Body aches and pains are something we’ve all experienced, and there are a number of different factors – many of them medical – that can play a contributing role. Below, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician from Vancouver, breaks down the most common causes of body aches and pains and what you can do in order to find relief.
The flu is one of the most common causes – if not the most common cause – of body aches and pains and general feelings of malaise, with white blood cells being the culprit. Typically, our white blood cells are responsible for rebuilding and repairing muscle fibres that get damaged from day to day activities. However, when you have the flu or any type of respiratory related infection, those white blood cells also tend to produce a chemical known as cytokines, and this chemical results in those sore, achy bones and joints that you feel when you have the flu. The good news is it’s only temporary. Once your flu has subsided, so will those body aches and pains. In the meantime, if you’re still fighting the flu, taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen may not only help reduce the level of pain you’re feeling, but can also reduce your fever and help you get a better night’s rest – and, as we all know, it’s important not to overexert yourself when you’re fighting a virus. Doing too much too soon may result in your symptoms either worsening, or you may even develop back to back illnesses.
Unbeknownst to many, stress can negatively impact your body in a number of different ways – both outwardly and inwardly. For example, when you experience stress, you may find it more difficult to fight off things like the common cold, influenza, or other illnesses. When stressed, your body is also unable to control how it responds to inflammation, which means you’re not only more susceptible to inflammation, but also more likely to feel aches and pains. If you are stressed you might have a high heart rate, high blood pressure, frequent headaches, hot flashes or cold sweats, and you may also hyperventilate. There are many different reasons why an individual might be feeling stressed, and in order to reduce things like body aches and pains and some of the other aforementioned symptoms, Dr. Ali Ghahary says it’s important to be able to identify what triggers that stress to begin with.
Dr. Ali Ghahary has previously written about the importance of drinking water. Water is essential to the normal and healthy functioning of your body. Without it, you will become dehydrated which can result in physical pain (such as body aches and pains.) Signs of dehydration include fatigue, dizziness, feeling disoriented, headaches, and extreme thirst. Darker urine is also often associated with dehydration. To avoid this and other health problems from occurring, it’s recommended that you drink at least 6 to 8 250ml glasses of water each day
In order for your body’s tissues and cells to stay healthy, you need to get proper sleep. Without it, you can run into all sorts of problems including body aches, as well as memory problems such as the inability to concentrate and retain information. To prevent these issues from arising, you need to ensure you have a consistent sleep schedule each night. Different techniques that Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends trying before you go to bed include drinking hot tea (chamomile, for example, has been long used as a natural sleep remedy), meditation, and no electronic use at least 2 hours before bed – including televisions, computers and smartphones.
If you’ve tried all of the above tips and are still experiencing severe body aches and pains, this could be an indicator of another underlying condition – such as arthritis – and you should see your family physician to discuss as soon as possible.