Why we keep catching cold

Autumn and winter are times of cold and cough. The immune system keeps many pathogens away from us. But it fails with colds – again and again. There are three reasons for this.

With measles, the matter is clear: we get it once in a lifetime, after that we are immune from it. But coughs and runny nose torment us again and again – with nice regularity at least once a year. Researchers estimate that people will experience around 200 to 300 colds in their lifetime. Why don’t we become immune to these pathogens? Why is our body’s defense system so helpless?

There are three reasons for this: First, there are many different cold pathogens . Second, the viruses are constantly mutating . And thirdly, many germs trick our immune system.

The immune system has to learn anew every time

Over 200 different types of viruses can cause coughs, runny nose and hoarseness . The culprits are built differently, but cause similar symptoms. As soon as our immune system has defended itself against one of the pathogens and fought it, the next one comes along: Because it is new to the immune system, it cannot act against it with proven means. Instead, it takes time for the body’s defenses to deal with the new intruder. Usually this is three to seven days.

Since there are so many different cold pathogens, the production of an all-round vaccine is difficult: it should be able to protect against all germs at once. In the case of the real flu, however, things are easier: new vaccines are developed against influenza every year . Because the number of flu pathogens rampant at the moment is manageable, between three and six per year.

Viruses like to dress in new clothes

Even if our immune system has already taken precautionary measures against a certain cold virus, this only protects us to a limited extent against further infection with the same pathogen. Because all viruses are changeable . They always change a little bit. A tiny mutation is enough to make the shell of a virus look a little different. Such a change of clothes leaves proven fighters of the immune system in vain. Because the body’s defense system identifies intruders based on their external shape. If the pathogen changes its appearance, the immune system cannot recognize any old acquaintances in it.

Not only cold viruses, but also flu germs are constantly changing. But their mutations are carefully monitored by virologists from the World Health Organization (WHO). Laboratories around the world are constantly analyzing what influenza germs currently look like. In this way, suitable vaccines can be produced every year.

Cold germs trick the body’s defenses

Cold viruses are tricksters. Rhinoviruses, for example, deliberately subvert the body’s defenses. They manipulate the phagocytes of the immune system on a molecular level. With many intermediate steps, this means that the body’s defenses cannot remember what the outer shell of the rhinoviruses looks like. The result: the next time we come into contact with the rhinitis, our immune system does not recognize the culprit as old acquaintances – because it is clueless, it cannot switch them off immediately. That is why we are always sick for several days.

Home remedies provide help against colds and coughs . If you have a bad stomach ache or have a fever, you should drink a lot – preferably hot tea. Warm wraps and inhalations have also proven their worth. The natural pharmacy also has a lot to offer. Medicines for fever are not always useful, but can help if the temperature rises above 39 degrees Celsius and the fever lasts for more than three days. You shouldn’t use nasal sprays for too long as the body gets used to them. A cold often brings with it an uncomfortable cough, against the expectorant and cough suppressant can be taken.

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Your head is pounding and pounding? These 5 simple strategies will make tension headaches go away quickly, without any pills

What helps quickly against headaches?

For those who have a headache, coping with everyday life quickly becomes torture. The 5 most effective strategies to get rid of tension headaches quickly without pills are explained here by the Lüneburg pain expert Dr. Peter Tamme.

1. Eye mindfulness exercise against headaches

For this very effective mindfulness exercise against tension headaches, find a quiet place where you can concentrate fully on yourself. “Without moving your head, you move your eyes very slowly and very consciously, first to the left and then to the right, counting aloud at the right turning point,” explains pain expert Tamme, “Repeat the exercises 5 times. Then leave the upper eyelids a lot Carefully drop down on the lower eyelids and breathe out slowly and emphatically. Give yourself the inner command: ‘The eyes close by themselves, all by themselves.’ Make yourself aware of how good your resting eyes feel now. ” Then open your eyes again and repeat the exercise, but now in the axis of movement from top to bottom: again 5 times

2. Mint oil and cooling relieve pain blocks

“A washcloth that has been pulled through cold water and then gently wrung out is sufficient for this strategy,” says Tamme. “Place it folded on your forehead and close your eyes. Or you can get an essential oil concentrate from the pharmacy Medicinal peppermint (for example Euminz) and apply it gently to the neck, forehead and temples. Gently massage both temples for 3 x 30 seconds with circular movements. ” Peppermint oil improves blood circulation, has a relaxing effect and activates the body’s own defense against pain.

3. Power naps help against throbbing headaches

Lie on a couch or in bed for 15 minutes, shielded from noise and light. “When you are lying down, imagine how the body lifts itself up very slowly from the surface,” says Tamme, “Imagine this feeling several times in a row and feel how the pain slowly subsides.”

4. Drinks containing caffeine help relieve pain

Caffeine reaches the brain via the blood, where it causes the blood vessels to widen, which not only alleviates headaches, but can even go away completely. “Drink a large glass of cola or a cup of caffeinated coffee slowly, very consciously and without hurrying,” advises the expert.

5. Fresh air relieves tension headaches

It is not uncommon for tension in the neck and back area to trigger tension headaches. A relaxed walk in the fresh air can work wonders. Tamme advises: “Do not jog, do not run, no entertainment, no smartphone, just run and ‘be’, then 10 minutes are often enough.”

This is how you can prevent headaches in the long term

  • Not too many tablets:  Every now and then, fighting the pain with one tablet makes sense. However, those who constantly lower the pain threshold in this way increase the sensitivity to pain in the long term.
  • Easy on the eyes:  Those who watch TV for hours or work on the computer without a break will overload their eyes. These activities can trigger headaches just like the wrong glasses.
  • Sleep properly:  The prone position or a curved sleeping position can lead to tension in the neck and thus to headaches. Ideal: sleep stretched out on your back. Too much or too little sleep can also cause problems.
  • Going into the shade: the  sun dries out the body and leads to headaches. So avoid the worst heat between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and always wear a hat.
  • Food sensitivity: Food  can also be a trigger for headaches. Certain types of cheese, chocolate, fatty foods, Chinese foods (flavor enhancers), citrus fruits, coffee, alcohol and sometimes tomatoes and onions are suspected.

