Stimulate digestion: How to get gastrointestinal problems under control again

A healthy intestinal flora has a decisive influence on our well-being: If our digestion is not intact, we suffer from gastrointestinal complaints. With the right tips, you can stimulate your metabolism and alleviate typical symptoms.

According to a survey on the frequency of gastrointestinal complaints in Germany, eleven percent of those surveyed suffer from digestive problems such as abdominal pain, gas, constipation or diarrhea several times a month (as of 2017). The most common causes that bring our intestines out of sync include fatty food and stress or even gastric mucosal inflammation, or gastritis for short called. The solution is therefore already obvious: if you want to alleviate the symptoms and get the discomfort under control, you have to stimulate your digestion. How this works best, which foods help and what else you can do to get your gut flora in the green is summarized in this article.

A healthy intestinal flora is (not) a question of age

The bad news first: As we get older, our gastrointestinal tract becomes more sluggish, making digestive problems more common. The good news, however, is that we can do something our entire life to stimulate our metabolism. The most important cornerstones for a healthy intestinal flora include a balanced diet, plenty of drinking, regular exercise and balancing periods of rest. This is exactly what you should focus on if you have constant abdominal pain, gas, constipation, or diarrhea. Which foods even help you to stimulate digestion are explained in the next section.

These foods stimulate your digestion

As mentioned earlier, our diet has a major impact on digestion. In order to counteract or even prevent possible complaints, you should rely on foods rich in fiber, which swell in the intestinal tract and stimulate digestion and thus also the elimination of food – this, for example, prevents possible constipation and flatulence. They include oat flakes, wheat bran and whole grain bread, kefir and yoghurt, fruit and dried fruits such as raspberries, oranges and plums, lettuce, nuts such as almonds, legumes, flax seeds,  psyllium husks and sauerkraut. It is also important that you drink enough fluids, ideally at least two liters of water a day. But herbal and fruit teas without sugar and coffee also stimulate digestion.

These tips will help with digestive problems

We can stimulate digestion from the inside through diet, but there are also a few helpful tips and tricks on how you can influence your gastrointestinal tract from the outside – for example with heatOr a massage: Lie relaxed on your back and use your fingertips to gently apply pressure to the right half of the abdomen under the ribs. From there, work your way to the left side of your stomach in circular movements. Alternatively, you can stimulate your digestion with a walk: the movement promotes blood circulation in the intestine, so that the food in it can be chopped up faster and better and transported further. You can achieve the same effect through sport, although it is not advisable to get on a bike or go jogging if you have acute symptoms. In principle, however, exercise can help to get your digestion going.

The (bowel) strength lies in rest

Did you know that we don’t digest the food we eat until 30 minutes later? The technical term for this is “gastrocolic reflex”, which means the reaction of the intestine to an irritation of the stomach. From a purely biological point of view, this process cannot be accelerated. Not even if you rush to eat. For this reason, it is important to digest calmly. If you gobble down your meals quickly to save time, you are doing your digestive tract a disservice.On the contrary, it is not uncommon for it to react in the form of stomach cramps or diarrhea. So always take enough time to eat, and the same applies to going to the toilet. If you “have to,” go too – if you suppress your bowel movements, you will become constipated faster than you would like.

When a doctor’s visit is absolutely necessary

Medication or home remedies do not always help with digestive problems, so it may be advisable to see a doctor. Especially if, for example, you cannot go to the toilet for several days in a row in combination with severe abdominal cramps, have multiple blood in your stool, constipation lasts for a few weeks or you suffer from diarrhea and constipation alternately. These are all important signs that something is wrong with your gastrointestinal tract and that you should urgently have it examined.

Vitamins A, D, E and K protect the body

Fat-soluble vitamins are small but important bulwarks of the body: They protect cells from destruction, allow wounds to heal better, strengthen teeth and bones and keep mucous membranes healthy.

Just like the water-soluble vitamins , the body only needs small amounts of the fat-soluble vitamins. Nevertheless, they are also vital and fulfill important functions in the body. Therefore, with the exception of vitamin D, which the body can produce itself with the help of sunlight, they have to be ingested through food.

Fat soluble means that these vitamins do not dissolve in water, but instead need fat as a transport medium. Only then can the body use them at all.

Vitamin A is important for the eyes

Vitamin A (retinol) enables vision at dusk and – together with other components – also enables color vision. Vitamin A is part of rhodopsin, the visual pigment in the sensory cells of the retina. Vitamin A also keeps the skin and mucous membranes healthy, boosts sperm production and promotes the development of the embryo in the womb.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women have an increased need for vitamin A: They need up to 1.5 milligrams a day. Otherwise, about 0.8 to 1.0 milligrams per day, for example from animal foods such as liver or eggs, are sufficient. The body can also convert vegetable beta-carotene into vitamin A. A lack of vitamin A therefore rarely occurs. Beta-carotene is found in carrots, spinach, red peppers and dried apricots.

