It’s hard to miss the headlines about the novel coronavirus called COVID-19. But do you know how the virus originated, who’s at risk, and most importantly, what you can do to prevent getting sick?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China, and linked to a live animal market. The official name of the disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, “CO” stands for corona, “VI” for virus, and “D” for disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. COVID-19 is a new disease not previously seen in humans, and one of many types of human coronaviruses, including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses.
Rarely do coronaviruses that began in animals spread to people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated in animals and then spread to people.
Because COVID-19 is a new virus, not a lot is known about how it’s spread or who it’s most likely to make sick, though some trends are occurring.
- COVID-19 appears to be spreading from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), and through respiratory droplets produced when someone infected with the virus coughs or sneezes.
- Scientists think people are most contagious when they are the sickest (running a fever, coughing or sneezing). It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
In most cases, symptoms appear 2-14 days after exposure and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Some people may only experience mild symptoms, while others, especially older adults or persons with compromised immune systems, COVID-19 can be very serious, even resulting in death.
Anyone experiencing symptoms should isolate themselves from others to avoid infecting anyone else. Seek medical help, but be sure to alert the medical team of symptoms and the possibility that you’ve been infected (recent contact with someone else who has the virus or travel to an area where the virus is spreading). If you have a face mask, be sure to wear it to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Health experts say the best way to prevent the illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus, but that can be difficult in a busy, busy world. The CDC recommends the following to prevent the illness:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- When greeting someone, don’t shake hands or hug.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
General immune system health also is very important in warding off the COVID-19 virus, as well as seasonal colds and the flu.
5 ways you can strengthen your immune system
News reports of the COVID-19 virus are stressful for everyone, but reducing your stress can lower your risk for illness and improve the immune system’s ability to fight off infections. Proven stress reducers include exercise, such as walking, jogging and yoga; meditation and deep breathing; and massage, among others.
Get Some Shut-Eye
Get plenty of sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep or the sleep you do get is of poor quality, your immune system is weakened. To promote healthy sleep, avoid eating or exercising close to bedtime, keep your bedroom well-ventilated, and go to bed around the same time every day. If you suffer from a sleep disorder, be sure to talk with your health care provider about diagnosis and treatment.
A healthy diet is one of your best defenses against illness. Avoid snack foods and sugary drinks. They are typically filled with fat and calories and have little nutritional value. Instead, choose fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, healthy fats (like olive oil), and beverages such as water and green tea.
Supplement Your Diet
While a healthy diet usually provides all the necessary immune-boosting vitamins and minerals your body needs, certain health conditions can hinder the body’s ability to fully absorb these nutrients. Talk to your doctor to determine if dietary supplements can help you ward off viral infections. Common supplements include echinacea, goldenseal, ginger, zinc and vitamin C.
Regular Infrared Sauna Use
Infrared therapy stimulates the circulatory system, causing the heart to beat more vigorously and blood vessels to dilate, which help cleanse the circulatory system and more fully oxygenate the body’s cells. Better blood circulation means more toxins flow from the cellular level to the skin’s surface to improve cell health, aid in muscle recovery and strengthen the immune system by raising core body temperature.
Raising core body temperature is key. Although infrared saunas heat you up differently than a fever, the increased body temperature provides the same benefits, including white blood cell and T-cell production to ward off viruses. Infrared saunas are the only ones to have been proven to raise core body temperature by 3 degrees.
A NASA study showed that near-infrared therapy, delivered by LEDs deep into body tissue, can quadruple cell health and tissue growth.¹ Several studies have shown that LEDs (like those found in our mPulse saunas) stimulate white blood cell production and collagen growth by increasing energy at the cellular level.
From a more general perspective, an Austrian study of 25 healthy subjects who regularly used saunas found they had significantly fewer episodes of common colds than those who did not. This benefit becomes more significant, especially after 14 weeks of consecutive sauna use. To fully experience the immune-strengthening benefits of a sauna, it’s recommended to use it at least twice a week throughout the year.
While there is no treatment for COVID-19, avoiding people who are sick, washing your hands, trying to not touch your face and keeping your immune system in top shape are some of the best ways to stay healthy.
For more information on COVID-19, check out this blog from Wendy Myers, FDN-P, a heavy metals detox expert, functional diagnostic nutritionist and founder of Myersdetox.com.