Here we are suffering under a heat wave with degrees above 30 for weeks and suddenly we are down with a flu. How can this happen and what exactly is a summer flu compared to the usual “winter flu”?
The summer flu develops after a classic cold, at the moment typically because our hot, sweaty body is exposed to cold air (for example in air conditioning), our protective mucous membranes are dried out and thus are not circulated as well. It’s the frequent change from warm to cold that enhances the summer flu, which typically starts with a sore throat. Not drinking sufficient fluids on those hot days also weakens the immune system. The result is a weakening of our immune system and viruses can enter our body more easily and make us sick. This is similar to the winter flu with the difference that the winter flu is much more often cause by influenza viruses, making us a a lot sicker. Both are air-borne and transmitted through inappropriate nose and hand hygiene.
Signs of the summer flu are fever, sore throat, fatigue, ear ache, head and joint aches, so the same ones as for the winter flu but symptoms typically last only for a few days to maximum a week. During that time the person is infectious and can transmit the summer flu to others.
To treat the summer flu you treat the symptoms: resting, lots of fluids, and if needed antipyretic medication. The difference between the summer and the winter flu is that the summer temperatures tempt us to continue to be active and even continue to work, which can lead to a worsening of symptoms. A doctor’s visit is not usually needed unless symptoms continue after a few days or even get worse. Elderly people and those with a compromised immune system need to be more careful. While usually a summer flu is harmless, you should not ignore it.
There are a few herbs that support recovery from a summer flu: thyme and sage prepared as teas to drink or to gargle are anti-inflammatory and analgesic, so work well against the discomfort of the sore throat. Essential eucalyptus oil opens up the airways. Elderflower or thyme tea help to reduce the fever during a summer flu.
Posted on July 16, 2018 by Luitgard Holzleg
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