Extremely cold weather: Are there more colds now?
In many areas of Germany there is currently bitter cold. Those who are outside despite the low temperatures run the risk of catching an infection, because cold is said to increase the risk of colds. But is that really true?
Do you catch cold faster in the cold?
The current winter storm low causes freezing cold in many areas of Germany. If you are outside anyway, you should wrap yourself up as warmly as possible, put on a hat and never go out with wet hair, because popularly you get a cold otherwise. As a result, you are then to blame for your dripping nose, cough and fever. But is that really true?
Temperatures are not irrelevant
Given the low temperatures, there is reason to suspect that there may be more colds and flu cases. However, this conclusion is not quite as simple as experts explain in a message from the dpa news agency.
Cold weather alone does not necessarily make you ill - however, the temperatures are not irrelevant because viruses are easier to play in cold weather.
For example, flu viruses survived longer in the outside environment, the drier and colder it is, explained Silke Buda from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).
The current flu season started early
The flu wave has started rolling this season regardless of the current cold. According to the information, the new flu phase started shortly before Christmas 2016 and thus a few weeks earlier than in the past two seasons.
According to data from the Working Group on Influenza at the RKI, laboratory tests have confirmed that around 2,600 people have flu from the beginning of the flu wave to the beginning of January.
However, not all illnesses are reported. "There is already a clear virus circulation," said Buda. So far, it is said that older people in particular are affected by serious illnesses.
According to the agency report, several outbreaks were reported in hospitals in different federal states - and nine deaths, eight of them in people aged 60 and over.
"It also reminds us of the 2014/15 season," says Buda. According to estimates by the RKI, around 20,000 people died of flu at the time. Buda does not want to overestimate the current situation: “But we are already keeping an eye on it. A worried one. "
One focus of the action is Bavaria. The Minister of Health of the Free State, Melanie Huml (CSU) has pointed out that vaccination still makes sense. "Flu is not a harmless cold," warns the politician, who is a doctor herself.
But whether a flu vaccination makes sense, everyone has to decide for themselves. The Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO) advises seniors from the age of 60, pregnant women, the chronically ill, residents of old people's homes and nursing homes, and medical personnel to be vaccinated against flu. Ultimately, the pros and cons of flu vaccination must be weighed up against each other.
Airways more susceptible to cold air
As the president of the German Society for General Medicine and Family Medicine, Erika Baum, explained in the dpa report, the upper airways are demonstrably more susceptible to cold air.
In addition, children in particular could cool down quite quickly because their hair is relatively large and thin. Baum also pointed out that cold or wet and cold feet have been shown to cause cystitis.
A lot of exercise and warm foot baths can help against ice feet.
Various factors play a role
According to the RKI expert Buda, there are ultimately many seasonal factors that influence the spread of respiratory diseases such as flu and colds: "Temperature, weather and humidity play a role, but not the decisive factor."
For example, vaccination protection in the population, the novelty of a virus variant and also the immune system of the individual would have an impact.
Furthermore, most people tend to stay in closed, heated rooms in winter, which can dry out the mucous membranes. In places where there are many people, infections are more likely to occur.
Protect against infections
Therefore, healthy people should keep away from sick people and infected people should not distribute the viruses. It is important for both groups to wash their hands frequently. In addition, it makes sense to strengthen the immune system to prevent diseases such as influenza.
A flu infection, the "simple" cold can be caught several times a year. The symptoms start slowly and subside after a few days. This is a known difference between cold and flu. The latter occurs suddenly.
For self-treatment for flu and colds, it is important, among other things, to drink a lot and to rest. There are also many home remedies that help against colds. (ad)