Flu wave - every year again

"The flu is coming" - it sounds almost like a battle cry, which goes through the media every autumn. Rightly, because with the flu and the complications caused by her is not joking. 7.7 million visits to doctors, 3.4 million sick leave letters and more than 32,000 influenza-related hospitalizations triggered influenza in the last flu season 2012/2013 alone.

Flu wave - every year again

"The flu is coming" - it sounds almost like a battle cry, which goes through the media every autumn. Rightly, because with the flu and the complications caused by her is not joking.

7.7 million visits to doctors, 3.4 million sick leave letters and more than 32,000 influenza-related hospitalizations triggered influenza in the last flu season 2012/2013 alone. Thus, the last year compared to previous years, but also considered a particularly strong flu year. And what is coming up this time?

Flu season unpredictable

Not only the media keep an eye on the flu - especially the influenza experts have rolled out a close-knit observation network. Usually, the flu spreads undulating. It usually starts in the southwest of Europe, ie in Spain and Portugal and then continues on its way through Central Europe - including Germany - to Eastern Europe.

However, this year the flu viruses are not yet particularly active: The weekly report of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reports for all German states so far no increased incidence of respiratory diseases. The figures for this year's KW 46 are at the same low level as in the comparable period last year and are still under "background activity". But that can change quickly. For the course of the flu season, there are at best rough models that are related to the weather - influenza viruses love it cool and dry. It can not be predicted how the wave will actually go. The various influenza viruses keep getting surprises in store.

There is a risk of confusion. How do you know the difference and why it matters.

Viruses are always ahead of the researchers

By changing its genetic information (mutation), the virus changes every year certain structures on its surface, the so-called antigens. But these are the antigens the vaccines target - and the human immune system responds. That's why every year, researchers around the world watch with gusto in the eyes as to how the viruses are changing and how well the current vaccine counteracts them.

The result is a forecast of the expected subtypes - the basis for vaccine development in the coming year. It is a constant arms race of researchers and viruses, in which the pathogens always have a small lead. The one vaccine that helps against all existing and future influenza virus types and thus to break the seasonal occurrence of the disease, there is not yet. However, the researchers are always trying to find new approaches that will make a "universal vaccine" possible.

Vaccinate from October

After all, the researchers in the northern hemisphere are usually the summer to provide the appropriate vaccine levels for the autumn flu epidemic. Because only in the cold season, the number of cases rise in leaps and bounds. Particularly vulnerable groups such as seniors, pregnant women or people with certain general conditions are recommended to be vaccinated from October for the current flu season.

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    Immune protection from the pantry

    Viruses, bacteria, fungi - our defense has a lot to do to defend against intruders. Who wants to support his body police, but does not have to go to the pharmacy and buy expensive tablets. Nature gives us a lot of money, cheap and easy - the top five tips from the pantry!

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    Olive oil inhibits inflammation

    Olive oil is rich in vitamin E. Not only does this have anti-inflammatory effects, it also activates T cells. It also ensures that the immune cells mature properly. And it brings extra protection: As an antioxidant, it eliminates the so-called free radicals, which damage the immune cells. Incidentally, other vegetable oils are also good vitamin E suppliers as well as almonds and hazelnuts.

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    Helpful coldsuds

    Tingling in the nose, burning in the eyes and scratching the throat - pretty sure signs that an infection is approaching. A helpful remedy: Cut a raw onion into thin slices, place the pieces in a bowl or cup and pour a quarter liter of lukewarm water over it. Leave the mixture for one night. Then strain and drink from the collected broth several times a day - so you can eliminate all viruses!

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    Coconuts multiply defense cells

    Selenium is a trace element that not only reduces the proliferation of viruses in the body, but also helps in the production of immune cells. An additional advantage: a selenium level of 150 micrograms in the blood is said to protect against cancer. A very good source of selenium are coconuts. But also in fish, liver, seafood, milk and vegetables, the trace element is included.

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    Spinach for antibody production

    Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin of the B group. It is involved in many metabolic processes. This also benefits the immune system: it needs folic acid to build antibodies.Only about twenty percent of the German population absorbs enough of their daily food. It is worthwhile to use green vegetables such as spinach or broccoli more often. Legumes, wheat germ, wholegrain cereals, yeast, egg yolk and citrus fruits and juices also contain a lot of folic acid.

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    Eggs instead of sun?

    Phagocytes need vitamin D to work properly, otherwise viruses and bacteria can easily play. If you are very infectious, you should often eat a scrambled egg for breakfast. Also fish and milk are rich in vitamin D. Good to know: The body is the lion's share of the vitamin itself. However, he needs sufficient sun to do so. The motto is: get out in the fresh air, at least 30 minutes per day!

Anybody can make a flu report

Infected or not? Not all sufferers immediately feel that they have caught the flu or simply introduce themselves with "fever and cough" at their family doctor. He then reports a confirmed flu to the Robert Koch Institute.

In order to get an even faster picture of flu dynamics in the future, the RKI 2011 launched the "FluWeb". Everyone who wants to join can register on the website and is then asked about their health once a week. If acute respiratory diseases are also reported, this is included in the assessment of the current flu situation. Interesting are also models like Google uses them - the company assumes that people who are ill google for "flu" or "cold" especially often. On the basis of the evaluation of the search terms, the search engine then creates its very own flu atlas, which can in some cases even give faster flu warnings than the official agencies can do. Because there, the numbers only come together when the disease is clinically confirmed. Google, however, is also detected if the first cautious cough already announces the approach of a possible flu.


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