Headaches and Muscle Aches: Management

Woman in blanket

Managing headaches and muscle aches

Here we discuss the recommendations for managing headaches and muscle pains as a result of the flu.

Steps for managing headaches and muscle aches

Magnifying glass icon


Identify and confirm the headache and muscle ache as symptoms of a flu infection.

Book icon


  • Increase patient awareness of minimising transmission of the virus to other people
  • Advise on ways they can alleviate their flu symptoms
Listening icon


Along with appropriate advice, recommend or provide treatments that best address their symptoms.

Patient and clinician

Educating your patients

As the influenza virus causes significant illness and even morbidity every year,1 patients should be educated on reducing their risk of becoming infected and how to help stop the spread of the virus. This includes:2

  • Using a tissue to cover coughs and sneezes
  • Regularly and thoroughly washing hands
  • Avoiding touching the face
  • Keeping up to date with yearly vaccinations
  • Maintain good hydration
  • Rest

It should also be explained to patients that there is no cure for the flu, but bothersome symptoms such as headaches and muscle aches can be managed with appropriate therapies, including:3

  • Non-prescription analgesics
  • Rest/sleep
  • Combination of prescription and non-prescription analgesics
  • Natural/alternative medicines

Analgesia is recommended for relief from headaches and muscle aches4,5

  • Paracetamol

    Pill icon

    Paracetamol for pain

    Paracetamol blocks prostaglandin signalling in the brain, and is clinically proven to relieve the headaches and muscle aches associated with the flu.5-8

    Paracetamol is considered the first-line therapy of choice in adults and children with headaches and muscle pains.6,9

  • NSAIDs

    Pill jar icon

    Ibuprofen and aspirin for pain

    NSAIDs block prostaglandin signalling throughout the body, and can also help to reduce the inflammatory pain of headaches and muscle aches.6

A man wearing a face mask & holding his forehead by both of his hands due to headache

Headaches and muscle aches not sufficiently relieved with analgesia

Meningitis and other serious conditions may mimic the symptoms of a flu infection. Patients experiencing severe headache, high fever, neck pain or stiffness, photophobia, or a purpura rash,10 should be referred to a physician for proper diagnosis.

In addition to the above, head pain should also be referred for appropriate medical attention,11 if it:

  • Is severe or sudden
  • Requires pain relievers more than twice a week
  • Is exacerbated by bending over or a Valsalva manoeuvre
  • Occurred after head trauma
Female clinician

Headache and muscle ache management: in summary

After appropriate diagnosis of the flu as the underlying cause of your patient’s headache and/or muscle aches, analgesia may be recommended for symptomatic relief, with paracetamol suggested as the first-line treatment.6,9

Panadol Cold & Flu – the Power to Feel Better

Headache icon

Headaches and Muscle Aches

Find out more about headaches and muscle aches.

Find out more

Causes icon


Find out about what causes headaches and muscle ache.

Find out more

Signs symptoms icons

Signs and symptoms

Learn more about other signs and symptoms of the flu.

Find out more

Patient resources icon

Patient care resources

Download resources for your patients.

Find out more

Panadol Cold & Flu logo

The Panadol Cold & Flu range

Find out how the Panadol Cold & Flu range can help your patients.

Find out more

Book icon

Learning Lab

Find out more in the learning lab

Find out more