The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 04-07-2004, 09:22 PM
Mississippienne Mississippienne is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Why do our bodies ache when we're sick?

Right now I'm fighting off a meanie-head bacterial infection with my trusty bottle of Zinthromax and my personal therapy tool, the SDMB. But the most miserable part isn't the sore throat, the phelgm, or the fever -- it's the aches and pains. Why in the world do my legs hurt? And my shoulders? What's up with that, anyway?

So, MediDopers, I'm posing this question to you: why does my body ache when I'm sick?
__________________
The poster formerly known as Nichol_storm. Graduate of Americorps *NCCC, Class X, Perry Point campus.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 04-07-2004, 10:21 PM
Dr_Paprika Dr_Paprika is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
I'll try to keep this simple.

When you have an infection, the body is generally pretty good at realizing that there are some "foreign bodies" around. Your immune system ramps itself up and tries to fight off the infection. It does this by making several types of white blood cells which help kill, "eat" and pacify infected cells. Several chemicals, include interleukins and cytokines, are released by cells to signal for help and fight off the infection. Several of these chemicals are "inflammatory mediators" which make the blood vessels leakier and cause pain and fever.

Many illnesses, including most infections, are associated with inflammation -- a process that generally involves redness and swelling (due to increased blood supply), tenderness (due to pain chemicals), heat or fever (largely due to a chemical called IL-1) and possibly "loss of function" at the cellular level.

Diffuse muscle pain, as in a flu infection, is a by-product of the chemicals used to signal the body to help fight the infection. Pain has an important function in protecting you by telling you not to do stuff that can cause more damage. Of course, pain is also a pain.

I'd be pleased to make this much more complicated.
__________________
"A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man"
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 04-08-2004, 11:49 AM
Bippy the Beardless Bippy the Beardless is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Thanks [B}Dr_Paprika[/B]
If the pain signal is a mechonism to get us to 'take it easy' I wonder why the signal isn't more like a feeling of sleepyness.
Is it just psychological that flu pain feels like it is in my bones, or is the pain chemical actualy concentrated or detected in my bones?
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 04-09-2004, 01:48 AM
Bob55 Bob55 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
I actually wonder sometimes why we try to combat these natural responses that sometimes cause pain. Our bodies usually know what they're doing, correct? For example - lets say I break my ankle. Well I could go take a ton painkillers and walk around on that ankle just fine, but it wouldn't be too good for the healing process, would it? This is why I try to avoid taking any painkilling medication if I can, and only take 1 aspirin at that (others in my family like to pop in 2 or 3 right off the bat).
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:11 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.