Learning to Live with COVID-19

It can be confusing that while the restrictions for the pandemic are more relaxed than ever, while at the same time the virus is now more prevalent than ever.  The County of Los Angeles has the top number of cases as a county, nationwide.  How does one interpret these disparate facts?  Remember when it first started, how frightened and cautious we were?  Well, the best strategy, for now, is to remain equally vigilant and cautious. The virus can be asymptomatically spread by simply talking with someone who does not know they have it.  I am disappointed that the wearing of masks has been turned into a political statement.  It is not political.  Wearing a mask can be a statement of your humanity. Wearing a mask is a sign that you believe in law and order…that in order for us to coexist and thrive as a people you are willing to take on the minor inconvenience of wearing a mask in order to protect your fellow human beings and your community from a potentially deadly disease. Here is a link to a video that shows Speech-Generated Oral Fluid Droplets with Laser Light Scattering, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  Masks are here to stay and enable us to live more freely.  Let’s be creative, shall we?

I am very glad to report that so far, no one from my patient community has been hospitalized.  To me, this says that working on your immune system may be having a positive effect. I have facilitated 30 people getting antibody tests.  Of those, only two were positive for antibodies.  New evidence indicates that the antibodies may be effective for approximately only three months.  Here is a visual graphic in which you can see how cautious you are being.  I was surprised to find I am in the “fairly strict” category, as I thought I was being strict.  And the reason for this is: I have been seeing a few patients in person, on a case-by-case basis.  I am keeping the number of in-person visits down to no more than 4 a day, and I still prefer to do video consultations.

Recent statistics show that positive cases and hospitalizations are occurring with increasing frequency in younger people.  This may be because younger people have been less concerned about contracting the virus, and so they have moved about more freely than older folks.  There is no hard data supporting this, however, the timing of the recent spike in cases coincides with the period immediately following the protests. While the illness will be mostly less severe in young people, unfortunately, they are more likely to spread the virus to more vulnerable people.  If you’re outside walking, try not to breathe when passing by others.

An important rule to follow: avoid groups, and places where people speak loudly.  Another underreported means of spread is through public toilets.  The virus is increasingly found in the stool of patients and can be aerosolized when an infected individual uses the toilet. So please be extra cautious when you must use a public restroom.  Wear your mask, and if there is a lid, close it before flushing.  The World Health Organization has recently added these symptoms to the list of common COVID-19 symptoms: nausea/vomiting, diarrhea in addition to: fever, dry cough, fatigue, sputum production, shortness of breath, muscle/joint pain, sore throat, headache, chills, loss of sense of smell and taste.

In addition to the functional medicine nutraceuticals I have shared with you in prior newsletters, another diet choice that is important to keep in mind is avoiding high fructose corn syrup.  Studies show that if this sugar is in your diet, it greatly increases oxidative stress, the very process that makes the illness severe.  HFCS is hidden in many foods, especially sodas, sweetened juices, and packaged foods.  No surprise--countries that allow HFCS in their foods also have the highest incidence of obesity and diabetes, two major factors that contribute to a severe COVID-19.

Despite the increasing rates, the rate of deaths has been decreasing.  This can be due to a number of factors, one f which is that doctors are learning to treat the illness better.  Dexamethasone has shown to decrease the death rate by 1 life saved of 9 critically ill.  This medication is used only for those requiring oxygen.  

Here are some key questions to ask if you or someone you love is going to the hospital:  

  1. Is your loved one being admitted to medical-surgery (which includes being on IV medication), telemetry (which involves heart and respiratory monitoring), or ICU (which involves ventilator or ECMO)?  This will give you an idea of the severity.
  2. Are they using prone positioning (lying face down) in that hospital?  This has been shown to make a big difference in the outcome overall.  This is so important, that you should call your loved ones if they’re in the hospital to confirm that this is being done.  If they are not doing it at a hospital one is considering, then go to a place that is.

I hope by now you all have a pulse oximeter for your family.  Remember that a reading of 90 or below means you need to go to the hospital.

Some have asked me what all the different names mean, so here is a breakdown of the nomenclature:
CO(corona) VI (virus) D (disease) 19 (2019, the year it was discovered)
SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) Co (corona) V (virus) -2 (the 2nd SARS virus)

It’s a race to find a good vaccine and so far, there are a few leads.  A few companies are about to go to human trials.  Until there is a good vaccine it’s up to us to reduce the spread and save lives.  If you suspect you have been exposed to someone who has the virus, you can make an appointment for a free test at:  https://covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.  Please keep in mind that the swab test is only 70% accurate, so even though the result may be negative, it is still important to practice all precautions.  If you decide to eat at a restaurant, dining al fresco (outside) is the way to go.

Infographic source: Evelin Dacker, MD via Medium

Copyright © 2020 Dr. Jeanette Ryan, DC, IFMCP, All rights reserved.
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