Everyday Health wanted to know just how much the outbreak is affecting everyday life, so we surveyed our readers. Then we spoke with healthcare professionals about the most common responses, best practices during the virus outbreak, and how people can manage their stress levels
1. I Am Using or Intend to Use Telemedicine More
Telemedicine is important to take advantage of during this time, says Tania Elliott, MD, a clinical instructor of medicine and an infectious-diseases specialist at New York University’s Langone Health in New York City. According to Dr. Elliott, there are three reasons medical professionals should make use of virtual care; to minimize sick patients’ contact with others, to give mildly ill patients who don’t need hospitalization recommendations for symptomatic relief, and to enable people with chronic conditions to still have access to care.
“Telemedicine is also an approach to reduce person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV2 through reducing person-to-person direct contact,” says Jill E. Weatherhead, MD, an assistant professor at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
By participating in telemedicine there are reduced interactions between patients sitting out in waiting rooms and between patients and healthcare providers within the exam room, Dr. Weatherhead explains. This could also potentially reduce the rate of transmission within the community. But this practice should be used only if patients have mild SARS-CoV2 symptoms or are in need of non-SARS-CoV2-related and non-emergent medical care, such as refills on daily prescriptions or to discuss lab tests, she says.
2. I Am Working From Home More
Working from home may aid in reducing the rate of community transmission of SARS-CoV2. If more people are at home it reduces potential interactions with sick individuals. According to experts, this is also why it is imperative for individuals who are sick to stay at home.
“We determine the contagiousness of a virus by the reproductive number known as R0 (R-naught). This refers to how many people one single infected individual can transmit the virus to within the community,” explains Weatherhead.
According to Weatherhead, the estimated R0, or how quickly SARS-CoV2 can spread in a community is between 2-4, meaning one sick individual can spread the virus to 2 to 4 other people. As a result of rapid spread, health systems can be overwhelmed with the volume of patients infected.
“When social distancing is practiced, including telecommuting, the rate of transmission will be reduced, allowing hospital systems to better handle the pandemic [and] flatten the curve,” explains Weatherhead.
3. I Am Stocking Up on Medications and OTC Medicines
“It’s essential for individuals to have their normal daily medical supplies available at home, particularly their medications,” says Weatherhead. This is important in case they develop symptoms and need to be quarantined at home for 14 days.
For people with chronic conditions, it’s very important to make sure they get a minimum of a three-month supply of prescription medications, says Elliott. Keeping chronic conditions under control is very important because people with them are at the highest risk for the COVID-19 disease.
The CDC recommends considering mail-order services for medications if you need to stay home for a prolonged period of time.
Elliott also recommends keeping open communication with your doctor: telemedicine, email, and patient portals are all good options during this time when we are practicing social distancing.
4. I Am Buying Medical Supplies I Wouldn’t Normally Purchase
A common survey response: People are buying medical supplies that they normally wouldn’t purchase. The two most popular? Thermometers and face masks.
According to Weatherhead, face masks play a role for individuals who are infected who need to seek medical assistance and for caregivers of people who have become infected so they can protect themselves. It is not currently recommended for noninfected persons to wear a mask, according to the CDC. Preserving access to masks for those who need them the most is critical for their health, she says.
Experts generally recommend keeping thermometers on hand to take your temperature if you feel feverish, a common symptom of COVID-19.
“For people with chronic conditions, I recommend having a blood pressure cuff at home, ideally one with Bluetooth so you can upload the information easily to your doctor,” says Elliott. She says inexpensive blood pressure cuffs work fine, too.
People with lung conditions may want to consider home digital stethoscopes that can listen to the heart and lungs and send information to your doctor. Elliott recommends Tytocare, an at-home medical exam kit that works in tandem with a healthcare provider.
5. I Will Be Practicing More Social Distancing
There are many things we can do to help protect ourselves against this novel coronavirus. These things include what we call social distancing, [which means] avoiding contact with sick individuals [and] trying to stay six feet away from somebody who’s coughing or might be sick, says Mark Mulligan, MD, the director of the division of infectious diseases and immunology at NYU Langone Health and the director of the NYU Langone Vaccine Center.