“Do not touch your face with your hand”: this is how you can get through the winter healthy – a doctor offers tips

Autumn and winter are cold season. The good news: many infections can be prevented. A doctor reveals how you can stay healthy – and what you can save yourself.

Professor Scherer , do you automatically get sick on trains and buses in winter because someone is constantly sniffing or coughing around you?

Of course, there is then a higher risk. Public transport plays a special role in viral infections . But you should also be careful with any other gathering of people that you cannot avoid. For protection, hand hygiene is particularly important.

So: wash thoroughly when you get home?

Exactly, but you have to do it right, most of them are not aware of that: First hold your hands under running water, then lather all around and rub in under gentle pressure for at least 20 to 30 seconds. Rinse and dry carefully with a towel that others do not use. Disinfecting is of course also useful.

But I can’t rely on everyone sticking to such rules. And despite all the hygiene, your nose sometimes races on the go. So what?

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Above all, you should not distribute the pathogens and therefore not touch your face with your hand when you are out and about. This is because viruses can get onto your hand and from there to the next handle on the bus. Conversely, it is also important not to lead pathogens that may already be in the hand to your own airways.

Wouldn’t that be the reason why a flu shot would make sense?

Yes, for certain groups, for example for everyone over the age of 60, for people with chronic diseases such as asthma and also for pregnant women from the second third. But influenza viruses, which can cause “real”  flu , are not the only problem. There is no vaccination against the many rhinoviruses that cause colds, for example. Ultimately, only the above-mentioned hygiene measures can help prevent this.

Can we at least do something to make our immune system strong for the winter?

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Naturally. It helps our immune system in all seasons if we keep fit, eat healthily and exercise enough. It doesn’t have to be competitive sport, winter walks and regular fresh air can bring a lot.

Inside, dry heating air causes problems for many.

Exactly. That is why it is important to ventilate. Sufficient sleep and stress avoidance complete the prevention program.

Flu or cold? These symptoms will tell you

One creeps up slowly, the other comes suddenly. The cold is often mild, the flu is usually severe. The two diseases can be clearly distinguished from each other.

“I have the flu,” many say when they have symptoms such as coughing , sore throat or a stuffy nose in winter  . But most of them only have one cold . It can be quite uncomfortable. However, it differs significantly from the real flu , influenza . What both infectious diseases have in common is that they are triggered by viruses, albeit by different types of viruses. Many people get colds up to four times a year; they usually pass by themselves without leaving any traces. The flu, on the other hand, is a very serious and – if complications – potentially fatal illness.

Cold symptoms: A cold comes slowly, goes quickly

Itchy throat,  sore throat  or hoarseness – these are usually the classic cold symptoms. A cold is often referred to as a flu-like infection or rhinitis. A stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, coughing or headache can occur within a few days. Often there is also a fever and slight unspecific pain. The mucous membrane of the throat can also be reddened and inflamed when you have a cold (pharyngitis). The peak is usually reached two to three days after the outbreak of the infection. And after a week, sometimes after two or three weeks, the worst is over. This is the normal course of a cold in people who do not have any other illnesses.

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Symptoms of the flu: Comes quickly, stays long

The symptoms of  influenza, on the other hand, come suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere. From now on, an extreme feeling of illness sets in with a fever that feels like chills, with exhaustion and aching limbs. Influenza affects not only the airways, but the entire body. The fever rises very quickly.

Symptoms of real viral flu include:

  • high fever: 38 to 40 degrees Celsius
  • Muscle and body aches and pains throughout the body
  • Headache and feeling very sick
  • dry cough with no phlegm and a stuffy or runny nose
  • Loss of appetite and severe fatigue

After a common cold, you are usually fit again quickly. You may feel badly impaired for a long time after the flu. For weeks, sometimes months, you can still feel very exhausted, dull and listless. Physical activity accompanied by heavy sweats is very exhausting for you.

By the way: There is a vaccination against the real flu – but not against colds. The vaccine is reassembled every year, depending on which pathogens are currently circulating. Information on the current flu wave is available on the website of the Robert Koch Institute ( RKI ). 

Flu and cold: bacteria take advantage of the situation

In the case of severe influenza , other organs in addition to the respiratory tract can be sick: the gastrointestinal area, joints and muscles or the brain. If  bacteria penetrate the body as a result of  the virus , this puts additional strain on the already weakened body. Doctors then speak of a so-called superinfection . It most often manifests itself in the form of bronchitis. Elderly people in particular can also get pneumonia caused by bacteria. Such bacterial pneumonia can also quickly affect people with chronic diseases. People with chronic cardiovascular and lung diseases are at risk with theDiabetes or people with weak immune systems. The brain (encephalitis) or the heart muscle (myocarditis) can also become inflamed.

However, the flu can run so easily that it is mistaken for a bad cold. Doctors cannot distinguish such a mild form from other colds. Unless the doctor does rapid virus tests or special examinations .

Are you suffering from a superinfection? What is meant by that

If the body is already weakened by cold or flu viruses, some bacteria take advantage of this and also infect the affected tissue. Serious complications can result.

cold or flu can only cause viruses . Bacteria don’t. However, some doctors prescribe antibiotics , which are drugs that kill bacteria. Antibiotics cannot do anything against viruses. Do such doctors act negligently? Or even wrong? Possibly.

There is one exception, however: if your doctor determines that bacteria are also involved in your condition, antibiotics may be warranted. For some forms, he has to prescribe antibiotics. Because it is possible that a bacterial infection can be added to the viral infection. Experts call this “superinfection”. The term “super” is not meant here in an ironic and judgmental way, but is derived from a Latin word and means: on top.

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The bacteria take advantage of a weak moment in the immune system: Due to the virus attack, the defense mechanisms are already weakened. Therefore, it is easy for the bacteria to infect the affected tissue a second time.

