Talking to a friend today, she mentioned that she’d been sick for the last three weeks with a virus that "really kicked her to the curb". She was "totally out of it" with high fever and her muscles ached so much that she couldn’t move. Yikes, it’s 100 degrees, I thought that the flu was a winter malady.
So, I started thinking about why and how a virus could cause so much muscle pain and weakness. Anyone that’s had the flu is familiar with the common symptoms and has probably experienced this ache. It appears from the medical research, the most likely cause is that there is minor inflammation of the muscles caused by the virus or bacteria that is attacking the body’s cells. The body’s cells are fighting this virus so muscles and joints may become deprived of the normal flow of blood and fluid. This causes the aching.
The common and unpleasant symptoms of flu (influenza) cause a depletion of fluids from the body because of persistent vomiting and diarrhea. But sometimes the muscle aching begins before these other symptoms or occurs even though you don't experience this unpleasantness.
The fever is one of the body’s most effective responses for killing off the virus.
It is believed that it is the increasing body temperature that causes an increase at the cellular level.
What adds to the dehydration is that the flu victim is usually not thirsty and doesn’t feel like eating. Loss of body fluids means that the body is losing ions or electrolytes which enable the healing and optimum functioning of the body. These functions include muscle contraction, nerve impulses as well as the basic metabolism of the cells.
As far as the muscles are concerned, getting potassium back into the body is a key healer. Avocados and dark green vegetables, like spinach, don’t sound very appealing when you’re sick but they are richer in potassium and sodium than the favored banana. Calcium, magnesium and sodium are also important, but if potassium levels are low, the ion channels in the muscle cells can’t function properly which leads to the sensation of fatigue. Without potassium and other molecules such as ATP, your muscles just can't function!
Can’t get that spinach down? Drink Gatorade or a lower sugar alternative that is rich in electrolytes. And drink water! Stay healthy.