Coronavirus: Know your risk and how to stay healthy
Updated: Mar 5
Travel bans, stocks crashing, schools threatening to close. Are you feeling worried about this new coronavirus? And are you armed with the knowledge you need?
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the World Health Organization, said "We do not see evidence as yet that the virus is spreading freely in communities. As long as that’s the case, we still have a chance of containing this coronavirus, if robust action is taken..."
For those of us who aren't responsible for organizing the response in government agencies, travel businesses, school districts, service industries, etc here are my suggestions to take "robust action" to protect your family and community.
Most people who contract COVID-19 experience mild symptoms. According to the CDC's website, while the potential (emphasis mine) for a threat to public health is very high, "At this time, most people in the United States will have little immediate risk of exposure to this virus."
To your body, panic = stress. Hundreds of studies have shown that stress weakens your immune system. Remember that worrying about the situation can't change it, but it might increase your chances of getting sick!
As of March 2nd @ 6 a.m. central time, the mortality rate is about 3.5% worldwide and 2.3% in the U.S. (2 deaths out of 86 illnesses). The risk of death increases with age, chronic & pre-existing medical conditions, and access to care for those with severe symptoms or complications.
Pregnant women have a higher chance of becoming infected with any virus, but no deaths have been reported in pregnant women infected with COVID-19 at this time. The virus has not been found in amniotic fluid, cord blood, or newborns, possibly indicating that the virus can not pass to unborn babies. Antibodies against COVID-19 have been found in breastmilk, but there is not enough information to give a recommendation specific to this virus. Based on the wealth of information regarding the protective benefits of breastfeeding, if I were still nursing, I would continue to breastfeed, even (and especially) if I were sick. Handwashing before feeding, wearing a mask if symptoms are present, or pumping and having someone else feed the baby are excellent precautions to take.
WHY IS THE WORLD ON ALERT?
It is suspected that, in late 2019, a virus that had previously affected only animals changed in a way that allowed it to spread both to humans and between humans. That means 2 things. Firstly, our immune system can't quickly produce antibodies against this specific strain, because it hasn't encountered it before, so it may take longer and be less effective in its fight. Secondly, we don't know exactly how it will affect us, so the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control are acting and making recommendations out of an abundance of caution. We must use what we know about viruses in general to help protect ourselves while this new strain is being studied.
SYMPTOMS & TESTING
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to many other viral infections: fever, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, headaches & muscle aches. For this reason and others, it is not recommended that you seek medical attention unless you have travelled to a country where the virus is widespread (currently China, Iran, Japan, Italy, and South Korea) or you have been in close contact with someone who has a lab-confirmed infection.
Test kits are not available at your doctor's office, local hospitals, or emergency rooms, and labs will not test you for COVID-19 unless you meet certain criteria.
As with many viruses, COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets and close contact. At this time the CDC states "Nonpharmaceutical interventions would be the most important response strategy." Read on for my recommendations.
PREVENT THE SPREAD OF GERMS by practicing what you already know.
Avoid contact with people who seem sick.
Wash your hands with soap and warm water after going out in public spaces, after using the bathroom, and before eating.
If handwashing isn't available, use an antimicrobial, sanitizing gel. Cover coughs & sneezes with your elbow or a tissue, and immediately flush the tissue down the toilet if possible, or throw it away.
If you have symptoms, stay home or limit your contact with others as much as possible (moms, I know; this is a hard one for us!).
Wearing a common hospital mask will help protect others from your germs if you are sick; it will not protect you from exposure to the virus.
SUPPORT YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
See your chiropractor - Getting adjusted calms your emergency/fight or flight system and stimulates the restful part of your nervous system (the part that controls immune response, among other things). Rest - Get enough sleep most nights, and get extra rest anytime you're unwell.
Limit sugar - It weakens your immune system within 30 minutes!
Fluids - bone broth (recipe) & water
Vitamin C - bell pepper, tomatoes, strawberries, oranges, broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, kiwi, papaya, and sweet potato have AT LEAST 50% of your recommended daily intake. Eat them raw.
Vitamin D - Fish/fish oil supplements, liver, beef, and eggs are great food sources. And your body actually creates vitamin D from sunlight on your skin! So take advantage of these warmer days; get some moderate exercise outside, and benefit yourself in more ways than one.
MAKE A PLAN
If your school closes, what will you do with your little ones? What if your coworkers come to work sick? The CDC has prepared this guide to help you with these and other questions.
For current updates about coronavirus situation visit this page of the CDC website.