Second infections carry risks

Typical superinfections in colds are, for example, inflammation of the sinuses or the middle ear. Both tissues can already be infected by the virus because they have fought their way from the nose into the sinuses or via the ear trumpet (the Eustachian tube) into the middle ear.

Other secondary infections associated with colds can include:

  • a tonsillitis
  • inflammation of the bronchi (bronchitis)
  • pneumonia or
  • pleurisy

Inflamed lungs due to a dragged on cold are rare, but dangerous. Because in individual cases pneumonia can be fatal. Superinfections of the heart muscle (myocarditis) or the brain and meninges (meningoencephalitis) are just as dangerous and worrying.

The risk of superinfection is higher with the flu than with the common cold, especially for those people who belong to a certain risk group . Elderly people and patients with a weakened immune system are considered at risk.

Bacteria slip through a gap in the immune system

Cold and especially flu viruses usually put the immune system to the limit. Because these are often pathogens to which the immune system first has to find a suitable reaction. In this situation, bacteria have an easy job: many immune cells are already busy fighting off viruses. Immune messengers have to be newly formed, other components of the body’s defense may have been used up.

The mucous membranes in the nose and bronchi, for example, are at the mercy of defenseless bacteria. There the viruses have already destroyed the immune system’s first line of defense: the cilia of the uppermost mucous membrane cells. These tiny hairs usually ensure that microbes are swept straight back outside. If the cells with the hairs are destroyed, the bacteria stick and can easily colonize the second cell line. The affected tissue therefore becomes ill and reacts with inflammation.

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No contact with bacteria from the environment is required for superinfection. It is also possible that the pathogens that cause disease have been in the body for some time, but have so far been successfully kept under control by the immune system. Only as a result of the infection with the virus does the matter then become unbalanced.

Superinfection – diagnosis by the doctor

How can a bacterial superinfection be recognized? The diagnosis is ultimately made by the doctor who, for example, takes a smear from the mucous membranes and examines it for bacteria. If the suspicion is confirmed, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics to fight the pathogens.

You should consult a doctor in particular if you have a high fever, severe or persistent feeling of illness and yellowish to greenish discolored sputum.

These 4 tips will lower your risk of heart attack

Stinging in the chest, shortness of breath: you should pay attention to these signs! How to recognize a heart attack and what to do

What is a heart attack (myocardial infarction)?

The best way to understand how the heart works is to think of it as a pump that powers the bloodstream to supply oxygen and nutrients to the entire body. In order for the heart to pump blood properly into the veins, it must be supplied with blood and oxygen through the coronary arteries.

However, this is precisely not the case with a heart attack. The blood supply to the heart is severely impaired or completely prevented. This happens when a coronary artery becomes blocked. “The heart does not get enough oxygen and the corresponding heart tissue dies,” explains Prof. Dr. Dr. med. Christian Jung from the University Hospital Düsseldorf. “As a result, the heart can no longer pump properly.” It is not unimportant whether a small or a large heart vessel is affected. If one of the three large coronary arteries is blocked, a comparatively large part of the heart dies – then the heart attack can be fatal within a few minutes.

What are the causes of a heart attack?

A heart attack, called ‘myocardial infarction’ in medicine, can have several causes. By far the most common cause of a heart attack, however, is arteriosclerosis . Fat and calcium deposits form on the inner wall of the blood vessels, the so-called plaques . These plaques create a constriction within the blood vessel. Over time, these bottlenecks continue to grow. This can lead to the blood vessel closing completely and the blood supply to this area coming to a complete standstill.

Arteriosclerosis can also cause a blood clot , a so-called thrombus . Particles of the resulting fat or calcium deposits can tear off the inner wall of the vessel and then circulate in the blood. The torn plaque is then enveloped in platelets. This happens with injuries and is actually vital, as it closes wounds and thus stops bleeding. The problem here, however, is that the diameter of a plaque increases until a so-called thrombus develops. The thrombus then gets caught in the constriction. There it clogs the blood vessel and prevents blood flow. Consequence: heart attack.

The formation of a thrombus can also have other causes, for example due to a reduced blood flow rate. This often happens when you do not move enough for a long time, for example as a result of a hospital stay or when you cover long distances by plane or train, for example. This thrombus then often leads to a thrombosis and less often to a heart attack

What are the symptoms of a heart attack?

With a heart attack, every second counts! It is therefore particularly important that you recognize the following signs of a heart attack and call an ambulance immediately:

  1. Sudden pain in the mostly left side of the chest : This pain can also radiate into the left arm, neck and stomach area.
  2. Chest tightness : you feel a pressure or constriction in the heart area. Like an elephant sitting on your chest.
  3. Shortness of breath : The heart’s pumping capacity is reduced, so the oxygen supply to the body drops and you get the oppressive feeling of being unable to breathe.
  4. Feeling afraid with cold sweats : You develop the feeling that you are in a life-threatening situation. Fear, often accompanied by a cold sweat, arises in you.

However, these symptoms are only partially valid for diabetics. The diabetes causes nerve damage that affects the pain sensation. “Since nerve damage can also occur in the heart, many diabetics perceive the heart attack symptoms less or not at all,” explains Professor Jung. Such a heart attack without pain is called a ‘ silent heart attack ‘

What are the consequences of a heart attack?

There are three major coronary arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. These large coronary vessels further divide into smaller blood vessels. How life-threatening a heart attack ultimately is depends, among other things, on the blood vessel in which the blockage occurs. The larger the blocked blood vessel, the more heart tissue dies. The area scars and is replaced by connective tissue, which reduces the performance of the heart muscle. When it comes to the effects of a heart attack, a distinction is made between short-term and long-term dangers:

  • Short-term: Every heart attack is an acutely life-threatening situation. “During a heart attack, heart tissue actively dies and life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias and ventricular fibrillation can occur,” says Professor Jung. This is why it is so important that you react quickly and call an emergency doctor. This starts an emergency supply chain, which includes that you will be taken to the nearest cardiac catheterization laboratory. With the help of a catheter that is inserted through an artery, for example on the wrist, the constriction in the heart can be opened again.
  • Long-term: The heart is responsible for supplying oxygen to all organs in the body. If heart muscle tissue dies as a result of a heart attack, this means that the heart’s pumping function deteriorates, which in turn reduces the body’s performance. In addition, a heart attack increases the risk of another cardiac event – from fatal cardiac arrhythmias to cardiac arrest.

