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Influenza viruses are highly contagious - but can be avoided
The flu is rampant in all parts of Germany and has been pushing medical practices and hospitals to the limit for weeks. There is no improvement in sight yet. According to various media reports, the peak has not yet been reached. It is all the more important to protect yourself well against the influenza viruses so that you are not one of those affected.
To make the flu wave worse, there are numerous colds. But how do you know if you have a cold or flu? Dr. Wolfgang Reuter, a health expert from the German Health Insurance (DKV), explains in a consumer information how you can tell whether you have a cold or the real flu.
This is how you can recognize a real flu
With real flu (influenza), the symptoms appear suddenly and very intensely. Typical symptoms of real flu are fever over 38 degrees (often even over 40 degrees), sweating and chills, as well as severe fatigue and exhaustion. In addition, sore throat and ear pain as well as painful cough can occur. The whole body is involved in a real flu, including headache, sensitivity to light and noise and a pronounced feeling of weakness. If you have a real flu, you should always consult a doctor.
The difference to the common cold is often not clear
Colds are often summarized under the term "flu infection". The symptoms are similar to those of influenza, but mostly not as intense. The upper respiratory tract is often affected and symptoms such as fever, runny nose, cough, hoarseness and sore throat appear. Sometimes there is also diarrhea or constipation, as well as nausea and vomiting. In most cases, the course is free of complications and the symptoms subside after a week. Home remedies for flu can help for self-treatment.
The best protection against flu: avoid infection
Influenza viruses can spread quickly via droplet infection. The viruses have good cards, especially in gatherings of people and community facilities: For example, in schools, hospitals, public transport, kindergartens, dormitories, open-plan offices and the like. Of course, not all of these places can be avoided, but a safety distance of around 2 meters from ailing people can already contribute to protection.
Correct hand washing
Regular and correct hand washing with soap and at least 30 seconds is one of the best protection methods. Wash hands after shaking hands, using public transport, before and after eating, and after using the toilet. Men should feel addressed here in particular, because most men do not wash their hands properly after using the toilet, as it turned out in a recent observational study.
Experts advise against flu vaccinations. However, the vaccinated person should know that vaccination does not offer 100% protection. According to current RKI reports, this year's standard vaccine only offers around fifty percent protection. In particular, people over the age of 60 as well as people with chronic illnesses can benefit from vaccination, as this group of people often develops severe illnesses, in the worst case even fatalities.
Keep fingers away from the head
The nasal mucous membranes, eyes and mouth are the entry gates of the viruses into the body. The viruses often get into the face by rubbing or scratching the face with your hand after touching a contaminated doorknob or similar. So stay away from your face.
Reduce physical contact
It is best to reduce physical contact with others, especially if the other person is already showing signs of cold. In sick partners or children, one should not kiss on the mouth or near the mucous membranes. Likewise, drinking from the same cup or bottle and eating the same cutlery should be avoided.
Flu protection at work
The workplace should be well ventilated several times a day. Wipe the desk, keyboard and mouse at least once a day. If you have the opportunity to work from home in the home office, you should make use of it. Used handkerchiefs should always be disposed of immediately and not carried around as a potential source of viruses. Also, do not cough or sneeze in your hand, but use a handkerchief. (vb)