Illnesses in the Fall and winter - colds, flu & Co.
The number of illnesses will increase as it gets colder outside. This is common knowledge. But why is this the case and what can you do about it?
Sniffling, coughing and fevers will start up again as the days get shorter and colder. According to a report by Spiegel Online, the time around the end of January and the beginning of February is predominantly the peak season for respiratory diseases that are typical of winter time (https://www.spiegel.de/gesundheit/diagnose/infektionskrankheiten-welche-erreger-uns-uebers-jahr-plagen-a-1057715.html).
Nevertheless, it isn’t just respiratory diseases and flu that are much more common in winter. Why, however, is there such a significant increase in illnesses especially in the cold season and what can be done about it?
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Many illnesses undergo seasonal fluctuations
Even a child knows that respiratory infections and similar diseases are easily spread in winter. But, on the other hand, the fact that other illnesses such as diarrheal diseases also occur significantly more often in winter, is not obvious – at least not at first glance. But the question of how this actually comes about is far more intriguing. The answer does not seem to be altogether clear. Previously, the hypothesis presented by many scientists was simply that the conditions for certain pathogens would just be better in the wet, cold winter air.
While this may play a role, researchers have come across another possible answer in a groundbreaking study (https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms8000): According to the researchers, our entire immune system is subject to seasonal fluctuations.
These would be expressed, inter alia, in a varying gene expression. According to the scientists, the seasonal fluctuations of other diseases such as type 1 diabetes or various cardiovascular diseases could also be explained by this, at least in part.
What can be done about colds and other illnesses in winter?
No matter what the exact reason is for why we are more likely to be ill in winter, the next question is: What can we do to prevent diseases and infections in winter? Christian Rüger, naturopath at Naturheilzentrum Bottrop (NABO), has some tips for this: "Unfortunately there is no panacea or patent remedy for illnesses in winter. However, there are various ways in which you can prevent illness as best you can by strengthening your own immune system."
One possible way of doing something good for your immune system and the rest of your body? Sport! It has been confirmed that this can have a positive effect on our resistance to infections – not least by a study by the University of Turin, entitled "Sport, immune system and respiratory infections" (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12674037). "Sport, as well as physical activity in general, can have a positive effect on our health and well-being," says Rüger from Bottrop’s naturopathic practice.
Even with a balanced diet, pathogens can make life difficult: "Only when our bodies are sufficiently supplied with all the nutrients, can they also work properly and protect us from infections."
However, even the best preventive measures cannot always help. If we are already ill, rest and relaxation help above all else, according to Rüger: "Our bodies can fend off many pathogens by themselves. But that takes a lot of energy. Therefore, it is best to take care of ourselves during an illness so as not to burden the body even further."
Get informed about illnesses in winter at Naturheilzentrum Bottrop
At Naturheilzentrum Bottrop, patients and interested parties can both obtain comprehensive information about the immune system and possible naturopathic measures against illnesses in winter. Incidentally, another consequence of shorter days is the emergence of so-called ‘Fall blues’. The latest post on the Naturheilzentrum Bottrop Tumblr blog is therefore on the topic of winter depression.
In addition, there is a very special contribution to the fight against illnesses in winter on the NABO YouTube channel, because as everyone knows: laughter is healthy! The outtake video by the two naturopaths, Christian Rüger and Farid Zitoun is, in any case, not short on laughs.