 

First aid for a heart attack

In some cases, cardiac arrest can occur due to a heart attack . If you notice that someone around you is suddenly no longer responsive and has no signs of circulatory system, immediately dial the emergency number 112 and start resuscitation measures as a first aid (chest compressions or alternating cardiac massage and mouth-to-mouth Ventilation: alternately press 30 times and ventilate twice)! The longer a person has cardiovascular arrest, the more life threatening it is. Every minute counts! If the person concerned can be spoken to, you should – while you wait for the ambulance – lie his upper body upright, loosen his shirt collar and tie and give him a calming effect so that he breathes as slowly and deeply as possible.

Risk factors for a heart attack

There are a number of risk factors that can make a heart attack more likely. Some factors, such as being overweight, can influence you directly, others, such as genetic predisposition, less so.

The risk factors for a heart attack include:

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Smoke
  • high blood pressure
  • Increased blood lipids
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • stress
  • Genetic predisposition, e.g. due to a blood clotting disorder or blood lipid disorder

4 tips on how to prevent a heart attack

You can effectively minimize the risk of heart attacks with these rules of conduct:

  1. Say ‘no’ to the glowing stick: “Most young patients who have a heart attack are smokers,” explains Professor Jung. Smoking makes the blood vessels rigid, accelerates arteriosclerosis and increases blood pressure.
  2. Pay attention to your alcohol consumption: There is little objection to a small glass of red wine. However, it is important not to overdo it. Make sure you don’t consume more than 20 grams of alcohol per day. But that is achieved faster than you think. If you drink two small bottles of beer, you have already exceeded the limit of 20 grams.
  3. Eat a healthy diet : A Mediterranean diet that contains a lot of vegetables and fruit, fish and good fats (such as olive oil or rapeseed oil) but little meat, salt and hydrogenated fats is good for the heart. Because a balanced diet has a positive effect on blood pressure. In addition, it prevents arteriosclerosis and supplies the body with sufficient nutrients.
  4. Do endurance sports: Moderate and continuous training reduces your risk of heart attacks. Jogging, cross trainer, swimming or cycling are ideal. Endurance sport increases blood circulation, accelerates the blood flow rate, strengthens the heart and encourages the formation of new blood vessels. Exercise also prevents obesity and high blood pressure and reduces stress. 

Help for the sick protective cover

People with neurodermatitis usually have very dry and sensitive skin. Even in phases without eczema, it needs a lot of attention and the right care – to prevent a new flare-up.

The most important function of the skin is protection. It envelops the sensitive interior of the body, absorbs shocks and prevents, for example, pathogens or other substances from penetrating the organism. But she can only do all of this if she is healthy. This is precisely not the case with people with eczema . Your skin is usually very dry, which means that the barrier function is disturbed: the skin can, to put it simply, can no longer fight off irritating substances, it then becomes inflamed and itches.

The most effective therapy is first of all to avoid the trigger, if known, and to be careful not to unnecessarily stress the skin. This includes, for example, that those affected take care not to sweat too much and to wear loose-fitting, breathable fabrics such as cotton or silk on the skin, because sweat and tight clothing irritate the skin. Wool is not suitable. For the same reason, you should avoid using products that contain preservatives, colors and fragrances if possible.

Fat and moisture in the right proportion

Skin care products are differentiated according to whether they contain more water or more fat. The water-rich products include creams, lotions and so-called hydrogels. Ointments and oil baths, on the other hand, contain more fat than water. Important to know: The health insurance companies do not cover the costs for such care products because they are not classified as medication.

There is a rule of thumb to choose the right preparation: moist on moist, fatty on dry. During an acute attack, when the skin is open and wet, it therefore needs water-based care. Water has a cooling, drying effect and relieves itching. These oil-in-water emulsions (little oil in a lot of water) are also preferred in summer. As soon as the protective barrier is intact again, a high-fat water-in-oil emulsion (little water in a lot of oil) ensures that it becomes soft and supple again. The oils form a film on the skin so that the moisture does not evaporate. Such ointments are also helpful in the cold in winter.

Ointments with urea, a urea, have also proven effective in treating neurodermatitis. Urea helps the skin retain moisture and soothes itching. However, it should not be applied to inflamed areas as they can leave the skin feeling burning. The attending physician determines how high the concentration should be. In any case, he should coordinate the care of the skin, including cleaning, with you individually and advise you well on the selection of products.

Bathe little, drink a lot

Oil-replenishing baths are also recommended, especially for large-area treatment of dry skin – if they are done no more than once or twice a week. Basically, people with sensitive and dry skin should not bathe too often, and certainly not too hot and too long. This also dries out the skin. Showering is the better alternative. Also, avoid too frequent hand washing and skin disinfectants.

A bath in cool, salty sea water, on the other hand, is beneficial, provided the skin surface is intact. You should then take a good shower and apply lotion. Visits to the swimming pool are less recommended for people with neurodermatitis – on the one hand, because water with the addition of chlorine dries out the skin severely, and on the other hand, because in swimming pools you can easily become infected with certain viruses, such as human papilloma viruses, which lead to skin changes.

Otherwise, one of the general recommendations is to provide the body with sufficient fluid from within. Adults should drink around 1.5 liters of drinks per day, preferably water, advises the German Nutrition Society. It is correspondingly less for children.

