Can Allergies Cause Body Aches?

How to Manage Symptoms

Although not often discussed, seasonal allergies can lead to body aches and pain in addition to other symptoms like congestion, coughing, and watery eyes. This is due to increased inflammation in the body. Repeatedly coughing and sneezing can trigger even more pain. Read more to learn how to better manage seasonal allergies and help prevent body aches.

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Allergies, Body Aches, and Other Symptoms

When you think of seasonal allergy symptoms, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn't body aches. However, allergies do cause a full-body response. Your immune system decides that the offending substance (the allergen) is "foreign" and sends chemicals to fight it off. The most common symptoms of allergies often include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Skin rash or hives
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Itchy or sore throat
  • Headache
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Stuffy nose
  • Difficulty smelling
  • Pressure in your sinuses
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Fatigue

How Allergies Can Cause Body Aches and Pain

When your immune system reacts to allergens, it triggers a process called an inflammatory response. This inflammatory response, or inflammation, is a vital defense mechanism in your body. For example, when you get injured and start bleeding, the inflammatory response brings cells to the affected area to help clot your blood and form a scab to begin the healing process.

However, when your body produces inflammation in response to an allergen—mistakenly thinking it's a threat—it can cause annoying—sometimes life-threatening—side effects.

During inflammation, chemicals are released by the immune system that bring white blood cells to the affected area to fight off the harmful substance. Pain can also be part of the inflammatory response. Some of the same chemicals that help fight off allergens also activate nerves in the body that causes pain in joints throughout your body.

Which Parts of the Body Are Most Affected by Allergies?

Seasonal allergies most often affect your respiratory system—nose, sinuses, throat, and lungs. However, pain from allergies can also affect other parts of your body.

Repeatedly coughing and sneezing can strain the muscles between your ribs or the cartilage that attaches your ribs to your breastbone (a condition called costochondritis), causing a lot of pain. Pain can also come from your diaphragm, or breathing muscle, which can transfer pain to your shoulder or neck.

This pain is usually sharp and intense and worsens when you breathe, sneeze, laugh, or cough.

Don't Ignore Chest Pain

While chest pain can occur with allergies, it can also be a sign of a life-threatening heart attack. Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect your chest pain might not be related to your allergies. Other signs of heart attack can include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or numbness in the neck, jaw, or arms
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling hot or cold
  • Breaking out in a sweat
  • Pressure in your chest

Diagnosis

Allergies are typically diagnosed by an allergist, or doctor who specializes in treatment of allergies and other immune system disorders.

Allergies are tested through skin tests or blood tests. The most common type of skin test is called a scratch, or prick, test. During this test, a small amount of the suspected allergen is placed on a needle called a lancet and punctured into your skin. The doctor will mark the area that is tested and check for redness or swelling after approximately 15 minutes.

Blood tests can also be performed to check for allergies, but they are often more expensive and you won't get your results right away.

Treatment

Treating Allergies

There are several types of treatment available for seasonal allergies. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications can temporarily decrease your symptoms and improve your ability to breathe. Medications might be taken by mouth or come in the form of nasal spray or eye drops.

More than one type of medication can be used to treat allergy symptoms. Antihistamines are medications that block the chemicals that react to your specific allergens, while decongestants decrease swelling in your nose and reduce stuffiness. In more serious cases, prescription medications or allergy shots might be required.

Treating Body Aches

Body aches or pain caused by your allergies will likely improve along with other symptoms when you take allergy medications, but OTC anti-inflammatory medications might also be helpful.

Taking a warm bath or using a heating pad can also help decrease body aches and pain. If heat doesn't help, you can try applying an ice pack.

If your symptoms are worse when you cough, which is very likely, hug a pillow or rolled towel against your chest when you cough or sneeze. Avoid excess physical activity to allow your muscles to heal.

Rib Pain: When to See A Doctor

Although it's very rare, a person can cough hard enough to crack or break a rib. This injury, called a rib fracture, typically causes constant, severe pain that does not improve with medications. See your doctor if you suspect you've damaged a rib.

Managing Allergies and Preventing Body Aches

Seasonal allergies usually strike during spring, summer, or fall, depending on your specific allergens. Unfortunately, there's no way to prevent seasonal allergies and body aches. However, there are things you can do to help manage your symptoms.

Avoid your allergens whenever possible: Plan outdoor activities during times of the day when allergen levels are lower. For example, pollen levels tend to be higher in the mornings than in the evenings.

Wear a mask: If you have to be outdoors for significant periods of time during allergy season, consider wearing a mask to help filter allergens out of the air you breathe.

Watch the forecast: Weather can have a significant impact on seasonal allergies. While rain washes pollen away, pollen levels can spike right after a rainfall. Other allergens, such as mold, thrive in hot, humid weather.

Stay inside on windy days: Wind lifts allergen particles off the ground, making you more likely to breathe them in.

A Word From Verywell

While seasonal allergies can cause annoying symptoms, including body aches, they typically resolve as seasons change. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment for your allergies to improve your quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can seasonal allergies cause body aches, as well as fatigue?

    Yes. While body aches and fatigue are not the most common symptoms of seasonal allergies, they do occur.

  • How long will allergies with body aches last?

    Allergies will continue as long as you are exposed to your specific allergen. Symptoms, including body aches, can often be managed with medications.

  • Which home remedies should I use to treat allergies and body aches?

    Allergy symptoms such as body aches can be treated with warm baths or a heating pad. Hug a pillow when coughing to reduce rib pain.

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10 Sources
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