With the recent declaration by the World Health Organization that COVID-19 is considered a global pandemic, many are worrying about how to stay healthy. Because it has been a decade since the last pandemic in 2009 with the H1N1 virus, many don’t know what to do. Thankfully, staying healthy is relatively simple.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is a respiratory illness spread much like the common cold or the flu. It spreads via respiratory drops from coughing or sneezing.
Coronavirus has been known in animals for years, however much like the avian and swine flu from years past, a new strain has made the jump to humans. The first cases were seen in Wuhan, China, but it has spread to over 114 countries as of the time of writing.
As a respiratory illness, most people will see symptoms similar to a common cold, with a dry cough being one of the most identifying symptoms. Most people begin experiencing symptoms 5 days post-exposure. The symptoms also include:
- A runny nose,
- Dry cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- And other similarities to the common cold.
It can develop into more serious symptoms including pneumonia which can prove fatal. This is most common in people over 50 and those with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, respiratory disease, or heart conditions.
Who is Most at Risk?
Like the flu, the most at risk are the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and those with conditions that could make the symptoms worse. Many who have died had respiratory problems before infection that made them less able to fight it off.
There haven’t been many reports of COVID-19 affecting children, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, particularly with infants. Everyone should still be trying to avoid the disease since it spreads so easily and is such a problem for elderly people.
How to Stay Healthy?
Most of the tips are the same as the flu. Wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitizer. Always cough or sneeze into your elbow. Wear a mask to help reduce transmission, just be sure to get one meant for preventing the spread of respiratory illness.
If you feel sick at all, stay home. Self-isolation is one of the best ways to stop a pandemic. Keep your trips to essentials, buy online where possible, and don’t go to restaurants or other public places. If your job offers work from home, be sure to take it.
Much like the flu, you can also work on your immune system to prevent yourself from becoming sick. A healthy, varied diet is the biggest way to support your immune system.
Fresh fruits to give you important vitamins like vitamin C is a great immune booster. Both garlic and oregano are also noted as being good for boosting your immune system.
All nutrients are best derived from food, but some can only be obtained in your diet. Selenium is important for many functions in the body and may help fight off viral infections. However, it can only be obtained from seafood, meat, and Brazil nuts.
If fresh food is hard to get, or you just want to be sure you’re getting what you need, supplements can be helpful. The main issues with supplements are that they don’t absorb as quickly as vitamins you get from food and it’s much easier to consume too much of a vitamin or mineral with supplements.
Always follow package directions when picking your supplements and be sure you’re buying a high-quality supplement to be sure you’re getting the most benefit. Also, talk with your doctor before taking any supplement since they can interfere with other medications. For instance, vitamin C can affect absorption rates.
The first category of supplements are ones where you either don’t like the food that gives the vitamin or if it’s hard to get in your area.
- Garlic and Oregano – Both garlic and oregano can be taken in supplement form if you either don’t like the taste or just find it hard to get enough in your diet.
- Vitamin C and Zinc are both known as immune boosters and are available in most supplement aisles and in many mixes meant for immune health.
- Vitamin D. Some supplements you might not think of for immune health are Vitamin D, which goes down in winter in northern areas. Vitamin D can not only boost your immune system, but it also functions as a regulator that can prevent overreactions.
- Vitamin E. Along with its anti-aging benefits, vitamin E supplements have been shown to support the immune system, prevent inflammation and coronary heart disease, and reduce the risk of cancer.
- Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that plays a vital role in immune health. It may help reduce asthma symptoms as well as the odds of certain types of cancers. You can buy it in capsule or tablet form.
- Probiotics are live microorganisms (good bacteria) that provide benefits to the body to keep you healthy. These can be obtained through food or supplements.
- N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is an antioxidant that can be taken as a nutritional supplement to help relieve the symptoms of respiratory ailments. It also aids in liver and kidney detoxification.
- Chlorella. You can buy either capsules or powder made of Chlorella algae. It’s high in protein and nutrients and can easily be added to smoothies for a boost of antioxidants.
- Ginseng. Another good option is the classic ginseng.
What to Do if You Get Sick
If you do catch an illness despite your best efforts, the biggest thing to do is stay home. Have everything you need stocked up beforehand. You’ll mainly need tissues, hand sanitizers, disinfectant products, and soap to help prevent others from catching it.
Also, make sure you have easy-to-prepare food stocked up like canned food, frozen meals and vegetables, as well as basic staples like beans and rice that don’t go bad quickly. Try to avoid leaving your home so you don’t spread your illness around.
While pandemics are worrying, you can still protect yourself and others by following health guidelines and listening to health authorities. Avoid public places and wash your hands regularly to keep yourself and others safe.