The 5 most important health checkups for men

M al honest: When men feel ill, they may suffer quite a bit. Especially in the presence of a woman. But go to the doctor? Nope, not necessary. If your own body finally forces you to see a doctor, the sober diagnosis from the experts is in the worst case: “If you had come earlier, we could have saved something.” Whether ignorance, fear or allegedly no time: the data speaks against you! The most common causes of death in men are cardiovascular diseases and tumors. These and many other insidious diseases can often be detected in good time through early detection screenings. Problem: Only a lousy 17 percent use the free health check-up for men over the age of 35. 

Don’t let it get that far. We will tell you which 5 preventive medical check-ups you are entitled to, from what age they are sensible and how often you should take them. Tip: Many health insurances award points for bonus programs when you participate in the so-called screenings . The bill: You pay attention to a healthy lifestyle and have yourself examined, for this you reward the health insurance, for example with cash premiums (up to 300 euros) or benefits in kind.

1. Skin cancer screening

When and how often? From the age of 35, often much earlier, as a person with statutory health insurance, you are entitled to an “early detection examination for skin cancer” every 2 years.

Your entire body will be examined for different types of skin cancer, such as malignant melanoma (black skin cancer). Yes, the doctor will look at your entire body, including your hairy scalp and every fold of your body. Do not believe just because certain parts of the body are not exposed to direct sun that you cannot get skin cancer there.

Important: You do not necessarily have to see a dermatologist. A specialist in general medicine can carry out the screening, informs the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV). In addition: Many health insurance companies offer the early detection examination much earlier. It can even vary from state to state. Example: With the Techniker Krankenkasse, patients from the age of 20 can be examined for skin cancer. Therefore: Be sure to ask your health insurance company.

2. Health check-up

When and how often? From the age of 35, as a person with statutory health insurance, you are entitled to a health check-up every 2 years.

You can think of the examination as a kind of inventory: the doctor will first ask you about previous illnesses and illnesses of family members as well as any complaints. Then a blood count is done and balance, reflexes, muscle tone checked, blood pressure and pulse rate measured. Your nervous system will also be examined.  

You feel good and fit, so why should you do this check-up? It only takes time! We are happy to repeat it for you: because many diseases, such as diabetes, now start inconspicuously! For a cardiovascular disease such as arteriosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels), a high cholesterol level and blood pressure can be sufficient. In the worst case scenario, it can end in a heart attack. And do you know what your urine is telling you? The color and smell can indicate kidney and bladder disease or diabetes.  

3. Cancer screening

When and how often? From the age of 45, the health insurances take over this useful preventive examination once per calendar year.

This involves a medical examination of the external genital organs, the local lymph nodes and a palpation of the rectum to examine the prostate. Testicular and prostate cancer are one of the most common types of cancer: Prostate cancer alone ranks third among the causes of cancer-related death in men. Prostate cancer does not automatically affect older men. Actor Ben Stiller was diagnosed when he was only 48 years old.    

Many experts and health insurance companies also advise: Men should feel their own testicles once a month from the age of 18. Look out for indurations, lumps, enlargements or reductions and pronounced tenderness of the testicles. Because: The malignant testicular tumor is the most common cancer for men between 20 and 35 years of age.  

4. Dental care

When and how often? The statutory health insurance companies offer 3 types of health care for your biters. First there is the well-known check-up. Adults can have their teeth checked for diseases such as tooth decay by the dentist twice a year. Next up: Once a year you can have tartar removed. You should definitely not do without it. Because: If left untreated, inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) can quickly turn into periodontitis. In addition, you can go for periodontal early detection every 2 years, the so-called periodontal screening index, informs the consumer advice center. Everything is free. Do it.  

5. Colon cancer screening

When and how often? From 50 to 55 years of age, you are entitled to the screening examinations for the early detection of colon cancer once a year. This is first done using a test for invisible blood in the stool, the so-called immunological stool blood test (iFOBT). You can then have this test done every 2 years. The proctologist does that, but so does your family doctor. From the age of 55, the health insurance companies offer a colonoscopy, which can be repeated every 10 years. If colon polyps are found, the doctor can remove them on the spot.  

So far, the stool blood test was only valid from the age of 55. Why was the screening brought forward? Because it was found that 10 percent of the diagnoses were made before the age of 55! Plus: Colon cancer is the second most common diagnosis of all types of cancer and also the second most common cause of death, reports the Robert Koch Institute. In 2018, they estimate that 33,000 men will be newly diagnosed with colorectal cancer. The earlier the disease is detected, the higher the chances of survival. Your relative 5 year survival rate? Solid 62 percent. So don’t hesitate: make an appointment with your specialist! 

Conclusion: preventive medical checkups can save your life

Many diseases creep up over the years. Early detection examinations for men are therefore not only useful for the over-50 generation. On the contrary: If you are between 18 and 45 years old, you are in luck: health insurances are obliged to offer their patients a certain number of preventive examinations free of charge. Use the chance to identify and defuse diseases at an early stage.

The 9 best tips against bloating

A bloated stomach causes unpleasant noises, smells and pain – and makes your six pack look like a paunch. This is how you expel excess air from your stomach

What do you get a bloated stomach from?

Gases form in the intestines after eating. They arise when the food is digested and broken down into its individual components. A large part of the air enters the lungs via the bloodstream and is exhaled again. But sometimes the stomach is so bloated that it cannot be transported back via the blood. There are various causes that can lead to a bloated stomach. Bad diet, intolerance and stress are part of it. To find out what the cause is, you should try these tips for treating excess air in your stomach. Usually it is enough to change your lifestyle and daily habits just a little to prevent bloating.

How do you avoid a bloated stomach?

Here are the 9 most effective tips for the bloated stomach.

1. Make a note of your eating habits: A first step in tracking down the causes is a food diary . Keep a record of what you eat and what complaints occur over a longer period of time (preferably several weeks) – in a classic way in a notebook or with an app. This makes it easier to identify suspicious foods. If you have identified a personal list of puffy products, leave it out. The bloated stomach disappears? Bingo! Now take a closer look: is it mainly dairy products? Then you may not tolerate lactose so well. Show the list to your doctor the next time you visit a doctor and have yourself tested for allergies and intolerances.

