful the body aches may be.

How Long Do Body Aches Last?

The number of days that body aches last depends on the cause. Viruses that cause body aches will run their course in 3 to 7 days. Sometimes viruses like the flu or stomach bug will cause body aches to linger up to 13 days. Long haul COVID body aches can last anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months. Body aches due to a difficult workout should last 1 to 3 days. Body aches triggered by the common cold will last 3 to 5 days. If you have body aches for 7 or more days, seek medical care.

What is the Fastest Way to Relieve Body Aches?

The fastest way to relieve body aches is to rest as soon as you recognize symptoms. 

Natural methods can be used to ease discomfort such as drinking plenty of fluids, getting rest, and applying heat to achy parts of your body. However, if body aches are caused by a virus and you have a fever you should not use heat therapy. Instead, take fever reducing medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

How to Get Rid of Body Aches Naturally

Using home remedies can help get rid of body aches naturally. Following natural treatments are the fastest way to relieve body aches. Drinking fluids will help keep you hydrated. Staying hydrated keeps your cells healthy and allows your body to heal. Hydration helps with body aches related to over exercise or illness. Using heat can relax the muscles that are causing body aches. Heat naturally soothes the body for instant relief. Use caution with heat therapy. Never fall asleep with a heating pad and don’t use heat therapy if you have a fever.

Resting your body is the best way to heal. Even if you don’t feel tired, laying down and shutting your eyes allows your body to focus on healing. If you don’t allow yourself to rest, you can become more sick, or increase the amount of days you are sick which otherwise would have been less had you rested.

What Treatment is Available for Body Aches?

Sometimes medical treatment is needed for body aches. For example, if body aches are caused by the flu, your doctor can prescribe medications to help you feel better, faster. In rare cases, you may need intravenous hydration which requires medical supervision. Even if your body aches are not caused by a virus, your doctor can help you. Sometimes, over the counter medications can be taken to relieve symptoms.

Talk To a Doctor About Body Aches

Body aches are common in many different illnesses. To figure out the cause and get treatment, make an appointment to speak with one of our board-certified doctors online today. 

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

Read More About Body Aches:


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

WebMD (2021). Why does my body ache? Accessed on June 25, 2022 from Body Aches: 13 Possible Causes (webmd.com)

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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