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COVID-19 Prevention Strategies

Updated: Apr 4

Our latest Global Pandemic has necessitated a focus on prevention. I have reviewed the latest medical evidence and synthesized this resource to help my patients and followers prevent the contraction and spread of COVID-19. We will make an effort to keep this information current as new developments unfold. UPDATE: The CDC recommends wearing masks while in public.

I hope you find it informative and helpful in the effort to keep yourself and your family safe and well through this viral pandemic.

This information is not to be confused for Medical Advice. Please consult with your provider for personalized risk assessment and medical guidance.

We’ll start out with the most common symptoms of CoVID 19:

  • change in sense of taste or smell

  • fever

  • fatigue

  • dry cough

  • decreased appetite

  • muscle soreness

  • shortness of breath


In more severe cases requiring early medical attention, a productive cough with pneumonia develops.  


Less common symptoms include:

  • headache

  • sore throat

  • runny nose.  

Uncommon symptoms include:

  • nausea

  • diarrhea


It is important to note that contagious carriers of the virus may be without symptoms for 4 days to 2 weeks after exposure.

Transmission should be considered to be airborne - as in breathing the same air as an infected person.   The virus is also spread through respiratory droplet as in the fine mist that results from a cough or sneeze. The virus is also shed in stool and can be transmitted through contact with infected surfaces where the virus can remain actively contagious for up to 6-9 days unless disinfected. If you believe you or a loved one may have symptoms related to COVID 19, you should call your provider or local county health department for evaluation.

Next, I’ll cover who is susceptible and discuss risk factors starting with non-modifiable risk factors.

Non-modifiable risk factors are those you cannot change:


  • Males seem to be more susceptible than females.  

  • Pregnant women seem to be more susceptible as well.

  • The virus seems to infect primarily those between the ages of 30-79, especially 49-56.  

  • Symptomatic infection in children is uncommon, although they should be considered likely carriers.

  • The elderly (70 and above are highly susceptible and associated with worse outcomes)

  • Those with underlying chronic lung conditions, obesity, uncontrolled diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are more susceptible.

  • The immunocompromised are at the highest risk including those on immunosuppressants or corticosteroids such as transplant recipients and cancer patients with recent chemotherapy.


Now for the modifiable risk factors-these are risk factors that could be reduced by making a lifestyle change:

  • Smokers are at a particularly high risk and could drastically reduce their risk quickly by quitting.

  • Those with chronic disease could reduce their risk by getting healthier and reversing chronic disease with lifestyle Medicine.  

  • Common reversible conditions include overweight and obesity, heart disease and hypertension, along with prediabetes  and type 2 diabetes.

  • Those that are malnourished also have a lowered immune system and therefore at an increased risk as well.

The good news is that 80% of cases are mild, similar to a cold or mild flu.  The danger lies in those with mild, or without symptoms transmitting it to and his or her surrounding community, an elderly, immunocompromised, or otherwise high-risk family member.


Family Prevention Strategies in 3 sections:

  • Wash

  • Disinfect

  • Immune Boosters.

WASH:

It is a good idea to be more mindful about diligent hand washing particularly after exposure to public spaces.  Hand sanitizer can be used as a quick convenient alternative if your hands are not visibly dirty.  Make sure the product you use has at least 60% alcohol.  Most commercially available products do.


It’s a good idea to remind yourself and family to wash or sanitize your hands before or immediately after entering personal spaces where you spend most of your time such as your home, car, and office.

It is always a good idea to cover your cough or sneeze and avoid contact and breathing the same air as those showing symptoms.

It’s also a good idea to avoid touching your eyes nose or mouth while you’re outside the home or at the very least wash your hands before and after touching your face. The reason that is important is because the virus can be transmitted from your hands into a mucous membrane portal of entry on your face.



DISINFECT:

Clean and disinfect objects, surfaces, and devices you frequently touch throughout the day Including but not limited to tables, countertops, doorknobs, handles, light switches your phone, computers, tablets, remotes, desks,  toilets and faucet handles.  

