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Illnesses That Cause Body Aches but No Fever

Updated on May 05, 2016
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Trained in dentistry, Sree is currently studying lab sciences. She enjoys researching various health topics and writing about her findings.

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While it is a fact that infection caused by a virus often leads to either slight or high fever, there are many viruses that cause only body aches.

Being aware of those viruses is vital to one’s health, since anyone suffering from a viral condition should consult a physician.

Afebrile Influenza (Flu Without a Fever)

It can be hard to determine if you are suffering from influenza (flu) virus. Most of the time, people experience either mild or severe fever when they have flu; however, it is also possible to have the flu without one.

When an individual has the flu, symptoms are immediately apparent. The infection begins very quickly, without any forewarning. The person feels sore and sick all over the body, including the back, legs, and arms.

There may also be a noticeable dry, hacking cough that does not produce phlegm. One may feel fatigued and weakened all over, making it hard get up from bed. Vomiting and diarrhea can also occur but are more prevalent among children. Other symptoms include sore throat and headache.

Other Possibilities

As just mentioned, while a regular symptom of influenza is having a fever, not all people who is infected by flu will actually suffer from one.

Even so, it is essential to rest and treat your illness properly as it can still be contagious or it could develop into something more serious than it actually is if overlooked. You should not be complacent about experiencing body aches.

When you experience flu-like symptoms but have no fever, then it might be just a case of the common cold. The difference between the two is not always easy to see because sometimes colds can cause a slight fever as well.

However, more often than not, flu symptoms are worse than that of the common cold. Extreme daytime fatigue or exhaustion is also common when you have the flu but not when you have a cold.

There are a lot of misconceptions concerning the flu. Many symptoms may be encountered in the course of illness, however not all of them must be present for a flu diagnosis.

Have you ever had body aches without a fever?

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When the thermometer doesn't reflect how sick you feel.
When the thermometer doesn't reflect how sick you feel.

Seasonal Illnesses (Other Than Flu)

Viruses that cause the flu typically affect more people during the cold season, but can attack at any time of the year. There are many types of viruses that may cause respiratory ailments and other symptoms similar to influenza.

Therefore, it can be difficult to know for certain if a person has the flu based on mere symptoms. The only way to know for sure is to see your doctor and have tests performed.

The common symptoms for seasonal illnesses are nasal congestion, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and having an itchy nose or eyes. You could also have body aches, though these are less common.

At times, these symptoms are not really caused by a viral infection but by an allergic reaction to the season. But because some of the symptoms of are quite similar, it can be hard to perceive the distinction between them. Knowing the difference between a cold and an allergy may help you distinguish the two from one another.


Colds are caused by hundreds of different viruses (which will be described in detail in the next paragraphs). Once a cold virus enters your body, the response of the immune system is to immediately confront it. And some of the results of this immune system reaction are the standard cold symptoms of coughing, sneezing, nasal congestion, and body aches.


Meanwhile, an allergy is caused by the immune system going hypersensitive. This means that the immune response is overactive. Antibodies mistake nontoxic and inoffensive substances in your body as pathogens or a potential threat, and so they strike at them.

When this happens, the body automatically discharges a chemical called histamine to ease it, but it then causes the same classic cold symptoms mentioned above. This makes it confusing to identify a cold from an allergy.

However, the major difference between the two is that colds are contagious while allergies are not. Also, colds can last for only a few days to a couple of weeks, while allergies can last for a long time, even months, as long as you are still exposed to the particular allergen.

Knowing these differences will help you manage these kinds of symptoms. You can undergo an allergy test to confirm that it is indeed an allergy.

When chills and body aches occur, consulting your healthcare provider may be your best option to find out the real cause.

Colds, Rhinovirus, or Upper Respiratory Infections (URI)

A lot of people may get other ailments mixed up with the flu since symptoms can be similar. Hundreds of different viruses can cause cold symptoms.

