There are behaviors and lifestyle modifications that can help minimize your risk and keep you safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although our goal is to help prevent you from becoming ill, we also we want you to be prepared and know what to potentially expect.
How to Minimize Your Risk:
- Hand washing: The most well-established way to prevent respiratory infections such as influenza and coronavirus is frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water. Scrub your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Hand sanitizer: Hand washing with soap and water is the best way to reduce germs, but if they are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol can help to reduce the spread of infection. Note: avoid any products containing triclosan, a known hormone-disrupting chemical.
- Covering your mouth and nose: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; if your hands are not free or you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve, not your bare hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, which can help provide the virus with a route of entry into the body. Since the average individual touches their face an average of 15 times per hour, remain vigilant!
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially when someone is ill. Surfaces to consider include doorknobs, phones, computer keyboards, remotes, and other surfaces that are frequently touched in rooms such as the bathroom and kitchen.
- Chronic stress can negatively alter immune system responses, making you more likely to get sick. Identify your personal stress reduction strategies and practice them regularly.
- Sleep has a big influence on immune function, so it is essential to get plenty of sleep. Practice good sleep hygiene and maintain consistent sleep hours—turn off screens, ensure the room is cool, quiet, and dark, and set a reminder to help yourself go to bed on time.
- Moderate, regular physical activity helps to boost immune system function by raising levels of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies, increasing circulation, and decreasing stress hormones. Establish and follow an exercise program to not only help prevent respiratory infections but also to improve cognitive and physical resilience.
- Nutritious foods/diet: Research indicates that brightly colored vegetables and fruits boost immunity better than most supplements. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables—aim for 10 servings per day. Include fermented vegetables or other probiotic-containing foods.
Steps You Can Take to Ensure Your Safety:
- If you are over 65 and/or have other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, lung conditions like Asthma and COPD, or immune deficiency disorders: For your safety, PLEASE STAY HOME.
- You are at greater risk of being infected and having more severe illness. We recommend social avoidance/distancing/isolation/ to reduce the chance of catching or spreading infection.
- If you have symptoms of illness: For the safety of your community and yourself, PLEASE STAY HOME as you may put others at risk of infection if you continue to be out and about in your community. This includes even getting groceries or gas. If you need someone to shop for you, please let us know so we can try to connect you with community resources.
- Remember: even though YOU may be generally healthy and able to fight viral illness, others in your community are more susceptible.
- If you experience severe shortness of breath and/or respiratory distress associated with the fever and cough, these may be warning signs of COVID-19 worsening that needs urgent medical attention. If more serious illness is developing, these two symptoms typically occur on day 5 of COVID-19 infection.
Although our goal at Functional Medicine of Idaho is to help prevent you from becoming ill by building strong immune systems as a first line of defense, we want you to be prepared and know what to potentially expect.
Should you become infected, here is what you should expect in the usual course of COVID-19:
- Typical incubation is 2-14 days from initial exposure. First symptom onset usually occurs, on average, 5 days after initial exposure.
- Day 1 of Symptoms: Patients run a fever, which is the most common symptom. Dry cough typically occurs next. They may also experience fatigue, muscle pain, chills, and sweats. A small number may have diarrhea or nausea one or two days before or after fever onset.
- Day 5-7 of Symptoms: People tend to take about 5-7 days before they are either clearly getting better or getting worse. This seems to be the turning point where the people who have mild cases tend to see some improvement and others tend to worsen. Some may even start to feel a little better, and then, within 24 hours, are definitely worse. Patients at risk may begin to have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, especially if they are older or have a preexisting health condition (THIS NEEDS URGENT EMERGENCY EVALUATION AS IT CAN PROGRESS DANGEROUSLY WITHIN HOURS).
- Days 5-7 appear to be the most important window to monitor changes in your symptoms and how you are feeling.
- There is a valid recommendation to NOT take Ibuprofen/Advil or Naproxen/Naprosyn or Aspirin for COVID-19 symptoms.
- Tylenol is OK, but in sparing amounts due to its potential liver toxicity.
If you would like to be seen by one of our providers to address any COVID-19 or other health concerns you have, please schedule an appointment. New patients, click HERE. Current patients, call our office to schedule.
We hope these recommendations help to keep you and your family safe!
Mark Holthouse, MD
FMI Medical Director