Respiratory Diseases As the days get shorter again and autumn and winter bring down cold, wind and rain, our immune system is under heavy strain. Added to this is dry heating air, which irritates and dehydrates our mucous membranes.
In the winter, many people bustle together in warm, closed rooms, buses, and subways, which increases the risk of infection.
So bacteria and viruses are particularly easy to penetrate our body. When many people gather in warm, closed rooms, buses and subways in winter, the risk of infection is also increased: winter time is therefore also the time of acute respiratory infections. The spectrum ranges from a simple cold over the real flu to acute bronchitis or adult pneumonia.
The most harmless form of respiratory infections is a cold. Incidentally, it is sometimes referred to as a flu infection. Compared to the real flu but it runs harmless. Predominantly, a cold is triggered by viruses that affect the upper respiratory tract. Therefore, treatment with bactericidal antibiotics does not help here either. Usually, the disease begins two to four days after infection by droplet infection and usually lasts at most one week.
Typical signs of real influenza, influenza, are sudden high fever, dry cough, muscle and headache, and fatigue. The flu outbreaks that pass through Germany every winter are caused by influenza viruses. A vaccine can protect against infection. However, you should get vaccinated again every year against the flu, because the viruses are very versatile and the vaccine must be adjusted regularly. The Robert Koch Institute recommends vaccinations especially for pregnant women, elderly people and people with chronic illnesses.
If the pathogen penetrates deeper into the respiratory tract, as a result of a cold or flu, the mucous membranes of the bronchi can also become acutely inflamed. One speaks then of acute bronchitis. In more than 90 percent of cases, viruses are the trigger, rarely bacteria. Since acute bronchitis can also become chronic, it is important to treat this condition properly and adequately.
One of the most serious respiratory infections is pneumonia. The most common causes of the disease are bacteria of the species Streptococcus pneumoniae. But other bacteria, viruses or fungi can lead to inflammation of the lung tissue. The treachery of pneumococcal pneumonia is that it can often lead to very severe symptoms without warning. It is also possible to get vaccinated against pneumococci, as in the case of influenza, people from risk groups are recommended to have a vaccine.
In recent years, the number of whooping cough cases increased again. This is mainly due to the fact that the vaccine against this highly infectious disease gradually decreases and adults would have to refresh him. Pertussis, like a whooping cough in technical language, is called, is a bacterial infection. The disease can be very tedious and life-threatening especially for small children. It begins as a harmless cold with a cold and cough, but changes in the course of the typical bouts of attacks of coughing that occur especially at night.
The bacterial infectious disease that still causes most deaths worldwide is tuberculosis. In 2014, about 9.6 million people worldwide fell ill. In Germany, the rate of newly diagnosed tuberculosis infections is comparatively low, but in 2015 the Robert Koch Institute observed an increase to 5,865 cases compared to 4,533 cases in the previous year. Above all, people whose immune system is weakened are at risk. Contagion occurs through close contact with patients, usually by droplet infection via the lungs. In most cases, the body succeeds in successfully controlling the bacteria or isolating them. These inflammatory sites (tubercles), which are enclosed by the immune system, can be visualized on the x-ray and also give their name to the disease. An infection can now be treated well with a combination of antibiotics, however, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis pathogens have been a growing problem in recent years.
Inflammation in the lungs naturally also plays a central role in chronic lung diseases such as asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).