flu recovery breathing ache and pains

By Dr Guy Ashburner | September 21, 2020

flu recovery breathing ache and pains

The proper functioning of the lymphatic system is critical to our body’s ability to drain stagnant fluids, detoxify, regenerate tissues, filter out toxins and foreign substances, and maintain a healthy immune system - Asdonk, 1970, Adair and Guyton, 1982

Flu is a generic term for a respiratory infection produced by several distinct influenza viruses, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It infects the lungs, nose, and throat, and produces several symptoms. One of these is body aches. If you do feel body aches coming on, it could be more serious than just a little winter cold.

Muscles feel so sore, sensitive to the touch and achy and it hurts to move. Pain with movement of the muscle and tends to be more generalized than an exercise- or injury-related pain which tends to be more localized to a specific muscle. Muscles aches associated with the flu are normally felt in the arms, legs and back and occasionally the eye muscles. The achiness ranges from mild to severe. Additionally, body aches can leave you feeling weak, fatigued, and extremely exhausted.

Cytokines are small proteins that are an important part of the body’s immune response and trigger things like the fever, inflammation, runny nose and aches often associated with a case of the flu. Cytokines can stop viruses reproducing. However, an exaggerated cytokine response can cause real damage if not controlled. This is exactly what happens in a cytokine storm. The onset of fever and aches warns people that they have the flu, and it is a good idea to see the doctor to get treatment.

As our bodies fight off viral infections the body heats up in order to kill off the virus. In order to do this, our cells must use a significant amount of the body’s water source. In conjunction with a fever we lose our appetite and thirst and tend to refuse to replenish our weakening body. Dehydration may also contribute to body aches when you have the flu. The body always needs water and electrolytes to prevent muscle cramping and soreness and help recover from common flu symptoms.

The flu isn’t just a health risk for the duration that you’re physically sick with the virus—it can also have some lasting effects. Coughing and sneezing lead to body exhaustion and pain and can affect the ability to get restorative sleep. With every cough or sneeze, a tightening occurs of muscles and ligaments near the ribs, shoulders, neck, and low back. This muscle contraction pulls spinal joints out of place, resulting in muscle spasm and discomfort. Breathing muscles become tightened and deconditioned from prolonged bedrest and many muscles no longer contract properly, which can contribute to inefficient breathing patterns. Those who have been in respiratory distress may use their accessory muscles of respiration versus their diaphragm. This increases the work of breathing. Influenza infection also hinders walking and leg strength.

In young individuals, these effects are temporary but can linger significantly longer in older individuals which could result in the elderly being more prone to falls during recovery. It could also result in long-term limiting mobility and independence. After full recovery and appropriate quarantine from the flu Osteopathic treatment aims to improve the function of efficient breathing through increasing joint mobility of a restricted rib cage and thoracic fascia and musculature as well as aiding sinus function. Joint mobilizations of the individual ribs and thoracic spine can be implemented to return the natural glide and motion needed for a full inhalation/exhalation. Functional mobility of the spine supports normal physiology of the nervous system which is essential for our health.

Nerve irritation or impingement can result from inflammation, poor lymphatic drainage, tight muscles and fascia which may reduce spinal joint mobility. Osteopaths focus on reducing tension in aching muscles to relax and soothe areas affected by coughing and sneezing. Osteopathic treatment also aims to support the function of the diaphragm, the muscle just under your rib cage. The diaphragm is the primary muscle of respiration and during inspiration, it contracts and pulls downward. The muscles between the ribs (intercostals), work with the diaphragm to expand the chest to allow air to fill the lungs. When they are tight, the chest can’t expand as efficiently. In addition osteopathic lymph drainage may help to recirculate body fluids, reducing fluid congestion, stimulate functioning of the immune system, and promote a state of relaxation and balance within the autonomic nervous system. Osteopaths can advise on breathing exercises that may help with a greater diffusion of oxygen throughout the body.

Osteopathy looks at structural and mechanical dysfunctions of the body and aims to restore the whole system to a state of balance. Benefits include; pain relief, optimum functioning of your body; and protection against future illness and injury.


View a list of common complains that Osteopathy can assist with

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