Flu season is just around the corner. Although many people dismiss the flu as a harmless cold, it is a serious illness that can lead to hospitalization and, in the worst cases, premature death, warns Dr. Kristin Englund from the Cleveland Clinic (USA).
The flu is not a common cold, but a serious infectious disease that puts strain on the body and can lead to numerous complications, says Dr. Englund. Although most sufferers recover from the illness within three to seven days, the flu can also have life-threatening consequences.
Threatening health complications
Flu and colds do have common symptoms, such as cough and fever, but these are often more severe and last longer with the flu, says Dr. Englund. In addition, even completely healthy people could develop serious complications from the flu, and the risk increases if they have existing health problems.
The doctor calls pneumonia the most common complication of influenza illnesses. The risk of secondary bacterial pneumonia also increases.
Heart attacks and strokes
In addition, there is a risk of developing a heart attack, stroke or other heart problems as a result of the flu, such as inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis), the expert adds.
People who suffer from asthma, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease or kidney and lung disease are at increased risk of serious complications from the flu.
Age also has an influence on the risk of complications associated with the flu. Children under the age of five and people aged 65 and over are particularly at risk. Likewise, according to Dr. Englund increases the risk of complications in women during pregnancy.
How to protect yourself
Wearing a mask can help protect against flu, reports the expert. The flu is spread through droplets released by infected people when they cough, sneeze or talk.
In addition, you should always practice good hand hygiene. Washing your hands thoroughly can prevent the virus from getting into your mouth or nose from a surface.
- Home remedies for the flu – that can work!
- Cold and flu: what works and what doesn’t
- Flu: Natural substances to combat influenza viruses
You should also avoid contact with sick people. It could also help to avoid crowds during the peak of the flu season. If you suspect you have the flu, you should stay at home, the doctor advises.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle in general can also reduce the risk of infection. To do this, you should eat a healthy diet and get enough exercise. This strengthens the immune system and protects the body from infections. (as)