By Dr. Maria Gentile
The COVID-19 pandemic is like nothing else we have seen in our lifetimes. We have all been impacted by this, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless. Still, there are very important things we can do to take care of ourselves, our families and communities.
The SARS-CoV2 virus can be spread by people who have no symptoms, and this is the reason that it has spread so widely and rapidly. Some people will never show symptoms but still test positive for the virus. It is not clear how contagious the virus is in these cases. Others will be able to spread the virus extensively 1-3 days before they start to show symptoms. As a result, social distancing, quarantine and isolation are the ONLY known ways to prevent the rampant spread of the disease. A vaccine may help in the future, but for now, as difficult as it is, social distancing can absolutely save lives.
The symptom profile of COVID-19 is also evolving. The CDC lists fever, cough and shortness of breath as the hallmark symptoms, but other symptoms are less common and may occur earlier in the illness, including fatigue, body aches, sore throat, headache, chills, loss of normal sense of taste and smell, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, coughing up blood and swollen eyes (conjunctivitis).
So what if you have to go to work or shop or get out of your house for exercise? How can you keep yourself and your family safe? Good handwashing, good sanitation techniques, wearing a mask in public and avoiding touching your face are all essential steps. It is also very important to ensure that you are staying well hydrated and that you eat healthy foods with lots of antioxidant rich colorful vegetables and fruits. Avoid excessive junky-sugary foods, excessive alcohol, and vaping as these may increase your risk. Getting adequate sleep and exercise are also very important as these help your immune system stay strong.
Many health care providers are recommending daily Vitamin C, D, A, and Zinc supplementation, however dosage, timing and potential interactions with other medications should be taken into consideration. Avoidance of Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen or naproxen may be advisable in many but not all cases so you should discuss this with your healthcare provider.
Call or have a telemedicine visit with your health care provider if you think you need a test, if you’re feeling ill and need to know what to do, or if you are considering taking supplements to help boost your immune system. Most insurers are paying for these virtual visits at no expense to the patient. You can also use telemedicine visits for many other everyday health problems through at least May 31st. Check with your insurance company to see what they will pay for under their expanded COVID-19 coverage.
We’re all in this together and we’re here to help if you need us.
Dr. Maria Gentile is a board certified Osteopathic Physician with Colorado Osteopathic & Integrative Medicine Associates in NW Denver.