The most important facts about the flu

What is the difference between influenza and the common cold?

Here there is a slight Aida wish formula: Who asks this question or the flu and cold to perk up confused, never had a flu with a severe course. Because you can easily be of a common cold are different.

These are the typical symptoms of a flu

A flu sets in very quickly, yet it felt healthy, then the temperature rises rapidly. In severe cases, patients have up to a 41 degree fever, in milder cases, the temperature is increased. Sufferers usually have pain with a dry cough and severe head and muscle. Often, the nose is running. Ill feel very weak, run down and have no appetite.

The flu usually lasts about a week, in severe cases even longer. To the part Affected are so massively sick, that they need to be treated in the hospital. This also depends on possible complications, such as pneumonia. People with certain chronic diseases, small children and infants, the elderly and Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable when it comes to complications. In some cases, the flu infection ends up even fatal.

But: people can become infected with influenza viruses, to develop without noticeably. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) picks up the infection in about a third of those Affected to such an asymptomatic course. In a further third of the course is comparatively mild, then some, but not all, of the symptoms resemble those of a cold.

These are the typical symptoms of a cold

In the case of the common cold, the condition deteriorates slowly. People feel dull, the nose runs or is tight, throat hurts, cough. Only very rarely catch a cold is associated with fever, but a slightly elevated temperature can occur. Sometimes, head -, and limb pain. In contrast to the flu, sick is not Sick passed mostly the appetite, although the food tastes in the case of a blocked nose rather bland. How long a cold lasts, reveals a figure of speech: Without treatment, it lasts seven days, with therapy a week.

Why the two diseases are often confused? Probably it is because the common cold is medically referred to as viral colds, and is colloquially used, it is soon a case of the flu.

What is the cause of the flu?

The trigger for the flu influenza virus. The flu viruses are, unfortunately, a large, ever-changing family.

This has two consequences:

  • Anyone who has a flu, unfortunately, is not the Rest of his life before infection protected.
  • And who wants to protect themselves with a vaccination against the flu, have to address this every year. Because each season circulate to other flu viruses. A vaccination that protects against all of them, could not connect to researchers as of yet unfortunately.

In Germany, most people in January and February, Contracting the flu, in some years, the Flu season can start even earlier or in March. How big the flu season is, depends on the respective pathogens.

How is the flu?

If a flu-sick sneezes and coughs, there is risk of Infection. Because small and larger droplets, which are full of viruses to be catapulted to the outside. This liquid comes in contact with mucous membranes – nose, or mouth, you will catch the next Unfortunate flu. Also when shaking hands can transmit the flu virus, for example, if an Infected person blowing his nose into handkerchief, then shortly after, a Hand shake, and the sums Over, then a little later at the mouth or nose. Therefore, regular hand is washing as an important preventive measure in the Flu season. The also provide protection against cold viruses, which can also make use of this route of infection.

The flu viruses are in the body, and coming soon, the first symptoms: The incubation period is on average only one to two days. As long as someone coughs and sniffles, he is usually contagious.

Suspected flu – and then?

If someone has a flu, with various laboratory tests to determine the influenza virus, or against, specific antibodies can prove it. During a Flu epidemic Doctors refrain, however, from practical considerations, sometimes on these diagnostic possibilities.

Who present with cough, runny nose, headache or sore throat at the doctor, who is already sick, whether it is a cold or a flu. This is necessary for the recovery of the patient and protects at the same time colleagues of the infection.

What helps with a flu?

Anti Viral Drugs

Specifically against the flu viruses, two neuraminidase inhibitors are Oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu) and Zanamivir (brand name Relenza).

However, the Use of these antiviral agents, which are prescription-only, is limited and controversial. You can reduce the duration of illness when influenza is likely to be. If dangerous complications occur less often, is not proven. Among the possible side effects are Nausea and vomiting.

Doctors recommend, not every those suffering from Influenza with neuraminidase inhibitors to treat, but only patients who need a hospital are already ill or otherwise at increased risk for complications.

Because the flu virus is caused not by bacteria, not help the antibiotics fight the infection. In some cases, Doctors prescribe the means anyway, and if there is an indication that the patient has in addition to or as a result of the flu fight with a bacterial infection of the respiratory tract.

Home remedies and over-the-counter products

Otherwise, you can only wait and see, that the immune system of its working and to mitigate all the while trying to the unpleasant symptoms, as well. The most important measure is rest.

Over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce headaches and joint pain relieve and fever.

What helps against nasal congestion and a cough? While there are a variety of home remedies as well as medications in the pharmacy, but the scientific evidence for their effectiveness is poor.

If one feels so, for example, Inhale, gargle or nasal douche as a helpful boon, you can stay. Who’s obsessing more than it. The Sucking of sweets, or a warm scarf can help relieve the sore throat a little, but also not a Must.

And if you are packing in the hope of Symptom relief in the pharmacy with over-the-counter products, or prefer to stoically suffers, is ultimately a question of taste.

Doctors also recommend to take plenty of liquids, in the Form of tea or broth. And to ventilate the sick room on a regular basis.

So, it can be prevented by Hygiene and Vaccination

The best is, of course, if the flu breaks out in the first place. As a preventive measure two different measures: Vaccination and Hygiene will help.

Flu vaccination

Because there are very many different strains of flu viruses, every year a new vaccine to protect against those pathogens that circulate in the respective season the most. That doesn’t work the same every year, so the vaccine is also in some years, a better protection than in others.

Who wants to get a flu shot, the best in the autumn, but also for a later date can still be useful. However, it takes approximately two weeks until the immune system is prepared as a result of the vaccination as well to the particular virus that is protected by a large probability of a flu disease.

The Standing Committee on vaccination (Stiko) recommends some groups of people, the annual vaccination to be valid for all 60-Year-old, for many of the chronically Ill, for Pregnant women (starting in the second trimester of pregnancy). Furthermore, the vaccination is encouraged also people who have a greater risk, in the case of illness to infect others, medical staff for example.

During the flu of the flu virus is triggered, a cold to other pathogens, including Rhino and corona viruses. Who can be against the flu shot, is not immune against colds.


The flu can spread when virus coughs of a Sick or sneezed and then go on to other people. This can happen when coughing or Sniffle. But it is also possible for a virus to land on the Hand, if a Diseased sneezes and nose cleaning. Of the Hand, then a walk on doorknobs and so on to the next Hand.

A friendly shaking of hands in greeting and farewell or a warm hug are beyond the flu season is very popular, but in the case of the symptoms of illness, you should avoid it. Who washes regularly, not only after using the toilet, hands, can reduce the risk of infection. And it’s not just for flu, but for colds.

In order to preserve others from infection, Ill try to keep a distance of at least two meters, recommends the RKI. Used tissues should be disposed of in the Sick self in the trash can. Who is sleeping with the Partner in the bed, is the best, who spends the next few nights on the Couch, in order to reduce the risk of infection. Because a flu can be especially for small children and infants, Pregnant women, the chronically Ill and the elderly, dangerous, Ill stay with you especially at a distance.

BBC documentary “forever fit: the wonders of the plant immune system”