Flu and cold can be prevented. With these simple but effective tips, you can avoid a cough, runny nose, and fever. Experts cannot yet fully explain why the flu breaks out every year in winter. “Several studies have so far shown that influenza viruses feel particularly comfortable and multiply at low temperatures and in dry air,” Conversely, it is believed that our immune system is less potent under these conditions, and the mucous membrane of the upper respiratory tract becomes more susceptible to infection.
According to estimates by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), around 5 to 20 percent of Germans fall ill with flu every year – across all age groups. In an average of 10,000 of these, influenza-even leads to death. The 2014/2015 flu season was particularly tough, with an estimated 21,300 deaths. Children, the chronically ill, pregnant women, and the elderly (over 60 years of age) are particularly at risk.
Why Is The Flu So Contagious?
Influenza viruses are transmitted through droplets from one body to another, such as sneezing, talking, coughing, or kissing. However, the pathogens can also stay on contact surfaces such as door handles for a certain period and then reach the mucous membranes via the hand, for example, when touching the mouth or nose. “If you are infected, the flu usually breaks out after a day or two and lasts for up to a week,” explains Grasser. “The typical symptoms are high fever, headache and body aches, dry cough, and chills.”
How Long Is The Flu Contagious?
The flu can be contagious a day before the first symptoms. The rule of thumb also applies. The more severe the symptoms, the more contagious you are to other people.
These Eight Everyday Tips Offer The Best Protection Against Flu Infection:
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with warm water and soap – especially before cooking, eating, or after using the toilet.
- Keep your hands away from your face, and never touch your mouth, eyes, or nose with unwashed fingers.
- Avoid close contact with the sick and keep a distance of at least 2 meters. If someone at home has the flu, you should make sure that they are spatially separated and maintain common areas such as the kitchen or bathroom particularly clean.
- Keep the mucous membranes as moist as possible. Avoid dry, overheated rooms, ventilate regularly, and drink a lot.
- Protect wounds with a plaster or bandage to keep viruses from getting on the area.
- Try to avoid shaking hands during the flu months. Tip: A pat on the shoulder is also accepted as a friendly greeting.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Vitamins A, C, and B6 protect particularly well in the fight against flu viruses.
- Anyone who catches the flu stays at home until they are healthy again. Your ailing colleague does not want to see that? This makes him a danger to everyone else in the office. If necessary, make this clear to your boss. If he doesn’t send him home, there may be even more staff absent next week.
Does The Flu Vaccination Reduce The Risk Of Infection?
“The timely and annual vaccination is considered the best preventive measure against influenza viruses,” However, no vaccine provides 100 percent protection, as every year, it is never possible to predict with certainty which virus strains will prevail in the next flu wave. With a good match, however, a protective effect of up to 80 percent can be achieved. In various studies, scientists have also observed that influenza disease in vaccinated people is usually milder and with fewer complications than in unvaccinated people.
When Does A Flu Vaccination Make Sense – And For Whom?
In most cases, vaccination is advisable. However, one should make sure that this happens in consultation with a doctor. Only he can clarify in advance whether you may be allergic to specific components of the vaccine. It is best to get vaccinated in October or November because it takes up to two weeks for the vaccination protection to develop fully. However, it also makes sense to get vaccinated during a flu wave. Eventually, it sloshes around for up to 5 months.
In everyday life, our eight behavioral tips will help you to avoid nasty flu viruses safely. If you want to minimize the risk of infection further, you should take care of vaccination protection in good time, which should be refreshed annually.