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Harvard Medical School
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Question : I have had nasal congestion and muscle aches for 3 months. I've already taken ibuprofen and allergy medicine. But my symptoms haven't improved. What could I have? Is it the flu?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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December 23, 2013
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Your second question is the easiest one to answer. No, this is not influenza (the flu).

There are many possibilities for your symptoms of nasal congestion and muscle aches. Without more information, it would not help to list them all.

Instead, let me give you an approach to help you figure out what might be going on.

First, you want to think about whether the two symptoms are just happening at the same time, but perhaps are not related.

For example, you definitely might have an indoor allergy causing the nasal congestion. And the muscle aches could be due to something completely different. For example, if you take a statin drug, the muscle aches could be a side effect of the medicine.

In a situation like yours, I ask my patients to think back to when they last felt completely well. And then I have them go through how they felt over each week. Specifics are important, including:

  • When did each of the symptoms start?
  • What other medicine did you try?
  • Did any of the drugs give you relief? Which did, and which did not?
  • What new events or changes in your life happened during the past few months?

It sounds like you will need to see your doctor again since you still don’t feel well. I suggest you write down these diary notes and bring it to your next visit.

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