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Influenza: Respirators can protect against flu infections
In the past few weeks, the flu has moved somewhat into the background due to the corona virus. In this country, influenza is much more dangerous than the new virus from China. To protect yourself from infection, simple hygiene rules should be followed. Protection is also provided by respiratory masks.
Since mid-January, more and more people in Germany have contracted the flu. According to a message from the Barmer Krankenkasse, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has already registered almost 21,000 people with influenza this season, including 7,000 people affected in the fourth week of January alone. You can protect yourself from infection with certain hygiene rules and wearing respiratory masks, among other things.
Flu kills people every year
“In view of the corona virus, the flu has moved somewhat into the background. It should not be forgotten that influenza in Germany kills people every year, ”says Dr. Ursula Marschall, chief medical officer at Barmer.
"People who are in daily contact with many people, the elderly, the chronically ill and pregnant women should now make up for the vaccination," said the expert.
It takes about ten to 14 days for the protection to be fully built up in the body after vaccination. The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommends October and November for the flu shot.
But even late vaccination remains the most effective protection against influenza, according to Marshal. After all, a flu wave can drag into April or even May.
Observe simple hygiene rules
But even an influenza vaccination does not offer 100 percent protection. For example, this could be reduced in the chronically ill and the elderly because their immune systems no longer work as well.
In addition, contagion is possible shortly after vaccination with flu viruses if sufficient vaccination protection has not yet been established.
Therefore, some hygiene rules should also be observed. “Thorough and regular hand washing is essential to minimize the risk of influenza. If there is no sink nearby, an alcoholic hand disinfectant can help, ”explains Marschall.
"In the case of flu waves, you should also avoid shaking hands and keep away from people who cough or sneeze," advises the doctor.
It is helpful to avoid close contact with the sick as much as possible in the home. In addition, one should rarely touch the mucous membranes of the eyes, mouth and nose with the hands during influenza, because this way the viruses could get into the body more easily.
Face masks offer protection
And wearing a respirator can also protect you from infection with influenza A and B viruses. These two types are responsible for most seasonal influenza outbreaks.
According to a recent article by the renowned Mayo Clinic (USA), some studies have shown that the use of a surgical face mask can prevent the spread of influenza.
This protection is even more effective if hand disinfectants based on alcohol are used in addition to the face masks.
People living in shared accommodation - such as student dormitories or nursing homes - are at higher risk of influenza because they have contact with potentially infected people.
Influenza A and B viruses drift through the air in droplets when someone coughs, sneezes or speaks with the infection. The droplets can be inhaled directly or from an object - such as As a phone or a computer keyboard - recorded and then transferred to the eyes, nose or mouth.
Surgical masks can help block influenza germs in the air, and they can also prevent the spread of germs from your hands to your mouth or nose.
"However, the best way to prevent influenza is to have an annual flu shot," the Mayo Clinic concludes. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Barmer: Flu season has begun - high time for vaccination, (access: 05.02.2020), Barmer
- Mayo Clinic: Wearing a flu mask for influenza, (access: 05.02.2020), Mayo Clinic