2. Drink against the bloated stomach: If you drink little, the bowel becomes sluggish. Because he needs enough liquid to transport the food pulp on. It should be at least 1.5 to 2 liters per day. Still water is well tolerated and does not cause gas.
No-gos with a tendency to bloat are mineral water with a lot of carbon dioxide or coffee, they only irritate the intestines even more. Anyone who is sensitive to carbon dioxide should also avoid the cool after-work beer, lemonades and sparkling wine. Warning: If you sip your refreshment through a drinking straw, you will also swallow air.
In addition to water, herbal teas such as peppermint, cardamom, caraway and dandelion teas soothe the bloated stomach. The super bulb ginger also provides relief from stomach upsets and flatulence. It stimulates the digestive processes and has a relaxing effect. Simply cut 2-3 thin slices and pour hot water over them. 
3. Eat more fiber slowly: Plant-based foods contain a lot of fiber, which swells in the intestines and thus stimulates digestion. However, the intestinal flora sometimes has to get used to it. So increase the amount of fiber slowly, day by day, until it reaches the nutritionist recommended amount of around 30 grams per day. This corresponds to about 2 slices of whole grain bread, an apple, 160 grams of berries, 200 grams of potatoes with their skin, 200 grams of broccoli and 100 grams of radish.

These foods are particularly high in fiber and should therefore end up on your plate as often as possible:

  • Whole grain products (bread, pasta, rice)
  • linseed
  • millet
  • Berry fruits
  • artichoke
  • soy
  • peanuts
  • broccoli
  • and dried plums

Take your time while eating! If you eat too quickly and swallow large bites without chewing, you will also swallow a lot of air and make it difficult for the intestines to process the nutrients. He copes better with smaller portions than if you fill your stomach 3 times a day. In addition, your gut is totally into routine. Regular meals are important so that he can get used to suitable emptying times. It is best to eat 5 small meals throughout the day.

4. Do more exercise: you sit at your desk all day? No wonder that the gases have a hard time escaping. Too little exercise is one of the most common reasons for bloating.
Therefore, use every opportunity for more exercise in everyday life. Instead of the elevator, take the stairs. Stop by the colleague in the office for a moment instead of calling him. And on the way home you take a little detour on foot.

5. Avoid “intestinal irritants”: Some foods are known to have a bloating effect. If your intestines are already irritated, you shouldn’t eat these foods:

  • Onions and cabbage
  • legumes
  • unripe fruit
  • Nuts and raisins
  • very fresh bread
  • coffee
  • carbonic acid
  • chocolate
  • Ice, ice cubes
  • Greasy
  • Fast food
  • breaded meat
  • and hot spices

Are you a little bit intolerant too? Food intolerance (e.g. lactose intolerance) or allergies are often the trigger for a bloated stomach. But intestinal diseases such as chronic inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome or intestinal fungus could also be the reason. You can only be excluded by the doctor. There you can also get tested for intolerance and allergies.

6. Out with the gum! Most of the gas that collects in the intestines comes from the air that we unconsciously swallow when we eat and drink. With each sip, 2-3 milliliters of air enter the stomach. When chewing gum, the proportion of air swallowed is much higher.

Chewing gum is a problem for the intestines for another reason: Chewing gum almost always contains sugar substitutes (mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol), which stimulate digestion and worsen the symptoms. The note “Can have a laxative effect if consumed in excess” is a sure sign that the proportion of artificial sugar substitutes is particularly high. So chew some fresh peppermint leaves for fresh breath.

7. Soothe your stomach with herbs: Many herbs are known for their healing properties. If you have a bloated stomach, however, you should keep your hands off hot spices and not irritate the intestines additionally. These rather mild culinary herbs refine your meals and help to get rid of bloated stomach:

  • anise
  • basil
  • Savory
  • dill
  • garlic
  • coriander
  • Caraway seed
  • turmeric
  • Lovage
  • marjoram
  • clove
  • and parsley

Tip: Before you resort to synthetic laxatives or other drugs such as defoamers, try to soothe the bloated stomach in a gentle way. A good remedy for all kinds of gastrointestinal problems is healing clay . The finely ground powder binds excess gases in the digestive tract. If you take it half an hour before the meal, you can effectively prevent bloating.

8. Increase the number of “good” bacteria in the intestine: Without bacteria, nothing works in the intestine. More than 100 trillion bacteria colonize your digestive organ. It is important for the health of the intestines that the right tenants live with you. You can support this with probiotic foods. They contain lactic acid and bifidobacteria, which regulate the pH value of the large intestine and thus act directly on the scene. Anyone who eats kefir, sauerkraut, quark or foods with artificially added probiotic cultures for 4 weeks can support the growth of the natural intestinal flora and build up effective protection against gastrointestinal complaints. 

9. Relaxation for relaxed digestion: Now do it halfway ! Stress is also one of the more common causes of bloating. For one simple reason: stress hormones increase the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and your body switches to fight-or-flight mode. A legacy of our ancestors that enabled them to flee quickly or to fight bravely in dangerous situations: pulse and respiratory rate skyrocket, the focus is now on the oxygen supply to the muscles. There is no time for digestion on the run or during a fight, so it is simply suppressed. What was vital to our ancestors’ survival now causes us to have a bloated stomach, pressure and a feeling of fullness.

Only one thing helps: relaxation for you and your intestines. Treat yourself to a little break or a soothing massage to shake off stress. In emergencies, a hot water bottle can also help relax the smooth intestinal muscles. Make sure the temperature is comfortable and not too hot.

This is how you protect yourself from fatty liver disease

More and more men are suffering from the dangerous consequences of fatty liver, even those who are slim. Here you can find out how it arises and how to prevent it

What exactly is fatty liver?