Vitamin D strengthens the bones

Vitamin D (calciferol) is important for bones and teeth because it ensures that calcium is absorbed from food. If there is a lack of calcium in the body , vitamin D draws the mineral from food more. That is known.

However, researchers suspect that the vitamin has many other effects. The role of vitamin D for health has been intensively researched in recent years, and not all questions have been answered. As things stand today, it has been shown that a good supply of vitamin D in the elderly can reduce the risk of falls, fractures and premature death.

Indispensable source: the sun

Vitamin D occupies a special position among the vitamins because humans do not only get it through food. In fact, humans produce a large part of their need for vitamin D, around 80 to 90 percent, themselves, in the skin. But that only works with enough sunlight.

How much vitamin D is produced by the skin depends on various factors: on the duration of the radiation, the area of ​​the exposed skin, the skin color – dark-skinned people produce less vitamin D than light-skinned people.

Sunbathe unprotected? Yes, but only shortly

But something else is also decisive: the wavelength and the dose of UVB radiation. In the summer months it is possible to meet the demand – provided the sun is shining. Experts recommend exposing a quarter of the body surface, i.e. face, hands and parts of arms and legs, to the sun for a few minutes every day, at noon between 12 and 3 p.m. – uncovered and without sun protection, because the cream prevents the formation of vitamin D.

Depending on the skin type, this can range from a few minutes to a quarter of an hour in midsummer. It is always important that the skin does not suffer from sunburn! Before 12 p.m. and after 3 p.m. and outside the summer months, i.e. from March to May and from September, the recommended time in the sun is also extended because the radiation is then weaker.

Too little sun in the north

But the problem is: In northern latitudes, including Germany, the sun’s radiation in six months of the year does not have the necessary intensity to ensure a good supply of vitamin D. Researchers have established an estimate for this (50 nanomoles per liter in the blood). Food alone is also not enough. There are only a few foods that contain a significant amount of vitamin D anyway: oily fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel, otherwise liver, egg yolks, some edible mushrooms and margarine, which is often fortified with vitamin D.

In the months with little sunshine, the German Nutrition Society therefore recommends taking a vitamin D supplement to meet your needs. This is especially true for seniors aged 65 and over.

Vitamin E strengthens the immune system

Vitamin E (tocopherols) protects body cells. It protects the cell membranes from the damaging effects of destructive substances, so-called free radicals, and therefore possibly prevents cancer and arteriosclerosis. It strengthens the immune system and reduces inflammation.

A lot of vitamin E is mainly contained in vegetable oils, but also in wheat germ, nuts and avocados. The daily requirement of an adult of twelve to 15 milligrams can be covered well with food. Deficiency or excess are rare.

Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting

Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting and bone metabolism, among other things. If it is absent, bleeding will be more frequent and the blood will take longer to clot. However, there is seldom a deficiency in healthy people, because vitamin K is found in many foods, both vegetable and animal.

Good sources of vitamin K are spinach, chives, sauerkraut, flower, rose, red and kale as well as meat and cereal products. Although a large amount of vitamin K is also formed in the intestines, it is not clear to what extent this will help to meet the needs.

People with chronic liver disease or gastrointestinal diseases are susceptible to a vitamin K deficiency. The supply of vitamin K in infants is also problematic. They only have a small supply and cannot produce the substance sufficiently because their intestinal flora is not yet fully developed. Breast milk also contains too little of it. This is why newborns are sometimes prescribed an extra portion of vitamin K by the doctor.

Back pain after running?

Think about it: what did you change four weeks ago? Do you wear different shoes? Do you run a different route? Are you currently trying out a new running technique?

“All of this can have an effect on your back,” says Margit Lock, specialist in orthopedics and sports medicine. Especially a new, incorrectly executed running technique often causes pain.

Tip: just step less! Too long strides overwhelm your muscles. This will probably keep you falling into a hollow back. “The best thing to do is to have a gait analysis carried out at an institute for performance diagnostics,” advises the Berlin doctor.

This will cost you around 120 euros, but the experts can tell you what to do differently. And try to bring more variety to your training in the future. “Just run your route the other way around,” says Lock.

This trick will make you run more focused and watch your footwork. It is also best to do easy abdominal and core muscle training two to three times a week so that your back never pinches again.

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.

5 SOS tips for headache

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.

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