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Coronavirus and the Common Cold. How will we stay Safe?

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
5
March 6, 2020

What we know so far: 

The Covid-19 virus comes from the family of coronavirus, which also includes SARS and MERS, as well as other variants that can cause common cold. The virus is more easily transmissible, but appears less deadly than SARS. 

The Transmission: 

The transmission is mostly via droplets. What this means is that this virus is carried via droplets emitted from an infected person over a short distance. A lot like when a person coughs, sneezes, or sweats. If these droplets come into contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth of an individual, either directly or indirectly by hands that have come into contact with the virus, the person can become infected.

The covid-19 virus can be transmitted via surface contact. This means that when a person sneezes or coughs, these droplets can fall onto surfaces and chairs. These droplets can survive up to a few days. If a person comes into contact with these droplets and gets them on their hand, then they rub their eyes, nose, or mouth without washing their hand, they may become infected.

There is no evidence currently to suggest that the virus is airborne. Other viruses, like chickenpox, can be transmitted by air, but the Covid-19 virus is not in this group.

What Environments are Less Risky: 

This is why hospitals now know that people at highest risk are those close contacts of confirmed cases. For more transient contacts, such as passing a person in the store, hotel, or hallway, the risk of transmission is low. 

For coronavirus generally, the person is most infectious when he is displaying symptoms or is symptomatic. This is likely to be the case for covid-19. There is evidence of limited spread from a person without symptoms during the incubation period, and this is mainly because people that re: asymptomatic are also less likely to be coughing or sneezing. For this reason, transmission from this way is lower. 

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Who is at risk? 

Since covid-19 tends to affect respiratory systems, people at highest risk are those with a history of smoking, or those chronically exposed to second-hand smoke. Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and severe asthma are likely at higher risk. It is also known that people with uncontrolled blood pressure and high blood sugars are also at an increased risk, and should be cautious to keep their blood pressure and glucose extra well-controlled during this time. 

So how can we best protect ourselves? 

The most effective way to protect ourselves is by practicing good personal hygiene, reducing or quitting smoking to strengthen our respiratory system, and being cautious in public places. Use this helpful acronym to help you.

Wash Hands

We should regularly wash our hands with soap and water. Clinical recommendations are to wash your hands for 20-30 seconds, the equivalent of singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Since our forearms are often leaning on potentially contaminated surfaces, your unified Care team recommends that you are washing your hands and also forearms up to the elbows when wearing short sleeves. 

This also includes sanitizing surfaces with a bactericide + virucide sanitizing agent regularly, or between every client that you see in your office.

Use A Mask

If you have a cough, a runny nose, or are prone to sneezing, especially during allergy season, you may still transmit the virus even though you feel you are not infected.  Always wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. 

Check Your Temperature

Check your Temperature Regularly. The UnifiedCare Team recommends you to check your temperature daily. If you have a fever above 99.5, it is recommended that you seek the attention of a doctor, and wear a mask until you are cleared by the doctor.

Avoid Crowded Places

Limit your exposure in crowded places where a person may sneeze or cough in close proximity to you. Examples of these places include malls, amusement parks, farmers’ markets, and fairs. 

Never Touch Your Eyes, Nose and Mouth with unclean hands

Surface contact with droplets is the most common means of transmission from what we see so far especially since people may transmit the virus without having symptoms, and may transmit the virus from surface to surface without realizing. From this perspective, wearing masks may not help us to prevent spread of the virus. For this reason, this is the most important way to prevent the spread of the virus. 

Avoid touching your face, especially the eyes, nose, and mouth (where our mucosal membranes are located).This is surprisingly difficult to do because all of us touch our faces regularly without realizing it. Educate your friends and family to remind each other when they see someone touching their face without realizing. Also be cautious if you choose to wear a mask, because we are more likely to touch the mask or our face repeatedly to adjust the mask. And this has direct contact with our mouth and nose.

Take-Home Notes:

Regardless of if you are worried about Covid-19 virus or the common cold, there are some great tips to stay safe out there.

  1. Keep washing your hands.
  2. If you are sick, protect your friends and family by staying home, resting, and getting better.
  3. If you must go out, wear a surgical mask to prevent others. 

Boost Immunity: 

There are many things you can do to improve your immunity in general to fight covid19 as well as other colds and viruses. 

  1. Aim to get around 5000 IU of Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) every day. There is a lot of research suggesting higher levels of vitamin D in the blood can boost our immune function naturally, but most of the population in the US is deficient. Try to get this regularly to help immunity in general.
  2. Stop smoking to put less stress on the lungs. Covid-19 settles in the lungs, so to reduce your risk of complications and death, stop smoking.
  3. Get glucose and blood pressure under control. Most patients get symptoms and complications from covid-19 when A1C levels are over 7% or blood pressure averages above 140/90. Try to get below these.

Stay healthy, and stay happy. From your Care Team at Unified Care.