Staying Healthy in Challenging Times
By F. Afua Bromley, MSOM, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac. (NCCAOM)®
March 26, 2020
With so much news media reporting hourly about the Coronavirus Disease 2019(COVID-19), it is important for all of us to be fully informed with accurate information. Verifying sources of information is equally important. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) is the best direct resource for global and nationwide updates on viral transmissions. Johns Hopkins 1 and the Atlantic Monthly COVID-19 2 trackers are also reliable sources of data. Local health departments are the most accurate sources of local reported cases. As local authorities begin to restrict movement and business in some regions, be certain to comply with those guidelines. Here in the Saint Louis region, our own recent temporary closure in compliance with the recent “shelter-in-place” orders is our part to help slow down the spread of COVID-19.
So how do you stay healthy – body, mind, and spirit?
Some simple things will lower your risk of contracting the flu or COVID-19 (yes – flu season is still here!). Most of the symptoms of COVID-19 are the same as the flu – cough, runny nose, fever, malaise. Because of the similarities, many of the precautions/prevention measures and treatments are the same or similar. Most of what you need to know about reducing risk of contracting and/or transmitting either the flu or COVID-19 should be what you do daily. Take a deep breath and “keep it simple”:
Coronavirus and Influenza virus precautions3
- Wash your hands with soap thoroughly for at least 20 seconds and rinse completely under running water This may be the single most important precaution to prevent any type of infection. An alcohol based hand sanitizer can be used when handwashing is not possible; however, washing hands is more effective in minimizing transmission.
- Stay home if you are symptomatic and/or running a fever (perceived or confirmed by thermometer). With the shelter in place orders, minimize how often you go out to the grocery stores or other necessary errands. Moderate exercise outside is helpful in boosting your immune system – just stay away from others outside your home. If a patient has been exposed to someone with COVID-19, the CDC advises they remain quarantined for 14 days since asymptomatic transmission is possible4. This means someone could be positive for COVID-19, be contagious and actively infecting others without showing any symptoms or ever getting sick.
- Cleanliness is key! Frequently wipe down high contact common and public surfaces with a disinfectant solution. knobs, toilet and faucet handles, should be wiped down at a minimum of daily. In my home, we are using glasses once then putting them in the dishwasher.
- Cover your mouth and nose with tissue or cloth if you sneeze or cough. Then wash your hands! No need to wear a mask unless you are actively ill and around other people. Refrain from touching your eyes, nose, hands (minimize shaking hands), and mouth as these are parts of the body that are high transmission areas.
- Limit exposure to large groups of people in small spaces. Wash your hands frequently when in public spaces, no shaking hands or hugging (social distancing). Check on older friends and relatives offering to do store runs when you go. Drop off bags at the door – grandma and grandpa only need virtual hugs right now.
Other Lifestyle Prevention Measures
- Keep your immune system up!!! Get enough sleep at night, drink lots of water, create an exercise program to do indoors or outdoors as weather, meditate (guided meditations are great for stress relief). Tai chi is great for your body and mind (free online videos are plentiful).
- Stimulate your mind! Read or re-read your favorite books or new subjects. Learn a new language (free or inexpensive apps are online). Write/Draw/paint/photograph/sculpt. Call up friends, relatives or colleagues to check on them. Try to balance out how much screen time you participate in. Sitting is still the new smoking – so taking breaks even if you are working from home is important.
- Feed your body right. Lots of fruits and veggies. Minimize refined foods and sugar. Vitamin C (1000-2000 mg) 2-3 times a day. There are a number of Chinese and western herbs that can help boost your immune system. Astragalus is one of the main herbs we in East Asian medicine use to help “tonify qi” and boost the immune system. Sunshine/Vitamin D is also a big help. More to come on supplements and herbs that may help.
Rothe, C., Schunk, M., Sothmann, P., et al.(2020). Transmission of 2019-nCoV Infection from an Asymptomatic Contact in Germany. New England Journal of Medicine. January 30, 2020. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2001468