As the name suggests, this disease is an obesity of the organ. The fatty liver – medically called “steatosis hepatis” – arises from the storage of fat in the liver. This fat is deposited in the liver in the form of fat vacuoles. Even if a fatty liver can regress, you should not underestimate the disease. Because the fatty liver is considered the preliminary stage of diseases such as hepatitis or cirrhosis of the liver.

We explain the common disease, its causes and symptoms and tell you how you can protect yourself: Starting with a healthy diet to losing weight, because obesity is also one of the reasons for fatty liver.

What are the causes of fatty liver?

For a long time, liver obesity was practically only diagnosed in people who drink too much alcohol. The causes of fatty liver can also be found in the wrong diet.

This is about the so-called non-alcoholic fatty liver(after the English term non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, abbreviated NAFLD), the cause of which lies in the derailment of the metabolism, mostly triggered by improper nutrition. The liver is not only responsible for detoxifying the blood. It also ensures that the cells always have all the nutrients they need. This is why a healthy liver always has a small amount of fat on hand. However, if you overeat too quickly for too long, a chain reaction starts that causes the body to store more fat than the naturally intended amount. Doctors speak of fatty organism when more than 5 percent of the liver cells have visibly stored fat. In a full-blown fatty liver, it is even 50 percent of all cells or even more.

What are the symptoms of fatty liver?

Your liver can almost suffocate in fat, but you don’t notice anything – the organ doesn’t feel any pain. Only when the liver is already greatly enlarged is it sometimes noticeable through feelings of pressure in the upper abdomen. (If it hurts badly in this area, it is mostly migrating gallstones – completely different construction site.) A stressed liver can also make itself felt through tiredness – but who leads such a relaxed life that there are not umpteen other reasons for the dullness Question could come? Until the liver is irreversibly damaged, there are practically no symptoms. A timely diagnosis is therefore difficult.

The fatty liver can be seen on the ultrasound image, but very late: “Only when significantly more than 10 percent of the cells have stored fat,” adds Worm. More precise imaging processes are so complex and expensive that they are only used in studies. A biopsy, i.e. a tissue removal, would also be very accurate. However, nobody undertakes such drastic interventions without justified suspicion – being often tired is not a sufficient indication on its own. Fortunately, an abundance of studies has now shown that the doctor can find out about obesity by combining different blood values.

Fat trap: sick can soon become life-threatening
An obese liver suffers in a number of ways. Inflammation often occurs. The possible consequences are always the same, whether it is fat, viruses, alcohol or other poisons: If it cannot be contained, more and more liver tissue loses its function and becomes scarred – this is called fibrosis and later cirrhosis. A tumor can then develop from the fibrinous tissue. But even if that doesn’t happen: at some point a cirrhotic liver will no longer be able to perform its tasks, and without a transplant, that’s it. But as startling as these prospects may be, obesity in your liver has put your life in serious danger long before it happens, because it drastically increases the risk of diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.

What are the dangers of fat deposits in the body?

Not only fat people have fatty livers. Around 15 percent of slim people also suffer from it. The reasons for this are fat deposits in the body and genetic causes.

Researchers call those affected Tofis (from thin outside, fat inside – i.e. thin outside, fat inside). Their often poor blood lipid values ​​have puzzled the doctors – only now are the connections slowly clearing up. The root of fatty liver disease is how the body deals with the excess calories. Some people can park a lot of fat exactly where it belongs, namely under the skin. Even if the bacon rolls created in this way don’t exactly improve your chances of flirting on the beach: this is probably an advantage for your liver. In these people, despite being significantly overweight, their blood values ​​are often okay; their risk of developing diabetes or suffering from a heart attack is not increased. But in people whose bodies cannot store the fat in the subcutaneous tissue, it often ends up in tissues that cannot handle it. One speaks of ectopic (stray) fat. In the beginning only the liver is affected, but later almost all other organs of the body, including the brain and bones. The stray fat paralyzes the cells and can even kill them. 

Disturbed vessels: The fat wanders around dangerously in the body
The fat becomes a danger if the body doesn’t know what to do with it. A layer of fat would be a great place – but this is a highly active tissue and must therefore be well supplied with blood. However, if you eat really lavishly for a long time, you force the fat cells to grow and multiply very quickly – the blood vessels may not keep up. Then the cells are no longer adequately supplied with oxygen and send out alarm messages that fuel inflammation and thus stimulate vascular growth. “The inflammation also reduces the cells’ sensitivity to the hormone insulin,” explains expert Worm. This works like a key, without which no new fat can get into the cells provided for it.

When this happens depends on the individual and also genetically. The fact is: fat goes astray faster in men. Whatever your figure looks like: a bulging stomach is an alarm signal! The ball indicates that fat has accumulated in the abdominal cavity – then the liver is practically always fatty. And don’t try to blame everything on genes – lifestyle also plays a decisive role. Numerous factors influence whether an inflammation just flares up or blazes up – for example, whether you are well supplied with nutrients such as vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. But stress and poor sleep also fuel the process. Ultimately, two questions are decisive: How much exercise do your muscles get and where do the calories you feed come from?

Killer glucose: carbohydrates cause fatty liver

Ultimately, carbohydrates are primarily responsible for fatty liver, and most of them consume (too) many nowadays.

It may seem like a contradiction, but the connection becomes clear when you look at the role of insulin: When you eat, all the usable carbohydrates end up in the blood as individual glucose molecules. With the help of insulin, they are channeled into cells. It has to be done quickly, otherwise the sugar will damage the blood vessels. So that glucose has priority, insulin slows down fat utilization. In the cells, the glucose is either used immediately for energy production or stored in the liver and muscle cells. These memories are limited, however, because glucose is just a wild card for intense exertion. If these don’t exist, meaning you lead a comfortable life but still eat plenty of carbohydrates, the stores are full. This initially makes your muscle cells less sensitive to insulin – they keep the door closed, so to speak. In order to get rid of the excess sugar anyway, more insulin is released. And indeed the glucose disappears from the blood – but where does it go?

