The CDC is responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and now detected in 60 locations internationally, including the United States. The disease it causes has been named “Coronavirus Disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
News around COVID-19 has taken the world by storm and those of us outside of China are not sure whether to panic or stay calm. It is important to remember that knowledge is power and we fight fear with facts. To date, officials have reported that most Americans are not at risk of contracting this virus.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19 ?
The majority of infected people appear to have mild infections. Reported symptoms of those infected include:
- Fever (may not be present in the young or old, or immunocompromised)
- Uncomplicated upper respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, malaise, headache, muscle aches)
- Difficulty breathing
- Mild pneumonia
- Severe pneumonia (the severe pneumonia caused by COVID-19 is now named severe acute respiratory infection – SARI)
- Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)
- Sepsis and Septic shock
- Death (certain population set)
Similar to the influenza virus, the elderly and those with underlying chronic medical conditions appear to be most at risk for serious complications and death from COVID-19. However, unlike influenza, children so far appear to be relatively protected.
The CDC also recommends that providers test for other respiratory pathogens. Because let’s face it, we’re still in the middle of flu season.
How can you protect your family from COVID-19 ?
- Wash hands frequently. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you’re sick, unless you need urgent medical attention.
- Cover your cough with your elbow or tissues. Teach your kids proper cough etiquette.
- Keep your distance. Try to stay at least 6 feet away from anyone who is obviously sick with fever and/or respiratory symptoms.
- Irrigate your nose. Options for nasal irrigation are a regular saline spray, Neti pot, and other sinus rinses like Neilmed.
- Load up on foods and spices with antiviral properties. These include coconut oil, raw garlic, oregano, ginger, kimchi and other fermented foods such as: walnut, pomegranate, green tea, apple cider vinegar, and medicinal mushrooms (shiitake, maitake, reishi, cordyceps, turkeytail).
- Eat lots of colorful fruits and vegetables. They are full of antioxidants which will destroy the free radicals that weaken our immune system and are responsible for making us feel sick when we catch a bug.
- Stay well-hydrated. Stick to water, coconut water, herbal teas, and bone broth. No soda or sugary drinks, please!
- Avoid simple sugars and processed/junk food. Keeping blood sugar levels healthy has been shown to improve immune system activity.
- Get fresh air and moderate daily exercise. Moderate exercise can boost the production of macrophages, the kind of white blood cells that “eat” bacteria and viruses.
- Get adequate sleep. An increase in sleep actually increases the number of your white blood cells.
- Minimize stress. Emotional stress creates physiological stress in our bodies that lowers our immune defenses and makes us more vulnerable to illness.