Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19):
How Concerned Should I Be?
Over the past week you have definitely heard about the emergence of the Coronavirus Disease 19 in California. As of this posting, California has 96 confirmed cases – with 1 confirmed death, 1 confirmed critically ill, and 1 recovered case. (live up-to-date info here). Many patients have been asking for my advice on COVID-19, how much of a concern it is and will be, and what to do.
It’s important for you to understand some basics about the illness, how to decrease your risk of contracting the virus, including ways to boost your immune system. This is another flu virus with a potentially increased rate of infection (it may actually be less than 1%) and severity for specific populations. Interestingly, children are at decreased risk due to their regular exposure to many different viruses including this one so their immune systems have adjusted to deal with this virus effectively.
My goal is to inform you but not have you worry. Taking preventative measures (continue reading), not watching the media hype, and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits are the best tools to implement.
This is a new virus, so we still have a lot to learn about it. While the calculated rate of transmission of it is slightly higher than your average flu, practicing preventive measures like good hygiene will reduce the spread of it. There are definitely things you can do to help yourself and others! While data on the death rate is variable and still being determined, I estimate that it is probably lower than the mainstream media is reporting. I have seen many different statistics on this, so it’s important to follow trusted sources and also know that the data can shift as more cases get reported. Also remember – lots of the milder cases have probably gone unreported translating into full recovery.
Who’s Most At Risk:
● Elderly persons – risk increases with age and is highest in people >65 years old
● Sick persons – people with other illnesses that weaken the immune system like diabetes, heart failure, kidney disease, or those on immunosuppressant medication
● Weakened lungs – if you are exposed to poor air quality or are a smoker, have chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or other lung related illness, you have increased risk
● Those traveling to or from the following:
○ China (Level 3 Travel Health Notice)
○ Iran (Level 3 Travel Health Notice)
○ Italy (Level 3 Travel Health Notice)
○ Japan (Level 2 Travel Health Notice)
○ South Korea (Level 3 Travel Health Notice)
● respiratory droplets found in the air, or surfaces that have been coughed or sneezed on
● close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
● touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands
● rarely, fecal contamination can be a mode of transmission
Low-grade fever and cough is the classic picture. Also possible are body aches, nasal congestion, runny nose and sore throat.
What To Do –
● Do not go into your doctor’s office without calling first. They will want to prep for your visit, and may even do a phone or telemedicine visit instead of in-person.
● You can also contact the Department of Public Health for further support and testing. San Mateo County Public Health https://www.smchealth.org/coronavirus
● Self-quarantine at home – and if you live with others, then isolate yourself in a separate room and if possible you a separate bathroom. Read more home quarantining instructions here: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/docs/COVHomeIsolation.pdf
● Wear a face mask if you are sick and around others, ie you have another person caring for you in your home. If you have difficulty breathing with a mask, then have others wear a mask when they are near you.
Shortness of breath, high fever and cough often indicating pneumonia
What to Do –
● Go to ER
What Can You Do? Preventative Measures…
● Avoid large crowds where the risk of spreading infections is higher.
● Do not expose yourself to people who are sick. A person coughing can spread the infection across 6 to 10 feet of space.
● If you have a cold or flu stay home to limit your risk of spreading the infection to others and to support the healing process.
● People may be infected, but have no symptoms for 2 to 14 days after exposure so practicing good hygiene is imperative.
Practice Good Hygiene:
#1 Wash hands – Wash frequently and for 20 seconds minimum with warm water and soap. Always wash your hands upon returning home from being out and about and before food prep.
#2 Hand Sanitizer – (if you can get it) Use this if hand washing is not an option.
#3 Do not shake people’s hands!
#4 Do not touch your face if you have been out and haven’t washed your hands! The virus can be transmitted from your hands and into your body via your eyes, nose and/ or mouth.
#5 If you have a cough or sneeze: Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. Second best, cough into your shirt sleeve. Do not cough into your hands. Always wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
#6 Food hygiene is also important. Avoid sharing water, food, or products (glasses, cutlery, hygiene products) with someone who has a respiratory infection.
#7 Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly.
Lifestyle Measures to Keep Yourself Healthy and Strong:
#3 Good nutrition – whole foods, veggies (eat the rainbow for immune support)
#4 Stay hydrated – I recommend ½ your weight in ounces
#5 Minimize stress – deep breathing or meditating
#6 Stay Calm: because stress, worry and anxiety will lower your immune system
#7 Protect Your Lungs: This virus attacks the lungs, so don’t smoke and avoid air pollution.
Immune Boosting Nutrients:
❖ Vitamin C
❖ Vitamin A
❖ Vitamin D
A Few Common Antiviral Herbs shown to inhibit coronaviruses:
❖ Garlic – Fresh-crushed garlic is an effective antiviral for the mouth, throat and lungs
❖ Licorice – Both immune boosting and antiviral
❖ Elderberry – Fantastic preventive herb against viruses, can take daily
By using these preventative strategies you and your family can get through this flu season with flying colors.
To order any of the above supplements visit my online medicinary here.
Dr. Laura Enfield, ND, LAc
Dr. Laura Enfield is a California licensed naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist. She is an expert in helping people with acute and chronic joint pain, digestive issues, fatigue, insomnia, weight gain, and thyroid issues.