Coughing, sneezing and sore throat – and in the middle of summer! All you need to know about the summer flu. And how best to treat it and protect yourself.
Your nose is runny, and your head hurts. And you start coughing more and more. Your plans to spend the warm summer day outside in nature will have to be postponed. You feel fluish and all you want to do is go to bed.
How can that be? Having a cough and a cold during the warm time of the year doesn’t seem right. But even in summertime, viruses are around that can trigger a flu-like infection. And our immune system can also be stressed in summer, not just in winter. Fortunately, summer flu is not a very serious illness – despite the fact that “flu” is part of the name.
The summer flu usually expresses as a cold, i.e. a flu-like infection. It can be caused by many types of viruses. Enteroviruses are often involved. These viruses multiply in the intestine and are excreted with the stool. Unlike most colds and influenza, enteroviruses are therefore often transmitted by smear infections, such as a handshake.
So, actually, the term “summer flu” is not accurate – sniffles and colds are not really flu. Actual influenza occurs during the winter and is triggered by influenza viruses. Laymen often use the two terms as equivalents. From a medical point of view, however, they are two different conditions.
The difference between a cold and the flu is also seen in how the symptoms present and the severity of the disease. A cold develops over several days. After one week you usually feel healthy again. With the flu, the symptoms come on quite suddenly. Patients may be bedridden for up to ten days and it may take them weeks to fully recover.
Although the summer cold viruses have nothing to do with the typical flu, the symptoms overlap. Typical symptoms of summer flu are:
The acute phase of a summer flu lasts about three days. If major symptoms persist beyond this, a doctor should be consulted. Medical attention should also be sought if you get a high fever and your temperature rises above 39 degrees. It takes about a week to completely recover from the cold.
What is the best way to relieve summer flu symptoms? Most important: plenty of rest is required. As tempting as the beautiful weather and the warm summer evenings may be, you should take it easy and get plenty of rest for about one week to regain your strength. Otherwise, you are likely to just drag out the illness.
The household remedies that typically help against colds, sore throats and coughs are also effective against the summer flu.
When you sneeze or cough, viruses are spread through the air. The disease can then be transmitted via droplet infection. In the first two to three days, you are particularly contagious for others. However, the risk of infection can last up to a week. You should therefore avoid contact with others. However, colds can even be transmitted before the illness breaks out in the infected person – since the germs have already become established in the infected person, the risk of transmission is substantially greater before the person becomes symptomatic.
The flu vaccine is specific for the winter influenza virus. There is no vaccination against viral infections during the summer. That makes it all the more important to protect yourself from an infection.
Cold weather is not a prerequisite for catching a cold. It’s enough if your immune system is weakened. Then germs have an advantage.