A study from Yale Universityshows: In this metabolic situation, the insulin resistance, the glucose is converted into fat in the liver. In this situation, however, the doors of the fat cells are often tight. You already know what happens next: the fat has to be stored in the liver or ends up in other tissues via the bloodstream. It then triggers inflammation in the vessels, which can promote arteriosclerosis on the inside of the veins. If it is the coronary arteries that seal, it comes to a heart attack, if arteries in the brain are affected, you suffer a stroke. The risk of diabetes also increases: with increasing obesity, the pancreas and liver also become insulin-resistant, they can then hardly be regulated – and the sugar metabolism derails more and more. If even enormous amounts of insulin are no longer enough,

How do you prevent fatty liver disease?

You can prevent fatty liver disease, especially by losing weight. But a lighter lifestyle, i.e. more sport and less sugar, is also a precaution.

The liver can recover if you lose weight. You don’t have to wait until your figure is fit for the beach again. Research by the University of Newcastlehave shown that you can defat the liver quickly and effectively without losing too much weight: by fasting. The test subjects (all diabetics) consumed 600 calories daily in the form of powder shakes, plus 200 calories from vegetables with a little dip – and in this way already lost 30 percent of liver fat in the first week. Both the blood lipid and blood sugar levels improved immediately. In the further course, even pancreatic cells believed dead regenerated.

“The key to this development, which was first observed after gastric surgery, is the drastically reduced energy intake,” says expert Worm. It is even better if the 800 calories allowed daily contain as few carbohydrates as possible but enough protein: “Otherwise too much muscle mass will be broken down.” If you are carrying a lot of excess weight with you, however, a 2-week fast is usually not enough to make muscles and adipose tissue sensitive to insulin again. That means: If you don’t want to bring your metabolism back on the wrong track, you either have to fast more often, lose weight significantly or shape your life a little differently – above all more actively.

More exercise and less sugar than prevention

To prevent your liver from becoming fatty again after such a fast, it is best to try a double strategy:

  1. Increase movement: More endurance training is good, more strength training is even better. Because the more muscle mass you have, the more blood sugar you can store. In addition, thicker muscles consume more energy with every movement. Studies show: Even in people who are already insulin-resistant, every burst of activity improves their current situation, and the effect lasts for the rest of the day. 
  2. Lower insulin requirements: Eat in such a way that the body can get by on smaller amounts of the hormone. Reduce your carbohydrate intake and give your metabolism as much relief as possible during the night. Do not add anything after dinner, especially no carbohydrates (so no beer, no apple carvers). About 4 hours after the last bite (which you slept through blissfully), the healing mini-fast begins until the first meal of the new day. Increase the effect by having a low-carb dinner or (if breakfast is not your cup of tea) extending the insulin break until morning. Even coffee without milk and sugar does not destroy the effect. This is how you keep your metabolism on track – and your liver fit.

How do I eat properly if I have fatty liver?

Now you know how to prevent fatty liver disease. But what to do if you already have fatty liver? First of all: don’t panic! Fatty liver is basically a benign disease. Only if the causes that led to the liver damage are not eliminated in good time can it become a serious danger and in the worst case lead to liver cirrhosis or hepatitis. Otherwise, fatty liver disease can usually even completely regress. Here are a few tips on which diet can contribute to the regression of fatty liver:

  1. Goodbye alcohol:   If you suffer from fatty liver, you should completely avoid alcohol.  
  2. Drink plenty of water: The basic requirement for a balanced and healthy diet is to drink enough fluids: At least 2 liters a day. Conventional mineral water or tea is recommended. Fruit or vegetable juices should only be drunk diluted.
  3. Rely on whole grain products: If you have the choice between whole grain bread or white bread, then it is best to opt for the former and avoid the quickly digestible sugars that are found in white bread, cakes or sweets, for example.
  4. Fruit and vegetables: True to the motto: “One apple a day, keeps the doctor away”, you should buy fruit and vegetables, because they contain many vitamins and minerals. Already knew? In order not to lose such valuable substances when cooking, it is advisable to only briefly cook or stew the vegetables. 
  5. Protein, protein, protein: foods containing protein are particularly helpful in combating fatty liver. Hard-boiled eggs, (lean) quark, yoghurt or cheese are ideal sources of protein. But be careful: it is better not to grab cheeses that are too fatty and avoid the mostly fatty fried eggs or scrambled eggs with bacon. 

The general rule is: Avoid a diet that is (too) high in fat. You should also make sure not to consume too many carbohydrates, but rather to follow a protein-based diet – with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. 

Medical check-up: this is how you recognize fatty liver

Perhaps it will soon be enough to take a single blood test to detect fatty liver disease. Until then, your doctor has to collect several values ​​and combine them correctly. A check overview.

1. Collect classic blood values: For a meaningful indication of the state of the metabolism, you need two blood values ​​that your doctor may have already collected during a check-up: the triglycerides (free fats) and the “good” HDL cholesterol. Then you do the math: Triglyceride value divided by the HDL value. The result should be less than 2. Significantly higher values ​​(in men from 3.5, in women from 2.5) are typical for insulin resistance – thus also for fatty liver and an increased risk of diabetes and heart attack.

2. Measure blood sugar levels:The fasting value is usually measured, but this is the last to react conspicuously. The result – usually given in milligrams per deciliter (mg / dl) – becomes more meaningful if you also have the insulin content in the blood measured. This is given as a thousandth of a standard unit (mU for milli-unit) per milliliter. You multiply the glucose value with the insulin value and divide the result by 405. Values ​​greater than 2 indicate insulin resistance. Diabetics are at 5.

3. Analyze typical liver values:There are 3 blood tests that indicate liver cell damage. You will find the abbreviations GPT, GOT and GGT on the laboratory slip. But these values ​​are not always reliable: even if they appear normal, the liver can be fatty or even inflamed. In any case, increased values ​​are an occasion to check whether a fatty liver is present.

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