Reasons I Don’t Have Corona-Phobia

Corona-phobia

(And why you shouldn’t either!)

I first heard the term “corona-phobia” on the on-line show The Highwire, hosted by Del Bigtree.  As you might guess, corona-phobia means an undue fear of catching Covid-19. I have watched The Highwire on YouTube periodically over the past year.  Del Bigtree is a medical journalist who is a former producer on The Doctors TV show. He also produced the documentary movie Vaxxed. I saw Vaxxed and also met Bigtree several years ago at a Weston Price Foundation annual conference.  The byline for The Highwire is “the alternative news network to everything health”, which is an apt description.  The reason I trust the show is that Bigtree links any assertions made by on it to published medical research.  

Once states began mandating closures and requiring that people stay at home, I began to do more research into Covid-19.  I did not like what I saw as sensationalism by news outlets playing on the fears of people.  I decided that I needed to look deeper than the news and look at what a variety of health experts said about this virus. 

There are any number of viral and bacterial illnesses that are prevalent in the U.S., including the common cold and multiple different strains of influenza.  But society is not afraid of them, nor have they been sensationalized like Covid-19 has.  The likelihood that a person gets a cold, the flu, or Covid-19 and, if they get the illness, how sick they get depends on a number of factors.  These include how prevalent the disease is in a given location, how virulent the disease is, and the terrain of the host.  

Prevalence, Virulence and Terrain

One reason I don’t have corona-phobia is that its prevalence in Aiken is low.  There have been 253 cases per 100,000 residents in Aiken.  This is the second lowest for counties in the state.  The average for South Carolina as a whole is currently 639 cases per 100,000 in contrast to New York state where the prevalence is 2040 per 100,000.  It is vastly less likely that I will come in contact with someone with Covid-19 in Aiken than if I were in NYC.  [all dates as of July 2, 2020]

A second factor in whether a disease may be of concern is how virulent it is.  Virulence refers to how easily a disease spreads.  Covid-19 does seem to spread easily from person to person via close contact to nasal passages.  It does not seem to spread very well from surfaces, however.  The common cold and influenza can also spread easily.  The flu bug spread throughout my office at USCA for five years from 2000 and 2005.  Almost all of us in our office got sick after spring semester registration in January of those years.  It was a nuisance, but we were not scared to death about getting the flu.

Initially it was thought that Covid-19 was extremely deadly, but now we know that is not the case.  I heard an excellent podcast with Dr. David Katz, a physician who has researched Covid-19. He explained that in reviewing a number of places with high exposure, in particular the first cruise ship, they found that only about 20% of people were inflected.  The vast majority of the infected have mild or no symptoms.  The total mortality from Covid-19 now seems to be only slightly higher than with a severe form of influenza. To learn more about the general statistics about deaths from coronavirus versus other diseases check out this excellent article by Dr. Katz.  

But who is dying from this disease?  This is where the host terrain comes in. 

Covid-19 is causing serious disease or death mainly in elderly people who are already ill with some chronic condition.  In South Carolina current DHEC statistics show than 44% of deaths have occurred in nursing home residents.  In other states and around the world 50% or more of deaths have been in these facilities. 

Almost all deaths have also been from those with one or more preexisting conditions.  In South Carolina 63% of those who died had cardiovascular disease and 53% had diabetes.  Those with kidney disease, COPD, emphysema, or congestive heart failure were similarly more likely to die.  Only 12% of deaths occurred in those under the age of 60 and most were 80 or older.  A study at one New York area hospital system showed that only 6% of those hospitalized had no chronic health condition.  Less than 1% of deaths seem to occur in people that did not have some underlying health problem.  

We can’t do anything to control our age, but we do have a great deal of influence over our personal health by our everyday lifestyle choices.  So my personal focus has been to continue to make sure that my body (host terrain) is not hospitable to having the coronavirus replicate and make me sick.  I want to maximize my immune response so that if I am exposed to any virus or bacterial infection, including Covid-19, my body’s immune defenses will fight off the infection.  

How to Get Healthy and Avoid Corona-phobia

Choose a healthy diet, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, reduce stress and take targeted supplements, if needed.  

If you smoke, quite smoking. If you have some form of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, prediabetes or are obese, make the lifestyle changes needed to improve those conditions.  

I give more details about how to eat to reduce inflammation in this recent article on my website.  I gave more tips on eating an anti-inflammatory diet in this Bella Magazine article. 

Supplements for Immune Function

Many people have deficient levels of vitamin D.  One study showed that the levels of vitamin D directly correlated with the severity of the disease. Normal vitamin D status is generally considered at a level greater than 30, but many medical professionals consider an ideal status at a level of 50 or above.  If you are not sure of your vitamin D status, then ask your doctor to have it checked.  Without other knowledge, doses of 1000 to 2000 iu per day are safe, especially if you are not getting a lot of sun exposure.  

Research has shown there are many nutrients important to support immune function and avoid viral infections. These include vitamins A, C, E, and the mineral zinc and omega-3 fats.  I take a multi-vitamin daily as well as an omega-3 supplement to make sure my body is well-replete with these nutrients.  

The Institute for Functional Medicine has developed a detailed document that has their nutritional and lifestyle recommendations to combat Covid-19.  You can find it at this link.

Don’t sucumb to corona-phobia. If you are uncertain what nutrition and lifestyle changes you need to adopt to heal your chronic health concern, contact me for a free-20 phone call to see how  I can help you.  

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