Coronavirus is a novel virus that none of us are immune, and so it is only a question of when we get it rather than if we will get it. My biggest fear is that I will end up intubated (i.e., place on a respirator.) If there is anything I can do to prevent that, I am in —face masks, hand washing, social distancing, of course; taking unproven medications, never). Luckily, over the last six month, doctors and researchers are finding out what might separate the hardest hit from the asymptomatic.
People with pre-existing conditions—diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and respiratory diseases—tend to be hit the hardest, but there might be some things that could make a bout with COVID-19 easier. Below are a few. However, none of these habits will prevent you from getting the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, or from surviving it. What these habits might do is help set your body up to do battle against it.
1. Most importantly, manage any pre-existing conditions
Those with diabetes, COPD, and severe heart conditions that are not controlled could experience more severe responses to COVID-19. (For a full list of people at increased risk, see this CDC page) If your condition is uncontrolled, your risk of COVID-19 is increased no matter what your age, said Sapna Bamrah Morris MD, MBA, FIDSA CAPT, U.S. Public Health Service and COVID-19 Response Health Systems Worker Safety Task Force, Clinical Team during a Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conference call on March 27,2020. So, if you haven’t already, talk to your doctor about controlling your condition.
2. Exercise; specifically do some cardio
Regular movement may reduce the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome, a major cause of death in patients with the COVID-19 virus, according to research published in the journal Redox Biology.
It turns out that heart-pumping, heavy-breathing movement could help your body produce an antioxidant known as extracellular superoxide dismutase or EcSOD that helps fend off harmful free radicals that can cause disease and infections (which coronavirus is). Our muscles naturally make EcSOD, and exercise increases that production. A decreased amount of the antioxidant is seen in many diseases, including acute lung disease and ischemic heart disease.
What’s more: a single exercise session can boost your muscles’ antioxidant-producing capabilities. Find ways to get moving, whether it is a morning walk as your commute or doing laps in your house during phone calls, because every little bit helps.
3. Get your vitamins, especially C and D
In February, my husband was very sick (not coronavirus) and we were a couple weeks from going on vacation. I was determined not to get whatever he had, because I normally do. I started popping large doses of vitamin C and for the first time, I didn’t. Turns out: the vitamin C might have been the difference.
“The roles that vitamins C and D play in immunity are particularly well known,” said Adrian Gombart of Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute in a statement. “Vitamin C has roles in several aspects of immunity, including the growth and function of immune cells and antibody production. Vitamin D receptors on immune cells also affect their function. This means that vitamin D profoundly influences your response to infections. Recent research vitamins C and D may help boost the immune system and help the body fight the virus better.”
However, eating enough food to get the amounts of vitamins C and D needed for efficacy is difficult. As a result, Gombart and his colleagues suggest taking daily multivitamin, but doses of 200 milligrams or more of vitamin C (higher than the suggested federal guidelines of 75 milligrams for men and 50 for women) and 2,000 international units of vitamin D, rather than the 400 to 800 recommended depending on age.
Before acting on this advice, talk to your healthcare professional, especially if you’re taking any type of medication.
4. Weigh yourself
The COVID 15 is real. When I went to the doctor recently, the nurse commented that my weight was steady. I asked her if many patients were gaining weight and she said yes. My cardiologist also told me the same thing.
Depending on where you fall on the weight spectrum, now is the time to maintain or lose weight, just not gain any. Obesity is a high-risk factor for not just COVID but diabetes and heart disease. Weighing yourself regularly can just help you keep it in check. Here’s an article about the benefits of weighing yourself regularly that I edited. Stepping on a scale doesn’t need to be about weight loss.
None of these things will prevent or cure COVID-19…
What each might do is help prepare your body to fight the virus should you get it. At least, that is what I hope as I do many of these things.