What to Do About the Coronavirus
We recently got a frantic call from a patient. From her ragged breathing and racing dialog, it was clear that she was close to having a panic attack. After she was instructed to take a few deep breaths, she calmed down somewhat and got to the reason for her call. She had just learned that 3 children at her daughter’s school in Southern California had visited China, and she wanted to know if she should rush over there immediately and pull her own child out of school.
She isn’t the only one freaking out about the coronavirus. On January 31, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the virus a public health emergency here in the states.
So what should you do?
What is the Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a common group of viruses that can cause an infection in the nose, sinuses, or throat. Some coronaviruses are mild and simply produce symptoms often seen in the common cold, such as a runny nose, sore throat, and fever. Other types are far more severe and can lead to pneumonia and early death. You may remember the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses that killed hundreds of people.
In early 2020, the World Health Organization identified a deadly new strain of the virus, the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), also referred to as the Wuhan coronavirus. To date, over 560 people have perished and over 28,000 have contracted the disease, mainly in China where the government has ordered a lockdown on about 60 million people. The illness has already spread to 25 countries, including the U.S. where at least a dozen cases have been confirmed so far.
The new coronavirus is transmitted from human to human and symptoms can appear within a couple of days or up to 14 days from the time of exposure. The symptoms of this coronavirus include the typical cold-like symptoms, and can also include shortness of breath, cough, and fever. Most people experience mild symptoms and recover, but others develop lethal complications.
How to Help Prevent Contracting the coronavirus
Whenever there’s a potential pandemic, it’s a good idea to know the basics of preventive measures you can take. Here are 3 strategies that can shore up your immune system to help you fight off the virus in case you are exposed to it.
1. Lower your stress.
Freaking out about a potential pandemic raises stress levels, which actually hurts your immune system and makes you more vulnerable to infections. Techniques to soothe stress include laughter, diaphragmatic breathing, prayer or meditation, listening to calming music, warming your hands with your mind, hypnosis and guided imagery, and flooding your 5 senses with positivity.
2. Eat foods that boost the immune system.
Foods that are natural immunity boosters include onions, mushrooms (shiitake, white button, portabella), garlic, vitamin C-rich foods (oranges, berries, peppers, dark leafy green vegetables), vitamin D-rich foods (fatty fish, eggs, tuna), zinc-rich foods (oysters, beef, lamb, spinach, asparagus, sesame and pumpkin seeds), and selenium-rich foods (Brazil nuts, seeds, grass-fed meats).
3. Take nutraceuticals that boost immunity and stave off infections.
In general, everyone should start taking a multivitamin, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D whether you are healthy or not. Only about 25% of the U.S. population has healthy levels of vitamin D. Get yours checked and optimize your levels if necessary.
Work with an integrative practitioner to determine other supplements and nutrients from the following list that enhance immunity:
- Therapeutic mushrooms
- Aged garlic
- Anthocyanins—fruit and vegetable extracts, blueberries, cranberries, grapes
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
What if you (or a loved one) develop symptoms?
See an integrative medicine, also known as functional medicine, doctor immediately if you develop symptoms and suspect you may have been exposed to the virus. Experts are currently working on a vaccine, but as of yet, there is no known treatment for coronaviruses. Most people recover on their own. To treat symptoms, drink lots of water, rest, and take pain or fever reducers if necessary.
At Amen Clinics, our Integrative Medicine physicians treat complex conditions and make recommendations for pro-active therapies to enhance the immune system. If you are having physical or psychiatric symptoms that aren’t improving with traditional treatment, it’s important to get a comprehensive evaluation that includes brain imaging and sophisticated lab testing to identify any underlying infections. Speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.