Cleaning and disinfecting your floors more frequently may also reduce your family’s risk.

You may consider adopting a shoes off in the house policy and containing your shoes worn outside the house in a mudroom or garage.  This may be especially important if you have young children with frequent contact with the floor.

Also consider replacing or washing household hand towels more frequently such as daily, or switching to paper towels temporarily.



IMMUNE BOOSTERS:

Items on this list will boost your immune system and may prevent or reduce the duration and severity of any viral infection.

1. Moderate exercise may boost immunity to viruses! - you may be tempted to stay inside your house, but indoor air quality is often much worse and keep in mind that UV rays from the sun kill viruses on surfaces exposed to sunlight.  Go Outside! Remember to avoid crowded outdoor spaces and practice physical distancing (minimum of 6 feet) from those outside your household.

2. Stress less!  Stress can lower your immune system, so make sure to do plenty of stress-reducing activities such as: listening to your favorite music, dancing, exercising, meditation, stretching, and yoga.  Get creative with arts & crafts, make time to laugh by watching your favorite comedian, get a massage, or try journaling. Avoid the temptation to relieve stress with counterproductive coping mechanisms such as: alcohol consumption and consuming refined sweeteners, sugars, and syrups.  These products actually compromise your immune system for hours after consumption.



3. Choose more fruits and vegetables!  Berries, tomatoes, leafy greens, seeds, and other vegetables contain high levels of antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that naturally boost your immune system!


  • Eat more garlic (fresh is best) garlic has antiviral properties!

  • Drink green tea 2-3 cups per day - it has been shown to protect from virus transmission, even when simply gargled.

  • Fermented foods may boost the immune system by increasing the number and diversity of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.

  • Sprinkle nutritional yeast, turmeric, and oregano to add an antiviral boost to any dish.

  • Add mushrooms to your favorite dishes, shiitake may be the most potent antiviral.

  • Supplements that may boost your immune system include: probiotics, echinacea, vitamin C, and zinc.

  • Know your vitamin D level:  an adequate Vitamin D level is important for optimal immune function.

  • Make more time to sleep for optimal immune function. 7-8 hours is best.

In conclusion, clean more, go outside, stress less, eat lots of healthy fruits and vegetables, and ensure adequate sleep.  

Remember that 80% of cases are mild but to limit or avoid exposure to people outside your household and protect those that are more susceptible.


COVID-19 Vocabulary:

  • Quarantine: the separation of people, animals, or goods after exposure to a pathogen to contain the spread of the infection. This term has been widely mis-used by the media and public to include healthy people practicing social (physical) distancing and shelter in place. The key is that quarantining is for the ill and exposed to prevent the spread.


  • Social Distancing: deliberately increasing the space between people to avoid spreading illness. Keeping a physical distance of 6 feet away from others is considered effective in preventing COVID-19. Avoiding large crowds by working at home, closing schools, and canceling conferences and large meetings are examples of social distancing. It is recognized that this term should be changed to physical distancing because we need physical distance with social connectedness to prevent the spread of disease while maintaining support systems.


  • Stay at home order: a mandate to stay home and minimize contact with those outside the home to reduce the spread of infection. Our local stay at home order has many exceptions. Unfortunately, these exceptions have allowed the continued spread of the virus. It would be reasonable to expect tightening of these exceptions to further reduce the rate of viral spread. Stay at home orders do not restrict leaving the home to spend time outside, choose your outdoor recreation space wisely and practice physical distancing from those outside your household while outside.


  • Flatten the curve: the use of prevention strategies to slow the rate of spread and reduce the burden on the healthcare system. On a graph, the quick spread of an infection with a subsequent spike in diagnosed cases is represented by a steep incline and decline. A flattened curve results in a more gradual incline to a lower total with a more gradual decline in cases. In practice, a flattened curve allows the healthcare systems to function and absorb the increased number of cases over a longer time period while maintaining available rooms, beds, and resources to effectively care for the ill.


Other Helpful Links:

Johnson County Department of Health and Environment

Kansas City Star Coverage

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization



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