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What Causes Body Aches When Sick- Causes and Tips to Reduce

What Causes Body Aches When Sick

It was discovered in a survey that an average American gets sick three times a year. The sickness could be flu, common cold etc. Along with these sicknesses come plethora of symptoms like runny nose, cough, chills and so on. One of such symptoms is body ache.

We have all been there, whenever we get sick it feels like we are more sensitive to pain. Some muscles and limbs start to ache, and the pain does not go away until we are well again. If you have noticed the same situation and want to know What Causes Body Aches When Sick and why it happens, this blog is made just for you!

Why We Get Sick?

In day-to-day life, if a person gets sick, it is most likely a case of infectious or non-infectious disease. Here, we will briefly take a look at both of the following.

Infectious Disease:

Infectious diseases are caused by to infiltration of pathogens into our body. A pathogen is an organism that can cause a disease. Viruses, bacteria, fungi and certain parasites are all examples of pathogens.

A person can get in contact with a pathogen in various ways. In some cases, the interaction is by caused touching a contaminated surface with the hand and then touching the face, without washing hands. This way, pathogens can enter inside the body, through the openings of nose, mouth or eyes.

In other cases, a person who is suffering from an infection spreads bacteria and viruses in the air through coughs and sneezes. A healthy person, present in the same space, will inhale the same air. As this air is contaminated with pathogens, chances are that the healthy person will also get infected.

The pathogen, after entering the body, multiplies and damages our cells. Our immune system tries to fight off the infection, which causes body pain as a side effect.

Non-Infectious Disease:

Non-infectious diseases or noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are caused due to factors like lifestyle, genes, environment etc. These are not caused by pathogens, and hence, do not get transmitted from person to person.

Conditions like diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases etc., are examples of non-infectious diseases. Such conditions can cause body pain, but not in the same way as an infectious disease would.

What Causes Body Aches When Sick?

Body ache or muscle pain usually shows up as a symptom of an infectious disease. In this section, we will explore why it is so.

When the immune system detects a foreign object in our body, it gets activated. The immune system does a plethora of things like:

  • Identifying pathogens
  • Keeping the pathogens from multiplying
  • Remembering the pathogens, so a similar infection does not occur again
  • Attacking the pathogens

For attacking any invaders, our body uses ‘Killer T cells’. Killer T cells contain strong chemicals, which are released onto the pathogens to damage and kill them. The problem is, these chemicals indiscriminately damage anything they come in contact with.

The chemicals released by Killer T cells often damage our own cells and tissues that are in proximity of pathogens, as collateral damage. This is what leads to pain in the body. Therefore, the pain people experience occurs as a result of our immune system attacking our own cells, and not because of viral or bacterial infection.

How You Can Reduce This Pain:

As previously mentioned, the pain is like a side effect of the immune system doing its function. So, as the flu or fever subsides, the pain will slowly go away. However, if you want to get rid of this pain, you can try the following:

(i) Rest:

It is a well known fact that our body grows and recovers while we sleep. While battling the pathogens, the immune system uses a lot of our precious energy. This is why people are advised to rest during cold or fever. Resting will leave more energy for the immune system, which will make the recovery faster.

Resting will not directly reduce the body pain. However, it will help counter the underlying cause of the pain.

(ii) Drink More Fluids:

Certain side effects of some viral and bacterial infections, like sweating and vomiting, can cause dehydration. Dehydration can further worsen the body aches. To avoid this, try to drink enough water or consume fluids. Soup will not only replenish water, but also will provide other necessary nutrients to the body.

(iii) Over-the-counter (OTC) Painkiller Medicines

Over-the-counter pain relief medicines can be bought without having a prescription from a doctor. So, you need to be careful before using them.

If you are not in between an ongoing treatment, and are not at risk of any potential heart, kidney or liver diseases, you can choose to use OTC medicines. Some common over-the-counter pain relievers are asprin, ibuprofen, naporaxen etc.


Body pain during sickness is normal and is a part of the natural healing process. However, if you have lasting body pain, even after the flu or cold goes away, you should consider contacting a doctor.

In this blog, we have tried to explain why our body hurts when we are sick. A few tips to manage the pain are mentioned as well. We hope this blog was informative and interesting for you.

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