Can Body Aches Be a Symptom of Allergies?

Seasonal allergies can lead to body aches and pain, in addition to other symptoms like congestion, coughing, and watery eyes. This is primarily because allergic reactions can trigger inflammatory responses in the body. Repeatedly coughing and sneezing can trigger even more pain.

There are a number of ways to treat and manage body aches and related allergy symptoms, from over-the-counter (OTC) medications and warm baths to resting sore muscles. Keep in mind, though, that many health conditions can lead to muscle aches and joint pain.

This article discusses how body aches may be a symptom of seasonal allergies, as well as some possible causes and treatments to manage symptoms. It also offers some tips for preventing body aches and other seasonal allergy symptoms.

Managing Allergies and Preventing Body Aches

Verywell / Mayya Agapova

What Are Body Aches?

Body aches are symptoms you feel in your joints and muscles, including pain, stiffness, and generalized weakness. Body aches have a number of possible causes, though, including:

Seasonal allergies also can lead to body aches, although there are a number of types of allergies (food allergies, for example) that can occur with a range of different symptoms.

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


Are Body Aches a Symptom of Allergies?

Body aches may be a symptom of seasonal allergies, also called allergic rhinitis. This may occur along with more common symptoms as part of a body-wide immune response to allergies.

Some of the reasons for body aches with seasonal allergies include:

  • Inflammation
  • Excessive coughing and sneezing
  • Seasonal allergy symptoms along with another condition

Your healthcare provider can help to diagnose the exact reason for your body aches.

Inflammation

When your immune system reacts to allergens, it triggers an inflammatory response.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.

Seasonal allergies that lead to body aches also may cause symptoms of:

  • Sneezing, coughing, and congestion, with a stuffy or runny nose
  • Urticaria, a skin rash also called hives
  • Sinus pressure, red and itchy eyes, or sore throat
  • Headache and fatigue

Some of the same chemicals that help fight off allergens also activate nerves in the body that causes pain in joints throughout your body.

Excessive Coughing and Sneezing

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

Pain can also come from your diaphragm, or breathing muscle, which can transfer pain to your shoulder or neck.

Body Aches and Other Health Conditions

In some cases, body ache symptoms caused by seasonal allergies may occur alongside another health issue. For example, your seasonal allergy symptoms may be made worse by the cold or flu.

People who have other inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may experience body aches with their seasonal allergies. Some studies have shows an association between the two conditions.

When to Seek Emergency Care for Body Aches from Allergies

Body aches from allergies can range from mild to moderate to severe, depending on the cause. Consider seeking emergency care for allergy-related body aches if:

  • They become too intolerable to manage
  • They last for a week or more
  • They make it hard to move
  • They're accompanied by fever
  • They're accompanied by shortness of breath

Treatment and Management of Body Aches

Body aches or pain caused by your allergies will likely improve along with other symptoms when you take medications. These options include:

  • Over-the-counter antihistamines like Benadryl (diphenhydramine) or Allegra (fexofenadine)
  • OTC nasal spray steroids like Flonase (fluticasone), also available in prescription strength

Allergy shots also may be used to treat seasonal allergies and reduce body ache symptoms.

To reduce muscle and joint pain, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like Aleve (naproxen) or Advil (ibuprofen) may help. You also can try:

  • Taking a warm bath or using a heating pad
  • Trying an ice pack (cold treatment) if heat doesn't work
  • Hugging a pillow or towel against your chest when you cough or sneeze
  • Avoiding excess physical activity to allow your muscles to heal

An allergist conducts specific skin tests or blood tests to identify allergies and development an appropriate treatment plan.If you're managing body ache symptoms at home, be sure to speak to your allergy specialist before changing how you use your medications or adding new ones.

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. You can try to:

  • 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.

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.

Try staying inside on windy days, because wind lifts allergen particles off the ground, making you more likely to breathe them in.

When to See Your Healthcare Provider

Body aches related to allergies can also often be a symptom of cold, flu, or viral infection. Consider visiting your healthcare provider if:

  • Your body aches last more than a few days
  • You have a temperature of higher than 103 degrees
  • You experience persistent nausea or vomiting
  • You have pain in the ribs, lungs, or chest

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.

Summary

Seasonal allergies can lead to body aches along with more common symptoms, including watery eyes, a runny nose, and coughing and sneezing. That's because muscle aches and joint pain are part of the body's immune response to inflammation caused by your allergies.

Body aches also can be caused by excessive coughing and sneezing because of your allergies, which is why it may help to support your chest with a pillow or apply a heating pad while you heal.

Home remedies and over-the-counter medications often bring relief from body ache symptoms. But don't ignore chest pain (it may be heart-related) or pain symptoms that either don't go away or worsen over time.

A Word From Verywell

While seasonal allergies can cause annoying symptoms, including body aches, they typically resolve as seasons change. Talk to your healthcare provider 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. More often, though, typical symptoms of a runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes occur, especially in kids.

  • 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. If you're not experiencing relief with over-the-counter drugs, speak to your healthcare provider about prescription treatments.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Aubrey Bailey, PT, DPT, CHT
Aubrey Bailey is a physical therapist and professor of anatomy and physiology with over a decade of experience providing in-person and online education for medical personnel and the general public, specializing in the areas of orthopedic injury, neurologic diseases, developmental disorders, and healthy living.