Here’s how to protect yourself against viruses like colds, flu and COVID-19, a symptom-based strategy.
We’re entering the cold and flu season in conjunction with a potential “second wave” of the coronavirus. The “second wave” is because we are going back indoors as the season gets colder. Enclosed spaces increase risk of transmission of any viral illness.
This fact concerns many of our patients, who are asking us, “What can we do about it?” and “Should I be afraid?” and “How dangerous is the COVID-19 coronavirus?” As a former emergency room provider who has stared down some of the worst viruses, I learned that taking protective measures is the best line of defense against colds, flu and other viruses like the coronaviruses.
In this blog, I’ll share the best steps to take to arm your immune system and other common-sense measures to help minimize your chance of contracting any virus today and in the future.
None of the following information should be considered to be medical advice for anyone with whom I have not established a health care provider-patient relationship as required by law and medically ethical practice guidelines.
My Best Word Of Advice: Don’t Be Afraid!
I can’t stress this strongly enough: Please don’t steep yourself in fear. While it’s true that the coronavirus is a highly contagious virus, and I certainly don’t want to make light of it, the recovery rate is incredibly high. According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been 10,023,276 reported cases of COVID-19 and 237,760 confirmed deaths in the United States as of November 9, 2020.
Taken at face value, those numbers may sound scary. However, if you take a hard look at the COVID-19 data, and the fact that the scientific community strongly believes cases have been grossly underreported, things don’t look quite as grim in regard to risk for death, which is much, much lower than you might think.
In reviewing COVID-19 epidemiological models developed by prominent research groups, two models (The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)) conservatively estimate the true number of infections to be double that of confirmed cases. The Imperial College of London (ICL) model estimates the number to be almost three times as high, while a fourth model, Youyang Gu (YYG), suggests the number of infections may be more than six times higher in the United States.
Why Is A Higher Number Of COVID-19 Infections A Good Thing?
It means the recovery rate from the virus is higher too. Based on the straight numbers from Johns Hopkins, nearly 97% of people have recovered from the virus. Now, if in fact the number of cases is double (as IHME and LSHTM estimate), the recovery rate rises to nearly 98.8%. At six times the confirmed number of cases (YYG estimate), the recovery rate rises to 99.6%.
Compare that to the flu, where according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there were 38,000,000 confirmed cases and 22,000 deaths during the 2019-20 flu season, or a 94% recovery rate. (Keep in mind, some flu strains are more deadly than others, so recovery rates vary.)
My message to you is this: Even if you do become infected with the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), your prognosis is terrific. That’s why I encourage you to set fears aside and take protective measures instead. As I noted previously, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is no joke, and we shouldn’t take it lightly. I’ve personally had friends and known people with COVID-19, and it can make some people very sick with severe symptoms of COVID-19, and like the flu, lead to death.
Here’s The Good News: We Can take Steps To Protect Ourselves From contracting The Virus And Even Minimize Symptoms If We Do Become Infected With COVID-19.
The Best First Step? Give Your Immune System A Fighting Chance.
We all know that living a healthy lifestyle goes a long way when it comes to immunity, right? That includes eating plenty of fruits and veggies, ditching sugar and saturated fats, exercising regularly and getting plenty of sleep. However, healthy living isn’t always enough, especially as we get into our 40s, 50s and beyond.
I often recommend my patients take nutritional supplements to compensate for deficiencies in important immune boosting nutrients and antioxidants that come with age.
What’s interesting is that recent research has shown that many of these nutrients may also play a protective role against the symptoms of COVID-19, meaning even if you contract the virus your symptoms may be minimal or less severe. My top immune support supplements include:
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C): 1000-2000 MG/Day | 2000-4000 MG/Day Minimum When Ill And During Cold And Flu Season
In the heat of cold and flu season and the second wave of the novel coronavirus, ask your practitioner about upping your daily dose of vitamin C to tap into its antioxidant and antiviral properties. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals and reactive oxygen species that wreak havoc on our biological systems (including the immune system). This is important in light of viruses like the flu and COVID-19, which often attack the lungs.
Antioxidants like vitamin C help decrease inflammasome production in the lungs, which left unchecked can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), one of the most severe and deadly symptoms of COVID-19. The higher 2000-4000 mg dosage has been theorized to prevent the replication of coronavirus in the lungs, while helping to increase T-lymphocyte counts (the soldiers of our immune system) to mount a fight against viral illnesses.
Melatonin: 1-5 MG Before Bedtime Daily | Larger Doses When Ill (Ask Your Practitioner)
Speaking of antioxidants…Melatonin is actually a hormone and has been called the most powerful antioxidant known to mankind. While our bodies do produce melatonin naturally, like all hormones most people produce less melatonin as they age, which is why I advise many of my patients to take a daily melatonin supplement.
