This is my interpretation and synthesis of information from natural health practitioners in the US regarding cases they are seeing, and information they are accumulating. A special recognition goes to Paul Bergner, of the North American Institute for Medical Herbalism, much of this is data he has collected, a big thanks for his dedication to gathering facts and statistics before and during this pandemic. Also to all the other practitioners who are working so hard to prevent the spread of the virus and treat the virus.
Locally, a special large thank you to Colleen Stansbury who has strongly advocated for the safety of Gustavus during this pandemic and has tirelessly worked to support the health of people in this community for decades. Thank you also to the Gustavus City Council and Travis Miller for doing your best in hard times to do what is right for the people of Gustavus.
Information about the coronavirus has been politicized and misinformation has been spread, and then you have been asked to act responsibly.
Here is critical information you need to know to act responsibly during this pandemic:
(and I/we will continue to learn more with time)
- Masks and frequent hand washing are effective. Wearing a mask protects others and decreases the spread of the virus.
- Covid-19 does not act like the flu. Unlike the flu it may not have a sudden onset. For many it is characterized by low grade symptoms that may come and go over a period of many days. Some say that for 3 days they felt entirely better then symptoms came back aggressively. If you experience uncharacteristic flushing OR exhaustion OR diarrhea or abdominal pain—this is a pandemic, monitor your symptoms. Isolate and/or Test and continue to motinor your symptoms.
- Symptoms do not entirely predict your prognosis. Some people have been asymptomatic or experienced only mild symptoms then had a sudden turn for the worse. Shortness of breath is the flag symptom that needs monitored most closely and can deteriorate rapidly into critical stages requiring hospitalization (often this does not mean ventilation).
- A normal, healthy person with good hygiene can become infected and can spread this virus. Just because you don’t have the virus right now doesn’t mean you weren’t exposed or that you won’t have it at any given point in time in the future. If you aren’t isolating then you are at risk of being exposed.
- FEVER: Initial guidelines for symptomatic diagnosis of covid-19 were fever over 100.5°F
- The average temperature for hospitalized covid-19 patients in New York was 99.5°F
- 25% of people admitted to the hospital in New York had a temp below 98.4°F; this number likely accounts for many elderly people whose average body temperature is lower overall and when feverish.
- Only 31% of hospitalized New Yorkers with covid-19 had a temperature above 100.4°F
- The Journal of the American Medical Association published in 1992 an article that discredited 98.6°F as the average body temperature. Clearly too many people did not read that article, including medical professionals.
- A meta-analysis of data from 1935-1999 established the median normal oral temperature at 97°F.
- The average temperature for elders is 96.8°F. with an average daily peak around 97.3°F
- The average range of fever for an adult under 40 is 98.9°F to 99.9°F.
- In elders temperatures higher than 98°F may be indicative of a fever
- TAKE YOUR TEMPERATURE AND LEARN YOUR NORMAL RANGE BEFORE YOU ARE SICK. Take your temperature in the morning. Take your temperature between 4-6 pm.Digital thermometers will always commonly read 1 degree lower on the first reading. For accuracy, take a reading 2-4 times (or more) until you get the same reading twice.
- 80% of people experience mild to moderate illness.
- Men have higher rates of hospitalization and death from covid-19 than women.
- In the United Kingdom the comorbidities most associated with hospitalizations were: hypertension, diabetes, respiratory disease/asthma.
- In the United States the comorbidities most associated with hospitalization as of June 2020: hypertension, obesity, diabetes, respiratory illness like COPD.
- People over 72 had vast majority of hospitalizations in the United Kingdom
- People over 63 had vast majority of hospitalization in New York
- 25% of the people hospitalized in New York were younger than 52
- 25% of the people hospitalized in New York were 72 or older
- In China CT scans were performed on 81 people who were asymptomatic. CT scans diagnosed that 18.5% of these people had pneumonia. Asymptomatic or mild symptomatic persons can have pneumonia and be walking around with it and have no idea they could be headed for worsening illness.
PREVENTION & PREPAREDNESS:
- Excellent lifestyle habits: stress reduction, good nutrition and dietary habits, plenty of sleep, and adequate exercise are essential in creating a strong, resilient body and mind but will not prevent you from getting covid.