A rhinovirus is the most widespread cause of viral infections in humans, infecting people globally, and is the main vehicle of the common cold. The thriving temperature of this virus ranges from about 33 to 35 degrees Celsius (or 91 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit), which is typically the warmth of the conditions inside the nose.

There are almost a hundred types of rhinoviruses that affect people and they are all distinct when it comes to their cell surface receptor (surface or membrane proteins). They are among the smallest viruses, about ten times smaller than the VACV and the smallpox virus.

Rhinoviruses transfer from one host to another by ingesting the sprayed lung droplets of infected individuals (e.g. sneezing), and when individuals touch surfaces or use items that are already contaminated with the virus.

Indicators of rhinovirus include rhinitis, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, and sneezing. At times, these go along with muscle pains, headaches, and appetite loss, but fever is rare. Sometimes body aches and chills are experienced, but it is usually caused by an underlying condition. If these kinds of symptoms arise, a visit to the doctor is highly encouraged.

Any individual can be infected, but it mostly affects older people, children, and people who are immunocompromised. A cold typically starts with a sore throat which normally improves within two days. You may experience congestion, runny nose, and coughing after the 4th or 5th day. Mucus may become darker and thicker as the condition progresses.

Dark secretions are not atypical and are not necessarily an indication of bacterial infection. Sometimes a sinus infection or laryngitis may occur. Some soreness may be felt but fever is not really common among adults, although kids often have a fever.

A normally healthy child can catch a cold and experience body aches without fever, which can somehow be distressing to parents.

This can be alarming, though most of the time it is only a common viral infection that can be monitored and treated at home. However, if symptoms persist for days, calling his or her doctor is perhaps the best thing to do.

The most preferred management for this type of infection include drinking plenty of fluids, getting enough rest, and over-the-counter medications to lessen the symptoms.

Swine Flu

The swine flu (also known as H1N1 type A influenza) is similar to the common flu and may present with classic flu-like symptoms, but it isn't the same.

Swine flu may or may not present with symptoms of fatigue, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, body aches, and fever. Vomiting and diarrhea may sometimes occur. Only lab tests can definitively tell whether you've got swine flu.

The swine influenza virus literally comes from pigs or hogs, as its name suggests. There are many types of swine flu viruses that can infect people. H1N1 type A influenza is just one of them.

While most swine flu viruses are not transferable from pigs to humans, those that are frequently exposed to these animals are at a higher risk of contracting the disease. It is good to know, however, that the meat of these animals does not cause the infection as long as it is cooked thoroughly.

In 2009, an H1N1 global pandemic occurred affecting North America, Mexico, Europe, and Asia. A lot of countries, including the United States, have isolated their patients to prevent further spreading. It was even pronounced by U.S. President Barack Obama as a “national emergency.”

Experts found out that the swine flu virus that infected the U.S. and Mexico was different from the one that spread throughout Europe and Asia. The one found in the Americas is newer and is said to be the cause of a rare genetic material mixture between the common influenza and the swine influenza in the other continents.

Although the death rate from swine flu is not that high, it is still considered one of the most disconcerting diseases worldwide. The most common cause of death from H1N1 is respiratory failure and most of those who died were children and old people.

Here are some tips on how to prevent the acquisition and spreading of swine flu:

  • Swine-to-person transmission – This mainly happens in pig farms so if you are not working in one or not exposed to one, there is nothing to worry about. If you are, then use face masks when handling live pigs. Smoking decreases your immune response to the virus so quitting is recommended.
  • Person-to-person transmission – The disease is passed on when an infected person sneezes or coughs on you and then you inhale the droplets. You can also catch it by touching an object with the virus and then touching your face afterwards. Avoid touching your face and keep your hands sanitized.

Strep Throat

Strep throat is a bacterial throat infection. Its symptoms may include a sore and scratchy throat, chills, and body aches. There may be a loss of appetite.

It's important to identify strep throat for a number of reasons. If untreated, strep throat can cause complications such as kidney inflammation and rheumatic fever, which in turn can lead to painful and inflamed joints, a rash, and even damage to heart valves.

