Summer flu is a form of virus-induced flu, which occurs predominantly in summer and shows general symptoms of a flu infection. These include fever, head and body aches. The course of the summer flu is generally a milder than in the winter months occurring, "real" flu - influenza. The pathogen, usually the Coxsackie virus, is another than the influenza virus, the trigger of the classic flu.

The transmission of viruses is largely comparable to that of "normal" flu - they are mainly spread by a so-called droplet infection. Coughing or sneezing causes a catapult-like distribution of the viruses into the ambient air. Even areas afflicted with viruses can be passed on to the mucous membranes through contact via the hands, thus penetrating into humans and causing summer flu.


The causes of the emergence of a summer flu on the one hand, the contact of the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth with the triggering viruses. On the other hand, a previously weakened immune system favors the outbreak.

The viruses penetrate into the body cells, multiply there and trigger the known flu symptoms such as fever, runny nose, headache and body aches. The weakening of the immune system can be triggered on the one hand by hypothermia. Staying in air-conditioned or drafty rooms often leads to dry mucous membranes, as well as the subsequent stress with strong temperature differences when leaving.

Combined with a too low hydration or even wrong clothing, it can thus lead to immunodeficiency. On the other hand, even immunocompromising, already existing diseases can be the cause. Above all, children and the elderly are at risk because their immune system is more vulnerable.


Mild symptoms of nonspecific symptoms, such as headache, body aches, fever, and possibly a mild cold, may indicate a flu. If this occurs in the summer months, the diagnosis of a summer flu is close.

Diagnostic means, such as the detection of the virus in a laboratory, are very complex and usually do not meet the standard of medical practice, since the significant costs often do not match the severity of the disease. The duration and the burden of the infection are usually not very large.


The cause of a summer flu usually so-called Coxsackie viruses are responsible, named after the US city in which they were first found. They belong to the group of Entero viruses and can cause other illnesses in addition to the summer flu.

The transmission path can be either via the respiratory tract as a droplet infection or via the fecal-oral route, for example via contaminated drinking water. Fecal-oral means that the pathogens excreted with the stool are absorbed through the mouth. Depending on the transmission path then different diseases can be caused.

incubation period

The typical incubation period of a summer flu is about 2 to 14 days.

The incubation period is the time from admission of the pathogen to the appearance of the first symptoms of a disease. This time passes without the affected person noticing something of a grippal symptom. The invading viruses have then proliferated so far in the body cells of humans until the appearance of the first symptoms that these host cells burst and flood the body with viruses. The body then begins to fight the infection by trying in the form of a cold to carry out the germs or by fever makes the immune system work better.

Accompanying symptoms

Recorded via a droplet infection, the summer flu can bring various cold symptoms with it. In addition to fever, runny nose and sore throat, can also impress cough and head and body aches.

Also often show loss of appetite, as well as irritation of the respiratory tract. Lymph node swelling in the neck area can also be observed. These symptoms do not all have to occur together. Depending on the state of the immune system and the amount of germs absorbed, they develop to varying degrees. In addition to the fever, chills or a feeling of heat accompanied by sweating are possible symptoms.

Furthermore, a rash may occur in the context of the common cold. This is common in children, because the Coxsackie virus is also detected as an agent of hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Here it comes to palms, soles and around the mouth to reddish points, some with blistering.

body aches

Body aches are common harbingers of an approaching flu infection. They are often described by the sufferer as muscle pain and are mostly in the arms and legs, but can also occur on the back. Mostly a creeping onset of pain is reported, accompanied by a weakened general sensation and incipient flu symptoms. Under heavy stress painkillers can be used for the treatments.


In addition to the common cold symptoms, it can also lead to the development of fever during a summer flu. Accompanied by early symptoms such as headaches and body aches, it initially comes to a feeling of cold, often together with chills.

The fever is to be understood as a normal physical defense reaction. The activation of the immune system with all its components can work better under the increased temperature to combat the invading pathogens. For this reason, the meaningfulness of the Fiebersenkung should be advised under certain circumstances with a physician.


Nausea in the traditional sense is not a typical feature of the summer flu. Nevertheless, flu-like infections such as the summer flu, are always subject to an individual expression of the person concerned, so that one can not rule out nausea as a symptom.

The virus that causes the summer flu can also promote symptoms of gastrointestinal inflammation with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. However, the mentioned symptoms do not all have to be heaped and parallel.

skin rash

The summer flu can have several faces. On the one hand it comes out like a flu-like infection, on the other hand it can also be associated with a rash. The causative agent of summer flu, the Coxsackie virus, is also the trigger of hand-foot-and-mouth disease, which mainly affects children. It is possible, in addition to the flu symptoms of summer flu, to get a rash as well.