- Your chances of having a milder version of the virus are much more likely.
- None of us can control our age, but we can control things like nutrient deficiencies that make us more vulnerable to infections
- Vitamin D deficiency correlates with increased susceptibility to respiratory infections. Vitamin D allows immune cells in the lungs to recognize pathogens and initiate proper immune response. In general vitamin D deficiency correlates with poorer outcomes for intensive care unit patients. Supplementing with vitamin D will not prevent you from getting covid-19 but studies have correlated that severe vitamin D deficiency correlates with positively diagnosed covid cases and poorer outcomes. Alaskans tend to have low levels of vitamin D.. when was the last time you had your vitamin D level checked?
- A good multivitamin will not provide you with adequate vitamin D but will provide you with other basic nutrients that are needed to support optimal health.
- If you have existing conditions that make you vulnerable such as hypertension, diabetes, respiratory issues-- Now is the time to do whatever you can to get control of your blood pressure, blood sugar, and support your respiratory system. Did you need an incentive to quit smoking?! Smokers, including cannabis smokers are at higher risk.
- Stock up on some soups and broths. Make sure you have adequate fluids and easy to prepare foods in your pantry in case you do get sick.
- Particularly if you live alone, have a list of a few people that can call and check on you several times a day if you get sick.
- Eat Garlic: garlic is not a miracle cure or preventative, but it has several compounds that are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and very protective to the lungs. Don’t be afraid of garlic breath during a pandemic!
- Any of the usual things that you would do to keep yourself healthy and prevent the onset of a cold or flu are good ideas.
- DON’T drink bleach, cleaners, sanitizers etc and don’t ingest essential oils.
ONSET OF ILLNESS
- For many the virus comes in cycles, you may feel physically unwell, then feel better, then feel worse. Many people are experiencing this. Rest. Hydrate. Monitor your symptoms.
- 3 most typical symptom clusters of covid-19:
- DRY COUGH- LOW GRADE FEVER- SHORTNESS OF BREATH. 75% or more of people who get the disease experience this, some also have sore throat and runny nose.
- PROFOUND FATIGUE-MYALGIA-JOINT PAIN: common and may combine with any other symptoms.
- DIARRHEA-VOMITING- ABDOMINAL PAIN: 30% of hospitalized covid positive cases start with this presentation, about 4% of these reported only abdominal symptoms with no respiratory symptoms on onset. These people may or may not experience lung infections.
- Some people experience a loss of smell or taste prior to or with the onset of other symptoms.
- It is not recommended to take aspirin or NSAIDs while you have a fever as they can suppress immune function.
- A common symptom throughout all stages of covid 19 is temperature dysregulation and fluctuations. Chills or fever are both recognized symptoms.
- The following items from your pantry are good as food and teas to help in the early stages of viral infection: garlic, onions, thyme, oregano, citrus peels.
- Yarrow and Mint are common plants around Gustavus, dry these and mix together for a tea during first stages of covid or the flu. Drink a quart a day. Drink some hot then take a short hot bath or sauna as the shock of the heat inhibits replication of some viral proteins. Go back to bed!
- Inhale the steam of thyme or oregano tea.
- Around days 8-10 after the onset of symptoms is a very critical period where the virus can make a nasty turn to an inflammatory storm. If you feel hotter and shortness of breath, make sure others are aware of your condition. Symptoms can deterioriate rapidly.
- If you live alone, have a list of people who can call and check on you several times a day.
- For some recovering from the virus takes months. Some experience lingering profound fatigue.
- If you were hospitalized then the virus reached an intensity that compromised your lungs and possibly other organs. Seek long term assistance in rebuilding your health.
ANXIETY & SUPPORT
I don’t present any of this information to increase anyone’s anxiety.
As residents of Gustavus, we are independent minded, resourceful, and knowledge is power.
We live in a rural community with very limited health resources to face a pandemic.
The more you know how to protect yourself and others the better off we all are.
Wear your masks!
Support and take care of one another.
Enjoy your gardens and this beautiful place we live in. Garden and go for walks and forget about the pandemic for a while!
Then put your mask back on when in public again!