While most people think of melatonin as a sleep aid, it’s not that simple. Darkness actually triggers melatonin production (not sleep), which is why night shift workers have trouble getting enough restful sleep, and why we should all keep electronic devices turned off in the bedroom.
Along with the many benefits melatonin provides (anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, immune regulation and more), melatonin plays a vital role in warding off ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) in patients with COVID-19. This may explain why children and pregnant women, who both produce considerably more melatonin than older adults—are less likely to get very ill from the coronavirus.
As I noted in my immune boosting tips blog this past spring, melatonin has been shown to positively impact the coronavirus inflammasome — a protein that activates the negative side of our immune system. Specifically, melatonin helps mitigate the inflammasome that causes the ARDS related to COVID-19 (coronavirus disease). Maintaining melatonin levels is a must. Learn more about the benefits of melatonin and why it’s needed for MORE than sleep here.
Vitamin D3: 10,000 IU/Day Adults Minimum | 2000-5000 IU/Day Children
While the sun is one of the best sources of vitamin D, most people spend less time outdoors during the winter months—AKA, the cold and flu season. Numerous studies have shown that vitamin D helps support a healthy respiratory system and protect against acute respiratory infections like ARDS and pneumonia. Other research suggests that vitamin D may also help mitigate symptoms of the flu and other influenza-like illnesses.
Glutathione (Vitamin D’s BFF): Doses Vary
Another powerful antioxidant, glutathione helps remove toxins from the body and protect cells from free radical damage and aging. Like melatonin, glutathione reserves deplete as we age and battle illness. Recent research also revealed that glutathione deficiency is common in people with the known comorbidities for COVID-19 (age 65+, male, cigarette smokers, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, chronic lung disease, cancer and liver disease).
People with these comorbidities are also at highest risk for a severe course of the virus, including ARDS, multi-organ failure and death. In addition, glutathione plays a key role in the biosynthesis of vitamin D, working hand in hand with glutathione to stave off inflammation in the lungs and ward off viral threats like COVID-19.
Zinc: 24 MG/Day
Numerous studies support the antiviral benefits of zinc, a trace mineral that plays an important role in growth, development and immune function. Zinc deficiency is also quite common, with lifestyle, age and disease as known contributing factors.
Check out my immune support tips blog for additional insight on viral immunity and the benefits of other nutrients, including vitamins A, K2 and the mineral magnesium.
Another good step?
Use common sense to avoid infectious disease and viruses like the common cold, flu and COVID-19. Diligent hand washing, disinfecting of surfaces and social distancing can help protect you from getting sick.
In my 20 plus years as a healthcare practitioner, I have rarely gotten sick. Even during the years I worked as an emergency room nurse, where I diagnosed over 200 cases of the swine flu and untold numbers of flu A, flu B, the bird flu and other viruses, I didn’t get sick.
Why? Along with taking vitamins and other nutrients to protect my body, I primarily attribute my good health to diligent hand washing.
We’ve practiced this in clinical settings for decades and it works. It’s also no coincidence that hand washing is one of the primary recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for combatting viruses like the novel coronavirus, flu and common cold.
Even with “clean” hands, it’s also critically important to keep your hands off of your face, as germs and viruses tend to enter the body through our eyes, nose and mouth.
Another common sense tip, also recommended by the CDC, is to be diligent about disinfecting surfaces in your home and workplace to prevent virus spread — and don’t forget your cell phone!
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, viruses like the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) can remain infectious on surfaces for hours and even days, depending on the type of surface. Along with your phone, be sure to regularly clean and disinfect door knobs, light switches, tables/counters, faucets, sinks, toilets, desks, keyboards, handles on appliances and cupboards.You’ll find the search tool for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of approved disinfectants for COVID-19 here.
Social distancing is the practice of maintaining 6-feet of distance between yourself and others and can also help mitigate virus spread. As the CDC explains, “COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) for a prolonged period. Spread happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, and droplets from their mouth or nose are launched into the air and land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. The droplets can also be inhaled into the lungs.”
That’s why caregivers and family members are more likely to contract the virus from someone who is ill than be infected by a stranger they pass on the street. It’s also why you shouldn’t be afraid to go to the grocery store, as long as you keep your distance from others and follow diligent hand washing and disinfecting COVID-19 protocols.
Your EVEXIAS Practitioners Are Here To Help Keep Your Immune System Strong!
When will the COVID-19 virus end? That remains to be seen, but I’m hopeful that protective measures will help us round the bend. If you’d like to speak with someone about your health concerns or learn more about nutritional supplements, contact us.
EVEXIAS offers oral nutraceuticals as well as intravenous (IV) nutrition to help strengthen and reinforce your immune system, including our popular immune boost and cold and flu IV therapies.