As you may notice, strep throat is different from the regular sore throat that usually precedes a flu or a cold because it is bacterial in nature, while the latter is viral. Strep throat is typically more severe and lasts longer as well.

Regular sore throats last for one to two days only then goes away on its own, while strep throats need to be treated for you to be healed. It should still be taken seriously.

One reason is because strep throats also causes tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils), which should be treated immediately to avoid complications such as rheumatic heart disease or kidney problems. Since it is caused by a bacteria, prescribed antibiotics will help cure it.

Other ways to quickly recuperate from strep throat is drinking lots of water to keep your throat moist, drinking soothing herbal teas, and bed rest. It is also important to isolate yourself for a while until your symptoms are no longer there to avoid passing the bacteria to others.

Seasonal Allergies

It may feel like the flu or a cold, but it might just be allergies. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes and nose, congestion, and runny nose (but not body aches, usually).

As discussed above, allergies are different from a flu or a cold in the sense that it is caused by an overactive immune system. A tablet of antihistamine may just do the trick.

Symptoms: Flu vs. Cold

Influenza (Flu)
Common Cold
Body aches
Moderate to severe
Absent or mild
Dry, unproductive
Wet, productive
Sore throat
Onset of symptoms
3-6 hours after exposure

Cold vs. Swine Flu (Video)

Fallacies About Flu Symptoms

The flu is caused by a virus. Hence, it is most often assumed to occur with fever. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) report that although fever is a common symptom for this condition, not all individuals who get sick with flu will also have fever.

There are many reasons why this is possible. It could be a side effect from any prescription drug you are taking. You should consult with your doctor regarding the medicines you have at the moment just to be sure.

Another possible cause are bladder infections. Although uncommon, chills, body aches, or common flu symptoms can be symptoms of a bladder infection.

Flu Diagnosis

Not all flu diagnoses require laboratory tests, but it can help make a diagnosis more certain. For instance, if patient is afebrile (has no fever), a quick test will help the doctor predict the duration and prescribe the right treatment.

Also, if flu is determined in time (no more than 2 days after symptoms first develop), the doctor can prescribe Tamiflu to help alleviate and lessen the illness.

Rapid influenza tests can give results in 15 minutes. Other clinical tests include drawing labs or taking samples from the respiratory tract.

Flu Prevention

Vaccination is highly recommended by the CDC. There are two types of flu vaccines to prevent flu incidences: one is the seasonal flu vaccine and the other is the swine flu vaccine. In addition to the shots, they are both available in nasal sprays that contain a live but attenuated form of the virus.

Flu vs. Cold in Children (Video)

Other Conditions Associated with Body Aches

There is a long list of conditions associated with body aches or pains. Once a viral infection is ruled out, your doctor may consider other options as a cause for your aching which are (among others):

  • Stress
  • Exercise or physical activity
  • A reaction or side effect of medication
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lyme disease
  • Lupus
  • Viral gastroenteritis

Flu Attack! How A Virus Invades Your Body


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    • profile image

      Lisa Gorecki 22 months ago

      My husband has been diagnosed with Strongyloides. He's b12 deficient. He's weak freezing cold sweats nausea week diateah. He's been treated but he's still sick.

    • profile image

      rayhan ahmed 4 months ago

      He needs b12 injections with full blood test s.

    • profile image

      Jody 3 months ago

      Maybe a parasitic cleanse?

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      vocalcoach 3 months ago

      I recently had a virus lasting 3 months. While hospitalized I was given test after test. Symptoms began with stomach-type flu which only lasted 2 days. Then body aches, fatigue and lack of appetite took over along with dehydration.

      Appreciate your hub on this subject. Informative and highly helpful. Sharing and thanks.

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      Denise 46 hours ago

      My husband has had body aches for three days. He's not sneezing, coughing, no fever, he's had flu shot. He has copd .

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