Things have changed fast.
With unclear directives coming from our elected leaders, many people are left with a significant “out-of-control” feeling right now. Being informed and educated can add to a sense of control, but you, like many others I have spoken with, may feel exhausted trying to keep up.
What should you do?
I am offering a summary of my understandings regarding the coronavirus as of today.
Read this newsletter and bookmark the public health websites listed here. Then take a break from the news. If you get curious about the latest information and recommendations, visit one of the bookmarked pages. I encourage you NOT to get bogged down in numbers. Instead focus on what you can do.
For information, visit:
Boulder County: https://www.bouldercounty.org/families/disease/covid-19/
Colorado Public Health: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/2019-novel-coronavirus
Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen
Ok, on to the summary…
TRANSMISSION can come from stool, respiratory droplets, and through contact with contaminated surfaces.
Viral shedding begins within 2-14 days of exposure and continues on average for 3 weeks but can continue as long as 37 days. Additionally, there is no clear understanding surrounding how long an asymptomatic carrier may be shedding virus, and it is estimated that 1 in 4 coronavirus carriers could be asymptomatic.
For these reasons, physical isolation and distancing are critical. There are several antibody tests being researched. Once we have a better understanding of how immunity is established, these tests will likely become available as home test kits.
Take home: Because you have been strictly at home with your children for 3-4 weeks without any symptoms among you does not mean that one/all of you are not carriers. Please stay at home and continue physical distancing measures when you have to be out.
Anyone can get this illness and suffer with it. That said, the affected demographics seem to be somewhat different in the US than in other countries. Some of that is because data is still coming in, and some of it likely has to do with cultural differences. Regardless, there are many variables involved.
The average age looks to be 44 years, not over 65 years as previously thought.
Younger people are getting the virus and requiring hospitalization, but in general seem to fare better than older people.
Individuals with chronic inflammatory conditions are at higher risk for a severe infection.
While most otherwise healthy people are thought to have a mild illness from this virus, it seems that even some otherwise healthy people are suffering significant symptoms over a long course.
Take home: It is safe to assume that anyone of any age is at risk and will benefit by using precautions.
SYMPTOMS at the onset of this viral infection are wide-ranging because the cellular receptor, ACEII, that the virus uses to infect a cell occurs in a variety of tissues throughout the body.
They may include:
Runny nose (Note that allergies do not occur with fever. Be suspicious of new allergies.)
Dry tickle cough is the most common.
Shortness of breath
Loss of taste/smell (this is not unique to this illness, but it can be an early sign in an otherwise asymptomatic person. Call your doctor even if you have only this symptom.)
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Body pain and muscle cramping
Fatigue, mild to severe
Take home: Visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html (bookmark this!) for steps to take if you have symptoms, including isolate in your home and call your doctor.
Keep track of your symptoms, even mild ones or ones that come and go, on a calendar.
It’s the best medicine! It is extremely important to do the following right now:
1. Physical distancing is extremely effective. Other than not being exposed, there is no proven prevention.
2. Practice Good Hygiene. Besides not touching your face and frequent hand washing with soap and water, do not wear the same clothes, cloth face mask/buff/bandana two days in a row.
The virus can live in hair, on clothing, and on other surfaces potentially for days. Soap and water, however, kills it. Practice good personal hygiene – change your clothes daily and soap up your entire body including hair on days you venture out to the grocery store.
3. Wear a mask. Public health has changed its position here, and while there is debate about semantics involved in airborne transmission, our local government is asking that we wear masks in public because there is evidence to suggest that it can further lower the curve.
While the average mask people will be wearing around cannot prevent total personal exposure to virus, it will reduce exposure as Dr. Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped stop smallpox pointed out in this interview.
More importantly, it will keep our germs to ourselves. Since we cannot know who among us is an asymptomatic carrier, and who is not, keeping our germs to ourselves is more important than ever.
4. Take Care of Yourself. Get adequate sleep, hydration, exercise, fresh air and sunshine, and have nourishing dietary habits, regular bowel movements (2-3/day) as well as strategies for emotional regulation, such as a daily mindfulness practice.
5. Take Supplements. While there are very few studies at this point on the current viral pandemic, and we are learning more daily, all of the things you might normally take during the cold and flu season to increase your resiliency against those seasonal illnesses are still relevant now, in the prevention stages. (Again, note that the only proven prevention at this time is not coming in contact with the virus.)
Common examples include vitamins C and D, Zinc, probiotics, and herbs to support immune system function.
6. Be Mindful of Your Mental Health. Click here to learn how to sit with this mental discomfort rather than ignore it in order to process your emotions during this time.
Take home: If you would like to talk more about your specific situation, you can schedule a free phone consult here.
Because of the way this illness hijacks the immune system, treatment considerations for someone isolating at home for the duration of the illness rather than in the hospital would be different than the routine cold and flu prevention supplements above.
There are no proven treatments for this virus at this time. See the CDC website, updated frequently, for the latest information on approved treatments.
Treatment is supportive, and from a naturopathic and Chinese medicine perspective, specific supportive treatment would change at the different stages of this illness based on symptoms.
If you are having symptoms, isolate in your home and please reach out to your doctor to determine how best to proceed (see CDC guidelines). General supportive measures would include:
1. HYDRATION! Stay hydrated with warm water and electrolytes.
2. Rest – but include movement, stretches and breathing exercises. Don’t just stay in bed.
3. Eat simple, easy to digest, nourishing foods such as soup.
Take home: If you are quarantined at home and wanting to discuss specific supportive treatment options, schedule a free appointment here.
The recovery process can be a long one, and symptoms can wax and wane. Relapses do occur, so it is best to take recovery slowly.
1. Let fatigue be a guide and don’t try to do too much. If you find yourself feeling great and wanting to resume exercise, let it be walking or a gentle yoga routine – nothing that would cause you to breathe heavy.
2. Hydrate, always.
3. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet (dairy, sugar, wheat free) and include lots of colorful vegetables, herbs and spices.
4. Take steam showers
5. Stay well-rested (8-10 hours at night plus an afternoon nap)
6. Manage stress with mindfulness or other strategies
Take home: If at any time your symptoms worsen, call your doctor. If you are in the middle of a slow recovery and wanting to discuss recovery strategies, schedule a free appointment here.