“Don’t feel shy on public transportation, for example, about moving away from somebody who’s coughing,” says Dr. Mulligan. He also recommends not going to work if you’re sick. Stay home until at least 24 hours after a fever. For elderly individuals, avoid unnecessary visits and interactions, he says.
How to Cope With Stress During a Pandemic
Our survey results included responses related to stress, like avoiding too much news, staying home and watching Netflix and other activities to quell anxiety.
“We’re seeing people engaging in things that give them illusory control, like panic buying and compulsively checking the news as a reassurance,” says Vaile Wright, Ph.D., the director of clinical research and policy at the American Psychological Association. The level of uncertainty around the coronavirus brings a sense of threat or danger, which exacerbates people’s anxiety and stress because the uncertainty reminds people of all the things out of their control, Dr. Wright explains.
Her advice is to identify activities you do have control over. She said it’s good to stay aware of things like places closing in your neighborhood because of the coronavirus but otherwise limit the news you’re taking in, especially if you’re looking at the same headlines over and over again. Identify reliable sources like WHO and the CDC and your local government; she recommended avoiding platforms like Twitter and Facebook for news updates.
“We see people — they can’t stop themselves from scrolling. They’re not posting about how many recoveries there have been but the number of deaths and the spread of the disease,” Wright explains. These are important to know but it’s not good to be overly saturated with them, she notes.
According to Wright, it’s important to think about preparation measures for school closures, teleworking, and coming up with contingency plans like buying supplies for a week or two. While people need to be doing important basic things that are good for them and their communities, they also need to pivot and think about their mental health and self-care routines:
- Get enough sleep.
- Eat well.
- Stay active.
- Reach out to friends and family virtually.
- Find things you enjoy.
Wright calls these “opposite actions,” when you purposely do something to counter what’s going on around you. She specifically advises against watching films and shows about pandemics (no matter what Netflix says is trending) because that’s similar to panic buying — it lends a false sense of control. Instead, she recommends choosing a comedy to watch, putting on some music, reading a comforting book or taking a bath — even if it’s just for 10 minutes.
“Try to focus on things within your control and accept that things are uncertain now but they will get better,” she says. “Remember, we’re all coming together to reduce the spread of the virus.”
Having been under virtual house arrest for some time, it’s easy to get carried away with the excitement of a short break, post Covid-19. You’re taking in new sights, sounds, smells and tastes. It’s an adventure for the soul. But rich foods and drinks, lack of exercise and the stress of travel, particularly with young children, can take a toll on your health. To avoid paying for it later on, take a few steps to remain healthy.
REMEMBER TO GET ENOUGH SLEEP
A holiday after such a stressful period for everyone might be much welcomed, but don’t neglect your sleep patterns. Aim for six to nine hours a night and take a short nap in the afternoon if you need it.
WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN
Stop germs in their tracks. Remember: wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry. This isn’t just good advice in a pandemic, it’s important every single day of your life. Practice it frequently throughout the day to prevent spread of diarrhea and respiratory disease, too. PACK SMART While it’s great to finally be free to enjoy a break, beware of the holiday cheer. Many hotels offer complimentary drinks, snacks or cakes. The result can be hard on your system. Pack Udo’s Choice Ultimate Digestive Enzyme Blend, to aid your digestion. A unique blend of seven plant-based digestive enzymes assist in the breakdown of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fibre. Udo’s Choice Super 8 Microbiotic is a hi-count microbiotic blend that contains eight strains of lacto and bifido bacteria. Each daily capsule contains 42 billion ‘friendly’ bacteria. Both products can be found in your local health food store or pharmacy.
ALWAYS KEEP HYDRATED
Drink lots of water. Spending hours travelling can dehydrate you. Carry a large bottle of water to have throughout your journey, and pack Manuka Lozenges with vitamin C for an added immune boost and try to choose caffeine free drinks throughout the day.
