JAN 28, 2017 8:25 AM PST

How the Flu Brings Aches and Pains

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Flu season is, once again, upon us. While the influenza vaccine significantly reduces the incidence of flu cases, some people will inevitably get sick this season. And among the symptoms that the flu virus brings, the most dreaded symptoms are the aches and pains that leave people bedbound.

As it turns out, your body aches when you get the flu not because of the virus itself, but because of your own body's immune response to the virus. When the body recognizes the influenza invader, it responds by producing antibodies and chemicals to fight the infection. These chemicals help the white blood cells travel throughout the body to attack the virus. Some of these immune response chemicals end up in muscles and joints where they trigger pain receptors, thereby causing the telltale aches and pain typically associated with being sick.

So next time you're sick and bemoaning the pain, just remember that it's your immune system doing its job. If that's not enough, try warm baths, along with some over-the-counter pain relievers to soothe the muscles. Watch the video to learn more!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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