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Aches: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Aches

  • Body aches are common. They can result from tiredness or exercise, but they can also be a symptom of an underlying condition.
  • People can often identify and treat body aches without seeing a doctor. Sometimes, however, they may need medical help.

Causes:

Body aches may occur for many different reasons. Most are easily treatable and relatively harmless, but sometimes body aches can be due to more serious medical conditions.

Possible causes of body aches include:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Infections and viruses
  • Medications
  • Fluid retention
  • Hypokalemia
  • Stress
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of sleep
  • Pneumonia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • Arthritis
  • Autoimmune disorders

 The doctor can help diagnose the cause of body aches and determine if treatment is necessary.

If a person experiences body aches for more than 2 weeks, and they do not know what is causing them, they should see a doctor regardless of whether any other symptoms occur.

Symptoms:

  • Mild body aches that improve over time and ease with rest, rehydration, and OTC treatment are usually no cause for concern.
  • However, body aches can also be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.
  • If a person experiences frequent or persistent body aches or aches that occur alongside other, more severe symptoms, they should speak with a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Some common symptoms that occur alongside body aches are:

  • Pain in a specific part of the body
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Shivers or changes in body temperature
  • Cold and flu-like symptoms

Treatments:

A doctor will prescribe treatment for any underlying condition that causes body aches and pains, but a person can also try the following remedies to help alleviate the discomfort:

  • Resting: This allows the body time to repair and recuperate.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids: Staying hydrated can help ease achiness caused by dehydration.
  • Taking over-the-counter medications (OTC): Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Having a warm bath: The heat can help relax muscles and ease tension in the body.
  • Regulating temperature: This may include reducing a fever, keeping warm, or staying cool to alleviate shivering and prevent the muscles from seizing up.
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When to see a doctor?

A person should see a doctor if they experience:

  • Persistent pain that does not improve with home remedies
  • Severe pain, especially if there is no apparent cause
  • Any body aches or pains that occur with a rash
  • Body aches and pains after a tick bite
  • Body aches or muscular pain accompanied by severe redness or swelling
  • Body aches caused by a particular medication
  • A persistent fever

Other symptoms that can accompany body aches may require emergency medical attention. These include:

  • Severe water retention
  • Difficulty swallowing, eating, or drinking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting, particularly with a high temperature or fever
  • A stiff neck
  • Changes in vision
  • Extreme exhaustion that does not go away
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Weak muscles or inability to move part of the body
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • A seizure

The doctor can help diagnose the cause of body aches and determine if treatment is necessary.

If a person experiences body aches for more than 2 weeks, and they do not know what is causing them, they should see a doctor regardless of whether any other symptoms occur.

‘Ask Gogodoc About’ is an educational series providing information on various symptoms, pains, and disorders. (*intended for educational purposes only. If you are experiencing symptoms, please reach out to book an online GP consultation with a Gogodoc GP.) Talk to a doctor online at a time that suits you from home with a phone or video appointment. You can easily book an appointment with GP.

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