If you’re staying by the sea, eat lots of fresh grilled fish. Oily fish –including sardines, fresh tuna, salmon and mackerel – is particularly good as it’s rich in Omega 3, which keeps your skin hydrated and encourages healthy digestion as well as weight loss. Try to eat a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables – oranges, red peppers, green courgettes, yellow sweet corn – to get a wide range of antioxidants.
PROTECT FROM THE SUN
Lying in the sunshine feels great but you only need 10 minutes of unprotected sun to get your daily dose of vitamin D. After that you should use sunblock. As we get older, the collagen in our skin breaks down more rapidly, leading to lines, wrinkles and discolouring. To prevent the breaking down of collagen, eat lots of purple fruits, such as fresh blackberries, blueberries and black grapes.
Coronavirus: What Happens When You Get Infected?
How Does Coronavirus Attack Your Body?
A virus infects your body by entering healthy cells. There, the invader makes copies of itself and multiplies throughout your body.
The new coronavirus latches its spiky surface proteins to receptors on healthy cells, especially those in your lungs.
Specifically, the viral proteins bust into cells through ACE2 receptors. Once inside, the coronavirus hijacks healthy cells and takes command. Eventually, it kills some of the healthy cells.
How Does Coronavirus Move Through Your Body?
COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, starts with droplets from an infected person’s cough, sneeze, or breath. They could be in the air or on a surface that you touch before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. That gives the virus a passage to the mucous membranes in your throat. Within 2 to 14 days, your immune system may respond with symptoms including:CONTINUE READING BELOW
- A cough
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble breathing
- Chills, sometimes with shaking
- Body aches
- A sore throat
- Loss of taste
- Loss of smell
The virus moves down your respiratory tract. That’s the airway that includes your mouth, nose, throat, and lungs. Your lower airways have more ACE2 receptors than the rest of your respiratory tract. So COVID-19 is more likely to go deeper than viruses like the common cold.
Your lungs might become inflamed, making it tough for you to breathe. This can lead to pneumonia, an infection of the tiny air sacs (called alveoli) inside your lungs where your blood exchanges oxygen and carbon dioxide.
If your doctor does a CT scan of your chest, they’ll probably see shadows or patchy areas called “ground-glass opacity.”
For most people, the symptoms end with a cough and a fever. More than 8 in 10 cases are mild. But for some, the infection gets more severe. About 5 to 8 days after symptoms begin, they have shortness of breath (known as dyspnea). Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) begins a few days later.
ARDS can cause rapid breathing, a fast heart rate, dizziness, and sweating. It damages the tissues and blood vessels in your alveoli, causing debris to collect inside them. This makes it harder or even impossible for you to breathe.
Many people who get ARDS need help breathing from a machine called a ventilator.
As fluid collects in your lungs, they carry less oxygen to your blood. That means your blood may not supply your organs with enough oxygen to survive. This can cause your kidneys, lungs, and liver to shut down and stop working.
Not everyone who has COVID-19 has these serious complications. And not everyone needs medical care. But if your symptoms include trouble breathing, get help right away.NEWSLETTERStay Up-to-Date on COVID-19
What Else Does COVID-19 Do to Your Body?
Some people also have symptoms including:
- Liver problems or damage
- Heart problems
- Kidney damage
- Dangerous blood clots, including in their legs, lungs, and arteries. Some clots may cause a stroke.
Researchers are also looking into a few reports of skin rashes, including some reddish-purple spots on fingers or toes.
A few children and teens have been admitted to the hospital with an inflammatory syndrome that may be linked to the new coronavirus. Symptoms include a fever, rash, belly pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and heart problems. The syndrome, now being referred to as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C is similar to toxic shock or to Kawasaki disease, a condition in children that causes inflammation in blood vessels. We’re still learning about these cases.
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Suvex Soothe is dermatalogically tested and helps soothe sensitive, dry, itchy and eczema prone skin. We have not added any perfume or perfume oils which can irritate eczema. Suvex Soothe has not been naturalised like many other creams, so it smells completely natural, like natural creams should.
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