How to outwit the flu

How to outwit the flu

The annual flu epidemic belongs to winter like Christmas, shorter days and fog. And once you catch the flu, it's not so easy to get rid. How to protect yourself and those around you.

In theory, the flu is a relatively harmless viral disease of the respiratory tract. It crops up in waves between December and March, and those affected usually recover within a few days. However, the risk of infection is high. Therefore, the flu can also have major impact on the economy. And for certain individuals the disease can even become dangerous.

Danger for high-risk groups

If complications arise, the flu can be hazardous for high-risk groups such as the elderly, pregnant women, toddlers or people with autoimmune diseases, for example, if the lungs, brain or heart muscle are affected. This is why it is all the more important to protect yourself against infection for the sake of your own health and out of consideration for others.

How the viruses are transmitted

If you want to protect yourself, you need to know how the disease is transmitted: on the one hand, the viruses spread from person to person via tiny droplets of airborne moisture caused by coughing, sneezing or talking which are inhaled by others. Or the viruses are spread by touch. This is also called smear infection. This happens, for example, when people shake hands. In addition, the viruses settle on smooth surfaces such as door handles or banisters, where they can survive for up to two days. So, the pathogens can lurk almost anywhere during the flu months. Nevertheless, you can protect yourself - if you follow the tips below:

How to protect yourself against infection.

Hygiene: Now especially important

Wash your hands with soap several times a day or disinfect them. Because viruses can be transmitted by hugging, shaking hands, when opening the door or, for instance, while steadying yourself in the tram. You can also get infected via shared telephones or computer keyboards.

A healthy diet offers protection

Drink at least two liters of water or unsweetened tea a day. Make sure you eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and ensure you get enough vitamins B, C, D and zinc. For example, treat yourself to a bowl of chicken soup, a great source of zinc. For vegans: Whole-meal bread, pumpkin seeds and oatmeal also contain lots of zinc.

Stay in shape - stay healthy

Regular exercise keeps the cardiovascular system fit and strengthens the body's defenses. Endurance sports help you increase the number of different immune cells. Even a walk in the fresh air is good for you and improves your mood.

Healthy climate protects the body

Keep the room air humid. Because dry air removes moisture from the airways and makes it easier for the pathogens to penetrate through the nose or mouth. For this reason, a moisturizing nasal spray helps keeping the body's natural defense barrier stable.

The flu or just a cold? These are the typical differences

Flu Cold
Course Occurs suddenly (hot, feverish, lack of energy, shivering), rapid deterioration Slow onset of illness, slow deterioration
Fever High fever, shivering and sweating Increased temperature / slight fever
Muscle and joint pain Strong Minor to none
Headache Strong Minor
Tiredness and fatigue Severe fatigue, prolonged feeling of exhaustion Tiredness
Cough Dry cough, often painful First a dry cough, then a mucous cough
Head cold Rarely Head cold, sneezing, blocked or runny nose
Sore throat Strong Slight to strong

But if you do come down with the flu

Show some consideration

Make sure you stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you experience flu symptoms. If you feel well enough, perhaps you can do the most important things from home. However, that won't exactly speed your recovery.

Protect your environment

Cough into your elbow and use paper tissues, which you should then dispose of immediately. Reduce the risk of infection within the family by sleeping in a separate room if possible. By regularly airing rooms, you can at least reduce the virus concentration in the air.

How to recover faster

Drink as much as possible and give your body the rest it now needs. Avoid alcohol and nicotine and douche your nose with a saline solution. Give your respiratory tract a soothing inhalation with water vapor. 

What can managers do?

  1. Be a role model

    Clearly communicate that snuffling and constantly coughing employees do not belong in the office and make sure you stay at home yourself if you get ill. Those who go to work when under the weather will infect their colleagues, risk making mistakes and harm their health. 
  2. Understanding for young parents

    React sympathetically if young parents need to stay home because of sick children. Employees will thank you with great loyalty - and there is less risk of them getting sick from stress and exhaustion.
  3. Organize a deputy

    Make sure that every employee has a clearly defined deputy. This prevents chaos in case someone unexpectedly is off sick. Furthermore, a reliable deputy is the best medicine for the patient, as they can get some rest and recover at home without having to worry.
  4. Maintain communication

    Should an employee actually fall ill more often than average, ask for a meeting to clear things up. Perhaps their defenses have been weakened by a stressful phase in their life - or there is another reason for their absences and they would be grateful for your support.
  5. Encourage hygiene

    Minimal effort – maximum impact: Set up hand sanitizer at the entrance and in the toilets. This way you can reduce the risk of infection between employees.

Legal disclaimer


This article deals with a health topic and should be viewed as general health information. It does not serve self-diagnosis and does not replace the professional judgment of a doctor. If you experience any health problems, please consult a doctor or seek advice from a pharmacy.