It is impossible to escape the daily barrage of information (and mis-information) surrounding the recent awareness of COVID-19. In an attempt to provide you some concrete steps you can take in order to safeguard yourself and your loved ones, here is some information and strategies you can use based on the data that is available to date:
How COVID-19 is Transmitted
COVID-19 can be spread from close or direct personal contact, mainly through the small droplets that are produced via sneezing and/or coughing. It can also be spread when these droplets are transmitted to a hard surface that is then touched by someone else. It is estimated that the virus can remain active for 2-48 hours on hard surfaces.
However, this is a respiratory virus and thus, it is thought that infection can only occur if the virus reaches a person’s mucus membranes (i.e., mouth, nose, eyes, lungs). Thus, distancing yourself from people that are actively coughing and/or sneezing as well as avoiding hand to face contact is thought to dramatically reduce the chance of infection.
Unless you are sick, wearing a surgical mask is unlikely to help reduce your chance of infection. If you are sick, wearing a mask is advisable, as it can catch and capture the tiny droplets produced when you cough or sneeze that can transmit the virus.
Symptoms are similar to other acute upper respiratory viruses and include fever, cough (often a dry cough) and shortness of breath. Just because you have these symptoms does NOT mean you have COVID-19 and even if you do have COVID-19, the probability is that the symptoms will be mild and your immune system will fight it off within 2-14 days. If your symptoms worsen and/or your immune system is compromised, seeking medical attention is advised.
Strategies to Reduce Infection
In addition, there are several other things that you can do to reduce your risk of infection:
- Wash your hands – often. I know you’ve heard it one thousand times, but thoroughly washing your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is an effective strategy to limit your exposure to the virus (it will also help minimize your exposure to the flu). If you can’t wash your hands, using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% isopropyl alcohol will help kill the virus.
If you don’t have or can’t find any hand sanitizer, make your own by mixing about 2/3 cup rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) with 1/3 cup aloe vera gel.
- Disinfect. Disinfecting hard surfaces will also help. Spray or wipe down hard surfaces (like doorknobs, toilets, countertops, etc.) with disinfecting wipes, a disinfecting solution or make your own by combining 1-part liquid bleach with 50 parts water. NOTE: this is a mild bleach solution and it will discolor fabrics, so limit its use to hard surfaces.
- Stay hydrated. In order for a virus to cause infection, it must be able to adhere to and cross the respiratory membrane. That is easier to do if you are dehydrated, so make sure and drink about ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day, consuming about 2-4 ounces of water every 20-30 minutes while awake.
- Stay home if you’re sick. Just like with other viruses, transmission is mainly through personal contact. Thus if you’re sick, it’s best to stay home and let your immune system do its job. Get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and give your body the time it needs to recuperate.
- Support optimal immune function. Several
supplements will help support optimal immune function and improve your body’s
ability to fight off viral infections including:
- Vitamin D3 – get your blood levels checked and aim for a blood level of 60 ng/ml. Most adults will need to take 4000-8000 IU/day; kids will need 1000-2000 IU/day.
- Vitamin A – vitamin A helps support healthy respiratory function and has been shown to help the body combat respiratory infections. A therapeutic dose is usually between 10,000-25,000 IU/day.
- Vitamin C – research over the years consistently shows that adequate amounts of vitamin C help the body resist and fight off infections. Most studies indicate daily dosing between 1000-6000 mg will help.
- Zinc – zinc helps improve immune function and the body’s ability to fight off infections, especially viral infections; most people will need 25-75 mg/day.
- Mushroom extracts – certain mushroom extracts, including Reishi, Shiitake and Cordyceps, have been shown to improve immune function.
We use and recommend a formula called Immune Support from Nutri-Dyn, as it contains a synergistic blend of vitamins C, D, zinc and mushroom extracts to provide foundational immune support; we recommend 3-4 capsules/day with meals in divided doses. In addition, I personally take supplemental Vitamin D (8000 IU/day) and Vitamin A (15,000 IU/day) to support my immune health.
The good news is that COVID-19 does not appear to be particularly harmful to children or those with healthy immune function. Of the cases reported thus far, those that are most adversely affected are the elderly, particularly those with compromised immune function (i.e., known respiratory or cardiovascular conditions as well as diabetes). What this means is that by taking the steps above, the probability that you will either avoid infection altogether or have mild symptoms if you are infected is very high.