The coronavirus falls into the family of the “common cold” but clearly Covid 19 is a viral strain that can be life threatening in some people. When it comes to avoiding or surviving it as well as avoid upper respiratory infections, influenza and pneumonia, we can employ three layers of protection. These are:
1. Physical distancing – this is the most important strategy. If you must have contact avoid getting no closer than 6 feet. Wear a mask.
2. Personal hygiene – washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based solution of 60% or more to cleanse the hands.
Keeping the hands away from the eyes, nose and mouth. Wearing gloves and a mask when in public – this is particularly important at the grocery store, refueling your car, etc
3. Personal health – if you do become infected with the coronavirus, you will fare better if you are as fit as possible. The following are actions you can take now to improve your odds:
Sleep: getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night is ideal. Six hours is the minimum! Inadequate sleep leads to elevated cortisol levels in the body. This stress hormone decreases immune function and makes you more susceptible to infection and predisposes you to a poor outcome.
Exercising: aerobically exercise for 30 minutes per day improves immune function.
Nutrition: plays a very important role in your immune function. Sugar and processed carbohydrates suppress the innate and adaptive immune response. This is especially critical for people that have obesity, diabetes or advanced age. Keep sugar intake to less than 25 g or less per day and eliminate processed carbs such as crackers chips breads and flour.
Emotional well-being: this is especially important with the fear and isolation created by the pandemic. Both can lead to increased cortisol levels which decreases immune function. Staying in contact with family and friends by telephone, video conferencing and social media can be very helpful. Also, using this down time to focus on a new hobby or acquire a new skill such as learning a new language can give you a sense of purpose.
Modifiable chronic conditions:
1. Smoking – stop now!
2. Asthma, emphysema or COPD – work with your doctor to make sure your inhaler regimen is optimized.
3. Obesity – start a supervised lifestyle changes immediately
4. Depression/Anxiety- seek help now and start supervised exercise program.
The above measures are the most critical and will have the greatest impact on keeping you well. In addition, consider supplementation with the following. All of these are safe and their effectiveness in preventing or treating upper respiratory viral infections is backed by high quality studies. Taking them does not guarantee you won’t get the coronavirus, but they may help.
● Vitamin D
○ People with normal levels are at decreased risk of upper respiratory infections
○ Dose: 2000 I.U. per day
● Vitamin C
○ Can reduce duration of symptoms
○ Dose: 500- 1000 mg/day
○ Shown to reduce duration of common cold.by up to 33%
○ Must start before or within 24 hours of symptoms
○ Dose: 20 mg/day
○ Dose: 2400 mg/day for prevention or 4000 mg/day if infected.
○ Dose: 2.5 grams/day. Maintenance dose before getting sick.
○ Found to reduce Upper Resp. Infections by 33% and duration by 40%
○ Found in Colorful vegetables & fruits
Be safe, stay well and reach out if I can help,
David R. Miloy MD