Summer Flu

By | June 10, 2022

A summer flu is understood to mean a flu-like infection in the summertime. However, the symptoms are not as severe as with influenza.

What is summer flu?

A summer flu is basically a common cold that occurs most commonly in June, July and August. Despite the colloquial term summer flu, only the mild symptoms of a flu-like infection appear and not the pronounced symptoms of influenza (real flu). For ca explanations, please visit

Summer flu is caused by enteroviruses such as coxsackie viruses or echoviruses, while real flu is caused by influenza viruses. The symptoms of a summer cold are similar to those of a conventional influenza infection.


Viruses, which primarily include enteroviruses, are responsible for the outbreak of summer flu. Enteroviruses are found all over the world and can multiply in the gut. From there they are excreted from the organism with the stool. In contrast to common cold viruses, enteroviruses spread through smear infections.

In the case of insufficient hygiene, it is possible for the affected person to pass on the enteroviruses by shaking hands. The pathogens rarely enter the body by inhaling droplets that are released by coughing or sneezing. It can sometimes take two to four weeks for the disease to break out. With normal cold viruses, the incubation period is only three to four days.

The germs find an ideal entry point when the body is already weak. This can be dry or irritated mucous membranes of the mouth and nose. In addition, the large temperature differences that prevail in the summer months also play an important role.

They pose a major challenge for the body’s defense system. If the warm body cools down too much due to open car windows, air conditioning or the consumption of cold drinks, this results in increasing dehydration of the body. This in turn increases the risk of summer flu.

Other possible causes of summer flu are sunbathing for too long or not drinking enough fluids. This also weakens the immune system and makes it more susceptible to virus attacks.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The typical symptoms of summer flu are the same as those of autumn and winter flu. The patients initially suffer from a runny nose, a sore throat, tiredness and headaches. In the further course, a sore throat, cough, body aches, chills and fever can occur.

In some cases, abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting are also possible because the summer flu is accompanied by a gastrointestinal infection. The affected people feel weak and sick. Summer flu is usually not dangerous.

However, there is a risk of complications in people who already have a weakened immune system or in babies. In the worst case, heart valve inflammation or meningitis (meningitis) can result in death.

Children are particularly affected by summer flu, although in most cases the course of the disease is harmless. It is not uncommon for the triggering viruses to be transmitted in day care centers or kindergartens.

Diagnosis & course of disease

If the patient suffers from severe symptoms or if the symptoms persist for a long time, it is advisable to see a doctor. The doctor can usually make the diagnosis based on the description of the symptoms. They will also perform a physical exam, looking more closely at the throat and pharynx to check for any redness or swelling.

Important indications are swollen nasal mucous membranes and swelling of the lymph nodes. If necessary, the doctor has the option of having a stool or blood sample taken. This is then analyzed in a laboratory. As a rule, the diagnosis of summer flu does not cause any difficulties.

The average duration of a summer flu is seven days. If you take it easy on your body, drink a lot of fluids and air your room at regular intervals, you can shorten the duration of the illness a little.


Elderly people, children and people with immunodeficiency are particularly vulnerable to summer flu complications. In connection with influenza, they often suffer from pneumonia or inflammation of the middle ear, paranasal sinuses and other internal and external organs. Existing lung diseases such as bronchitis, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can worsen.

In addition to these bacterial superinfections, summer flu can also cause cardiovascular disease and chronic heart damage. As a result of brain or spinal cord inflammation, damage to muscle tissue and the central nervous system can occur. A typical secondary disease is Reye’s syndrome, in which the liver and brain are damaged. If the course is severe, summer flu can cause chronic illness or even be fatal.

Various side effects and interactions are conceivable in drug treatment for summer flu. Oseltamivir and similar drugs can cause gastrointestinal disorders, anaphylactic reactions and edema, among other things. In rare cases, complications such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome or toxic epidermal necrosis can occur. Long-term use can cause serious damage to the kidneys, liver, heart and lungs. In addition, addictive behavior and, as a result, addiction can develop.

When should you go to the doctor?

