Smokers particularly at risk of flu

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The Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO): People with respiratory diseases such as chronic smoking bronchitis (COPD) and asthma should have a flu vaccination given once a year. Those affected have an increased risk of serious health complications.
According to the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO), asthma sufferers, patients with respiratory diseases and smokers with chronic bronchitis should be vaccinated against flu every year. All three patient groups have a weakened immune system and are therefore exposed to special risks. "It appears that smokers experience an uncontrolled, excessive immune response in the defense against the influenza virus," said the lung specialist Dr. Bernd Schönhofer from the Oststadt Hospital in Hanover. In smokers' defense against viruses, the immune system derails, "which increases the risk of serious complications such as pneumonia or pericarditis and thus a fatal outcome." warns Dr. Bernd Schönhofer.

Vaccination is also recommended for long-time passionate smokers who have not yet suffered from chronic bronchitis. "But we pulmonologists also strongly advise long-term, previously not chronically ill smokers to be vaccinated against flu," said Schönhofer. Because smokers are often prone to colds with repeated bronchitis. The lungs, according to the specialist, already have recurring foci of inflammation. In Germany, about a third of adults smoke. Numerous campaigns have reduced the rate, especially among young people, for some years.

Every year millions of people in Germany contract the flu, which can have serious health consequences for certain risk groups such as people with a weakened immune system, chronic lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases or diabetes. The Influenza Association at the Robert Koch Institute estimates that around 2.9 million additional visits to the doctor and 5,300 influenza-related admissions to hospitals took place in the past 2009/2010 flu season. Naturopathy points out numerous possibilities to effectively prepare for so-called autumn diseases and to strengthen the immune system. (sb, 10/17/2010)

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