When the influenza virus enters the body, it triggers an immune response that leads to inflammation. This process causes blood vessels to become leaky, allowing immune cells to travel to the site of infection and attack the virus. The characteristic flu symptoms, such as muscle and joint aches, are a result of this inflammatory response.
Inflammation can also affect the nerves in the body, making them more sensitive to pain. This increased sensitivity is what makes muscle and joint aches feel so intense and uncomfortable. The combination of inflammation and increased nerve sensitivity is what makes the flu feel so achy and miserable.
Understanding the role of inflammation in flu symptoms can help explain why over-the-counter pain relievers, which reduce inflammation, can help alleviate some of the discomfort. Additionally, this knowledge can inform the development of new treatments for the flu that target the inflammatory response itself.