On average, a summer flu lasts seven to ten days, with improvement noticeable as early as the third day. If the symptoms worsen, the summer flu lasts longer or a high fever occurs, the family doctor should be consulted. If the cold cannot drain from the frontal and paranasal sinuses, it gets stuck. This leads to inflammation. Severe headaches associated with the summer flu, especially when bending over, can be assumed to be caused by a frontal or sinus infection. It should be treated by your family doctor or ear, nose and throat doctor.

It also makes sense to visit one of the aforementioned doctors if the cold looks yellow-green. Bacteria that are treated with an antibiotic can be responsible for this. If breathing problems occur as a result of the summer flu, this is a possible indication of pneumonia. This assumption must also be clarified by the general practitioner or the pulmonologist. The immune system is weak in small children, the elderly and chronically ill people. If you have a summer flu with severe symptoms, you should be presented to your family doctor immediately.

Treatment & Therapy

In the treatment of summer flu, the focus is on alleviating the symptoms. It is important to consistently cure the infection and stay in bed for a few days, no matter how nice the summer weather is. During the recovery phase, the body needs a lot of rest. Rinsing the nasal mucosa with salt is also considered helpful. Due to the high salt content, the mucous membranes can be disinfected and soothed.

To strengthen the immune system, the body can be given more vitamins and minerals. Zinc, vitamin C and magnesium are particularly recommended . The use of well-established home remedies such as ginger is also considered to be helpful for summer flu. For this purpose, four to five slices of ginger are boiled and taken as a tea.

Sage tea and chamomile tea, which can be administered as a gargle solution, also have anti-inflammatory properties. It makes sense to put on calf wraps or to carry out a sweating treatment with lime blossom tea or elderflower tea to combat fever. Other possible treatments are quark wraps around the neck, lozenges for a sore throat from the pharmacy and fennel and eucalyptus for coughs.


In order to avoid summer flu in the first place, it is important to prevent the body from getting too cold. In the car or in the office, the air conditioning should therefore not be set too high. It is also better to avoid drinking ice-cold drinks. After bathing, wet clothing must be changed quickly.

A summer flu is expressed by cold-like symptoms such as coughing, runny nose and general malaise. Occasionally fever is added to the symptoms. An intensive follow-up care is not required for a mild course. If the summer flu is more severe, a visit to the doctor is recommended. Treatment and aftercare are the same as for a common cold.


In the case of summer flu, precautions can be taken rather than aftercare. The person concerned can contribute to this themselves. A healthy, vitamin-rich diet protects against recurrence of the disease. Air conditioning drafts should be avoided or reduced despite the summer heat. It promotes drying out of the irritated mucous membranes.

It is also important to ensure that you get enough rest and drink enough fluids. However, the drinks must not be too cold or enriched with ice cubes, but should be at room temperature beforehand. Lukewarm chamomile or peppermint tea works best.

If there is no significant improvement in the state of health after a week, a doctor should be consulted. The prescribed drugs are adapted to the respective symptoms (anti-inflammatory, decongestant, expectorant…). An undiscovered pollen allergy can be hidden behind the cold. An allergist can test the affected person for it.

You can do that yourself

The summer flu can also be managed by those affected by self-help if the course is not particularly severe. In principle, the same measures apply as for the classic winter flu or cold. In addition, special consideration must be given to the warm outside temperatures and the associated frequent loss of fluids in the affected patients. In the case of concomitant diseases, however, the doctor should be consulted as a precaution.

The liquid is best balanced with water and herbal or fruit teas, which can also be drunk cool in the warm season. In case of fever, cooling calf wraps are a proven home remedy, while the upper respiratory tract can be freed with inhalations. In principle, there is nothing wrong with fever-free patients spending time outdoors, such as in the garden, but a place in the shade is advisable here. It is also important that those affected do not dress too loosely due to the warm temperatures.

The summer flu is often triggered by enteroviruses and is therefore often associated with abdominal pain and nausea. Here, self-help also means protecting the gastrointestinal tract. Avoid sweets and fats, alcohol and too much coffee. Anyone who smokes should clearly stop nicotine consumption, at least in the acute phase of the disease, in order not to put even more strain on the respiratory tract.

Summer Flu