The news is now saturated with stories about the Coronavirus, but unfortunately they often focus on the sensational, emphasize the political, and promote fear instead of a logical and strategic response. We aim to do better. If you are worried about the coronavirus please read the following information and share with your friends and family.
Coronavirus danger is still low, the flu is currently a bigger risk to our community.
If you have concerns about potential exposure or illness, message your doctor directly.
Wash your hands! Facemasks should only be worn by those with a cough.
Optimize your wellness, there is no better medicine than a robust immune system.
What is the Coronavirus?
Human coronavirus is a family of viruses that cause respiratory infections (common cold), they are ubiquitous and there are innumerable variations. Almost all animals have their own unique variation, or several. When the virus jumps from one species to another it can cause severe illness because our immune systems are not familiar with the virus or how to fight it.
This variation is called the 2019 Novel Coronaviurs (2019-NCoV) outbreak, the disease it causes is called Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the medical term is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). As such you may see different acronyms being used but they are all referring to the same virus and its related illness.
The virus originated in the Wuhan region of China. It is suspected that it jumped from animal to humans, though from which animal it came is uncertain. Suspects include bats, snakes, and pangolin, consumed for food. There is a high level of confidence that it came from the live animal market.
What does it do?
In most people the virus has mild to moderate cold and flu-like symptoms. However, the virus can cause Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, especially in those with compromising medical conditions, and the elderly. This is a potentially life threatening form of pneumonia.
What are the symptoms?
The primary symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. They may be associated with body aches, fatigue, and a sore throat. Be sure to have an good thermometer at home so you can accurately tell your doctor if you have a fever.
How dangerous is it?
While the illness can be fatal it is important to note that many viral illness can be fatal, particularly in those with compromised health. Influenza is still the number one threat to your health, as far an viral respiratory diseases are concerned. CDC estimates that influenza was associated with more than 35.5 million illnesses, more than 16.5 million medical visits, 490,600 hospitalizations, and 34,200 deaths during the 2018–2019 influenza season.
COVID-19 has a fairly low mortality rate compared to other respiratory viruses, currently estimated at 1.6%. By contrast the SARS outbreak of 2002 had a mortality rate of 10%, and the MERS outbreak had an mortality rate of 34%.
What should I do if I think I may have been exposed but do not have symptoms?
If you have traveled to any of the COVID-19 hotspots (Wuhan region of China, South Korea, northern Italy, and Iran), or been in contact with anyone who has traveled to that region, you should be very mindful of any respiratory symptoms and call you doctor immediately if you have a fever and/or cough. Limit travel and exposure to other people for at least 2 weeks, maintain a distance of 6 feet when possible. COVID-19 can take up to 2 weeks to start to show symptoms and during that time you are contagious. If you are asymptomatic for 2 weeks after suspected exposure you very likely do not have the disease.
COVID-19 in people who have no identified source of contact is still extremely rare, though numbers are increasing by a very small amount daily.
What should I do if I have symptoms, could I be infected?
If you live an area of known cases, have traveled to them within the past 2 weeks, or have contact with someone who has. Even if you have even very mild symptoms (fever and cough) you should avoid leaving home and avoid contact with other people. Symptomatic people should wear a medical grade face mask to limit the spread to other people. If you need to come the the doctor's office, do not come to the clinic without first sending a message to your doctor ahead of time ahead so arrangements can be made to safely get you screened without exposing other patients. The department of health, in Washington, is now offering home testing for patients designated as high risk by their doctors. Your doctor will coordinate those testing efforts.
Symptomatic people with suspected exposure should regularly wipe down all surfaces with which they have been in contact in the last 2 weeks with bleach or peroxide wipes.
If you have no known or suspected contact with the coronavirus and you live in a place with no known coronavirus cases, it is very unlikely you have COVID-19. You very likely have the common cold or the flu, and should contact your doctor if you experience a fever, severe cough, or shortness of breath. If you come into the office with symptoms please wear a medical grade face mask and wash your hands thoroughly upon arriving. PLEASE BE AWARE WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF FACEMASKS. This is due to asymptomatic people wearing them for protection, so please bring your own if you have some. They are becoming almost impossible for us to get.
How can I decrease my chances of getting infected?
The number one things you can do is to wash your hands frequently. Wash with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds, rubbing all surfaces of your hands. Dry with a disposable paper towel. Wearing a facemask does not decrease your risk of infection, in fact it may increase it because you are touching contaminated surfaces then touching your face to adjust the mask.
Optimize your wellness! Illness thrives is a state of poor health. Be sure to focus on a plant based diet, loaded with fruits and veggies, and eat mostly whole foods made at home. Avoid refined sugar, highly processed foods and food-like substances, excess caffeine, and alcohol. Periodically check your calorie intake and be sure you are consuming an appropriate amount for your desired weight. Get at least 7.5 hours of sleep each night. Sleep in a cool, clean, quiet, and dark room. Be sure to exercise 30-60 minutes per day, moderate intensity (break a sweat at least), 5-6 days per week.
If you have chronic allergies, come see us for treatment ASAP. Chronic allergies make you more susceptible to frequent respiratory infections.
I get a lot of questions about supplements for immune health. While these can be quite helpful, they
are on the bottom of the list when compared to the previous recommendations. The number one thing, in my opinion, is maintaining optimal levels of Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is one of your primary immune system regulators. There was a small study in Japan that showed kids optimizing their vitamin D (1200 iu daily for children) had greater than 50% less incidence of flu than those who didn't. In my practice, I have seen it work wonders for those complaining of "being sick all time". If you live in the northern part of the continent, you are very likely vitamin D3 deficient if you are not already supplementing. Typical doses for those in sun deprived states range from 5,000 iu to 10,000 iu per day. Always check with your doc before taking any doses higher the 5,000 iu per day (adults) as you may need to have your levels periodically monitored. You should get your levels checked yearly, regardless of what dose you take. There is emerging evidence that high doses of Vitamin D3 should always be taken with vitamin K2. Look for products that contain both vitamins in an 1000 iu to 10 mcg ratio.
Other supplement recommendations can only be made taking your personal health history into account. If you are concerned about your immune health please set up an appointment to see your SageMED provider at your earliest convenience.
Does coming to SageMED increase my risk of infection?
We have had several patients question if they should still come for their appointments for fear of coming into contact with the coronavirus. Rest assured a well run medical center like SageMED is one of the safest places you can be, compared to most people's work environment, shopping centers, etc. The front desk will be screening and isolating any symptomatic patients, our surfaces are sanitized many times each day, and you are surrounded by healthcare professionals trained in mitigating the risk of infectious disease. It is important that you continue to take good care of your health as we face new healthcare threats on a daily basis. If you have any concerns at all about coming in, please message your SageMED provider directly for an individual and up-to-date assessment.