IT'S TIME TO TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR HEALTH.
A THREE-STEP PLAN TO REDUCE COVID-19 RISK USING NUTRITION, LIFESTYLE FACTORS, AND TARGETED NUTRACEUTICALS.
Step Three - Have a plan should you become infected.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, I remain committed to providing my patients and followers with useful and accurate information. I encourage you to use these resources to help in making informed decisions on how to go about your daily activities in a safe and healthy way. Please share with friends!
I routinely post relevant articles and information on my Facebook page. Not a Facebook member? I have made my Facebook posts available on the homepage of my website.
In conjunction with recommendations from the Institute for Functional Medicine, I have developed a three-step plan to reduce COVID-19 risk using nutrition, lifestyle factors, and targeted nutraceuticals.
- Step One - Support your immune system.
- Step Two - Reduce inflammation.
- Step Three - Have a plan should you become infected.
You can refer to Step One and Step Two in my earlier blogs. These first steps are key in reducing your risk! According to experts, this virus isn’t going away anytime soon, so I strongly encourage you to use this time to take steps to boost your immune system function and reduce inflammation in your body.
Today’s blog will highlight Step Three: Should you become ill with COVID-19 infection, don’t be caught off-guard - have a plan!
Let’s start with a brief review of terminology. The term “coronavirus” actually refers to a group of viruses that get their name because of their crown-like shape seen under a microscope. Of the known coronaviruses, 9 are known to infect humans, including the common cold. This new coronavirus at the root of the current pandemic is called SARS-CoV-2 (Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). Those infected with the virus SARS-CoV-2 may then go on to develop COVID-19 infection (Coronavirus Disease 2019).
SARS-CoV-2 is the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 infection. For simplicity's sake, I have been using the term COVID-19, which refers to infection with this new coronavirus.
Next, let’s acknowledge the fact that a majority of those who develop COVID-19 will recover without complications, and many infected by SARS-CoV-2 will never develop symptoms. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and are able to recover at home without medical care. Johns Hopkins University is among few institutions that have been tracking recovered cases as part of it’s reporting of comprehensive COVID-19 data and you can view real-time data on their public dashboard.
SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19 INFECTION
It’s important, again, to emphasize that some people infected with the virus have no symptoms, yet can still be contagious. That is why it is important to wear a mask in public!
According to Harvard Health, common COVID-19 symptoms include:
- dry cough
- loss of appetite
- loss of smell
- body ache
More severe symptoms which often indicates pneumonia may include:
- high fever
- severe cough
- shortness of breath
As new data is being collected, specific neurological and gastrointestinal symptoms have also been highlighted, which may occur with or without respiratory symptoms:
- loss of appetite
- nausea, vomiting
- abdominal pain or discomfort
- loss of smell and/or taste
- muscle weakness
- tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO DEVELOP SYMPTOMS AFTER EXPOSURE?
While the time of exposure to symptom development ranges from 2-21 days, greater than 90% of people who develop symptoms will do so within 14 days.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s start making a PLAN.
KNOW YOUR OPTIONS FOR HEALTHCARE AND TESTING
WHO IS YOUR PRIMARY CARE PROVIDER (PCP)?
You may want to check to be sure you are still considered an active patient with your PCP. I’ve had many clients report that their PCP had “dropped them” as an active patient if they had not been seen in a period of time. Become familiar with your PCP’s hours of operation and policies as they relate to COVID-19. Ask if they are willing and able to order COVID-19 testing. If you don’t currently have a PCP, establish one, or become familiar with local urgent care facilities.
A note to my patients: While I do not provide traditional Primary Care services in my office, I will be available to evaluate and prescribe COVID-19 testing when needed, and will be able to consult with patients via Tele-health during active COVID-19 infection.
WHAT TYPE OF COVID-19 TESTING IS AVAILABLE IN YOUR COMMUNITY?
This situation is rapidly evolving, so find your city or county’s health department COVID-19 website and bookmark it. Emmet and Charlevoix County residents click here.
HAVE A PLAN FOR HOME QUARANTINE
At the first sign of COVID-19 infection, a home quarantine plan is essential to reduce the risk of others in your home and to be sure that you have the supplies you need. I encourage you to talk through this first with your spouse or partner, and then second with your children. These are not fun conversations, but they are important ones. If you are able to talk openly with your family now, it will be easier to “kick into gear” should you encounter infection.
If you live with others (when possible) designate a home quarantine bedroom and bathroom. Should you become ill, this is where you should retreat at the earliest sign of illness. While this will not be possible for everyone, this room should ideally have a window for fresh air and a private bathroom nearby. Unless you require care outside of your home, you should plan to remain in this space until deemed not contagious by your healthcare provider.
ENSURE YOUR HOME IS STOCKED WITH NEEDED SUPPLIES SHOULD YOU OR A FAMILY MEMBER BECOME ILL:
- adequate amounts of surface disinfectant and laundry detergent
- extra cloth masks (these need to be washed frequently when caring for an infected person)
- a working thermometer
CONSIDER STOCKING YOUR PANTRY WITH:
- ingredients to make your own electrolyte drink for hydration (there are many recipe variations) online
- bone broth - most infected do not have much of an appetite, so think about nourishing liquids to sip on
- frozen or canned soups
I ALSO RECOMMEND YOU CONSIDER HAVING THE FOLLOWING HOME MEDICAL DEVICES AVAILABLE (ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE AT HIGH RISK):
- home nebulizer with a prescription solution or a sterile saline solution - become familiar with how to use and clean your device
- pulse oximeter to monitor oxygen saturations at home. There are a variety available on Amazon, or check out this new pulse oximeter APP. You should plan to routinely monitor blood oxygen levels if experiencing shortness of breath or respiratory symptoms. Nail polish needs to be removed for accurate results. A normal blood oxygen level via pulse oximeter is 95-100%. If your oxygen level falls below 92% you should contact your healthcare provider.