Duration of the summer flu

With an intact immune system, the usual summer flu should last no longer than a week. If it lasts longer and there is a prolonged fever, it is strongly advised to see a doctor.

People with a chronic condition who take medication to modulate their immune system are at risk of having summer flu for more than a week. Likewise, it is mostly in infants or the elderly. Here, the summer flu can sometimes take up to three weeks

Treatment / therapy

In the vast majority of cases, the summer flu is a disease with a mild course, which is not comparable to that of a seasonal flu. In general, care should be taken to ensure adequate hydration and physical protection.

Warm teas and inhalations with lightly salted, steaming water can be soothing to throat and respiratory irritation.

In case of stressful headaches and body aches it can be thought about the use of a painkiller such as paracetamol, which has as a side effect additionally a fever reduction.

Further, as a hygienic measure, should be paid to a regular hand washing, since the viruses are spread straight favored by lack of hygiene.

Since viruses are not treatable with antibiotics, only the symptoms can be treated. If the fever persists for more than 3 days and there is little improvement in the symptoms, a doctor should be consulted. In general, a summer flu sounds but during this time and often leaves only a slight cough or runny nose.

Home remedies for summer flu

General measures such as regular exercise in the fresh air, a balanced healthy diet, as well as a conscientious hygiene of the hands can generally be helpful as preventive measures.

In addition, care should be taken to avoid strong temperature differences, for example between air-conditioned rooms and very warm outside temperature. If, despite all the good prevention, you are unlucky enough to get the summer flu, a generous hydration and physical protection will help. This can be used on commercial teas, with the tea from the ginger root mixed with fresh lemon juice and bee honey especially proven. The natural ingredients have a positive effect on the disease. Lozenges can be bought in the pharmacy against emerging sore throats or difficulty swallowing. Staying in the sun and high heat should be avoided as much as possible, as this usually has a worsening effect on the symptoms.


Homeopathic remedies can also be effective in the treatment of summer flu. On the whole, however, should a worsening of the symptoms and a longer duration than 1-2 weeks a doctor be consulted in any case, because no homeopathic remedy replaces a medical treatment.

Homeopathic remedies can be found in pharmacy and drugstore in the form of globules, drops or juices. The manufacturers promise the activation of the physical self-healing powers, as well as a less pronounced symptomatology of the common cold symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no scientific proof of their efficacy that they are more effective than a placebo. All in all, everyone should resort to the means that have given him or her relief in the past.

Can you get a summer flu even in winter?

Basically, the causative agent of the summer flu is detectable throughout the year and thus it is also possible to get a summer flu in winter. However, this has no further consequences, since the treatment of mild viral infections does not depend on the pathogen and, in principle, a symptomatic therapy, ie the treatment of the individual symptoms of the complaint, is preferred.

It is important to visit a doctor for prolonged influenza infections, as it can also lead to additional bacterial infections under weakened immune system. This should then be treated by the doctor if necessary also by antibiotics.

Since the summer flu is caused by a special virus and causes these symptoms, which can also be caused in the winter by other viruses as well, you would not speak in winter then of a summer flu.

What differentiates the summer flu from a normal flu?

First, one differentiates the summer flu and the normal flu by the pathogens and the respective caused symptoms. For the summer flu shows in its normal course a much milder expression than the normal flu. The influenza known as normal influenza brings a much more aggressive course with an incubation period of a few hours to a few days, sudden high fever and significant weakness.

The treatment also shows differences, because while the summer flu only fights the symptoms occurring, one can give in influenza, antiviral drugs. These can significantly weaken the course of the disease by preventing the existing viruses from reproducing. However, these can only work if they are given within the first 48 hours after symptom onset.

Another difference is made clear by the prevention of influenza, as an annual vaccination for people at risk is recommended by the STIKO (Standing Vaccination Commission). These include Immune-deficient people, all persons over the age of 60, residents of nursing homes and pregnant women.

How contagious is a summer flu?

Whether it comes to a contamination with a summer flu always depends on the individual immune status of the person affected. If you are easily struck by hypothermia or frequent exposure to air-conditioned buildings, infection can be easier. Basically, contagion always depends on the amount of germs transmitted, this can be circumvented by avoiding infected people, as well as a good hand hygiene.

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