A FEW NOTES:
Thermometers are in short supply and a home nebulizer and pulse oximeter can be expensive. Nebulizers and other equipment can be ordered from a local medical supply store by your PCP should you become ill. Some feel more comfortable having on hand. You can also work with a group of families together to pool resources in a COVID-19 emergency kit or plan, with supplies being shared if needed.
I encourage you to read about the use of nebulizers in COVID-19 patients by Dr. David Brownstein at the Center for Holistic Medicine. You can find his blog here.
CHECK OUT THESE ADDITIONAL CDC RESOURCES:
WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE COVID-19
If you think that you have COVID-19, contact your PCP via phone. Only in the case of severe symptoms or emergency should you leave your home. Evaluation and testing orders should be able to be completed vis Tele-health services. Ideally, testing is done through a drive-through center or at home.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH COVID-19 AND YOU FEEL YOU NEED TO BE EVALUATED AT THE HOSPITAL
If your COVID-19 symptoms become severe, and you feel you need to be evaluated at the hospital - be prepared! Most likely, you will need to enter the hospital alone and you will not be permitted to have visitors. Plan to wear your mask and bring with you:
- a typed, accurate list of all medications and supplements - including doses and time of day you take them (having three paper copies as well as a copy on your smartphone is ideal)
- a typed identification card that includes contact information of 1-2 family members or close friends
- a copy of your signed and notarized Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will (if you don’t have these now is the time to create them)
- mobile phone and tablet or laptop for communication - don’t forget chargers!
- a bottle of Vitamin C, and any other nutritional supplements in your emergency care plan
NUTRACEUTICALS FOR USE DURING ACTIVE COVID-19 INFECTION
In my two previous blogs, I have outlined targeted nutraceuticals for support of the immune system and reduction of inflammasome activation. Several of these supplements have also been designated by the Medical Education Team of the Institute for Functional Medicine as appropriate for use during active COVID-19 infection. The choice of which and how many nutraceuticals to incorporate into your prevention plan will be different for each person. Consult a healthcare practitioner prior to use.
- For prevention, 500-1000mg daily
- During active infection, 2000-6000mg daily starting at the very first signs of illness. I recommend 1000mg per hour for up to six hours daily, reducing your dose if you develop diarrhea. Continue higher dosing for seven days.
- Choose a buffered form of Vitamin C for less stomach upset
- Vitamin C has been shown to both decrease viral growth and reduce symptoms.
- During active infection, 500-1000mg twice daily
- Curcumin has been shown to both decrease viral growth and reduce symptoms
- During active infection, 500-1000mg twice daily
- Quercetin has been shown to both decrease viral growth and reduce symptoms
ZINC (acetate, citrate, picolinate, or glycinate)
- During active infection, up to 60mg daily for seven days in the form of zinc lozenges spaced throughout the day
- Zinc has been shown to both decrease viral growth and reduce symptoms
- During active infection, 600-900mg twice daily
- NAC has been shown to reduce symptoms of respiratory infection, but not to decrease viral growth
GREE TEA OR EGCG
- 4 cups daily (green tea), 225 mg daily (EGCG)
- EGCG Has been shown to reduce symptoms of respiratory infection and decrease viral growth
- 100-150 mg orally, 2x daily
- Resveratrol has been shown to decrease viral growth but has not been shown to reduce symptoms
- 500mg orally, daily
- Elderberry has been shown to decrease viral growth but has not been shown to reduce symptoms.
- 3-20mg, taken at bedtime
- Melatonin has been shown to decrease viral growth but has not been shown to reduce symptoms
- PEA is a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory agent that has been shown to improve outcomes in acute respiratory disease and influenza.
- PEA modulates the endocannabinoid system
- Functional Medicine specialist Kara Fitzgerald, ND recommends Metagenics Hemp Advantage (with PEA): 2 caps daily for prevention, increasing to 2 caps three times per day with first symptoms. Continue for six weeks
An additional consideration perking my interest:
Specialized pro-resolving Lipid Mediators (SPMs)
- SPMs are biosynthesized from the omega-3 fatty acids. Some people cannot efficiently synthesize SPMs from omega-3 fats (think fish oil) and may benefit from taking SPMs directly
- There are a host of studies demonstrating that SPMs rapidly resolve inflammation
- Functional Medicine specialist Kara Fitzgerald, ND recommends Metagenics SPM Active: 2 caps daily for prevention, increasing to 2 caps 2-3 times daily during active infection
Please note: Due to the novelty of COVID-19, no peer-reviewed research has been published regarding the effectiveness of dietary or lifestyle interventions for its prevention or treatment. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult your healthcare provider prior to use of any nutraceutical, especially if taking prescription medication that could have potential interactions.