Coronviruses are a large family of viruses found in a variety of mammals and birds. In humans, these viruses can cause a number of conditions, ranging from mild respiratory infections to more serious illnesses like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) or Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that was recently identified in humans.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, which means that they can be transmitted from animals to humans. SARS, for example, is believed to have originated from civet cats while MERS was first transmitted to humans from dromedary camels. Like other respiratory infections, coronaviruses can also be spread from person-to-person through contact with bodily fluids such as saliva, blood or urine. As of now, scientists have still not traced where exactly COVID-19 originated.
Currently, it’s also unclear exactly how contagious COVID-19 is. However, until a vaccine or treatment is released for the virus, taking a few basic protective measures is prudent.
Healthcare providers may diagnose coronavirus by conducting a physical exam, taking your medical history and performing lab tests, including bloodwork, sputum tests or throat swabs. Those who have recently traveled to China or have been in close contact with someone who is infected are at a higher risk.
The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to other respiratory infections, including the common cold. Some of the most common symptoms include:
In severe cases, coronavirus may also cause more serious issues, including pneumonia, kidney failure, severe acute respiratory syndrome or even death.
Taking a few basic protective measures against infection is a simple strategy that can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Here are a few steps that you can take to protect yourself and others.
Wash your hands regularly using either soap and water or an alcohol-based rub, which can help kill off any viruses and prevent the spread of germs. Be sure to wash hands for at least 20 seconds before eating and after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or using the bathroom.
Ideally, try to maintain at least three feet of distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing. This can help prevent you from breathing in any liquid droplets containing the virus, which can be sprayed through the nose or mouth through coughing and sneezing.
Viruses can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours. Washing and disinfecting surfaces that you regularly use can help block the spread of germs to prevent infection.
Your hands can pick up viruses from the surfaces that you touch. Touching your face with unwashed hands can transfer these germs, which can then enter the body and cause infection.
Coughing or sneezing into your elbow or using a tissue to cover your mouth can help prevent the spread of germs and viruses. Be sure to also dispose of used tissues immediately and wash your hands thoroughly after exposure to any respiratory secretions.
Although health authorities do not recommend using a face mask unless you’re actually sick or in direct contact with those who are infected, you may want to stock up on other household supplies and anything else you regularly use for your health.
Ideally, you should have a 30-day supply of essentials, including laundry detergent, soap, diapers and pantry staples.
Find and bookmark the website of your local health department, which can help you stay up-to-date with the latest news and ensure that you know who to contact in case of infection.
If you’re not feeling well, it’s best to stay home to avoid infecting others. If you experience more serious side effects like cough, fever or shortness of breath, contact your own health provider or local health authority to determine the next steps.
In addition to practicing the strategies above, incorporating a few healthy immune system-supporting supplements into your routine may also be beneficial. Keep in mind that these should not be used to replace hand washing or respiratory hygiene, and you should seek immediate medical care if you experience any symptoms.
Vitamin C supports a healthy immune system. Daily needs for vitamin C is 300 milligrams daily and up to 1,000–3,000 milligrams daily during times when you may wish to consume more. The best dietary sources of vitamin C are fruits and veggies, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers and berries.
Vitamin D3 is also beneficial for its ability to support a healthy immune system. Vitamin D3 is also integral to the normal, healthy function of immune cells in the body. Dosage recommendations vary from 400 to 800 IU per day to up to 5,000 IU.
Some research shows that certain compounds isolated from red algae, also known as Griffithsia, could help support a healthy immune system and healthy immune system function.
However, more research is needed to determine conclusive results.
Glycyrrhizin, an active compound found in licorice root, may possess powerful health-supporting and healthy immune system-supporting properties. Still, additional studies should be conducted to evaluate licorice root’s benefits.
Elderberry syrup has been shown to help support a healthy immune system and healthy immune system function.
These healthy immune system–supporting foods and herbs have been traditionally used for thousands of years. This includes foods that are light yellow or white in color, including:
We recommend that you consume a diet rich in vegetables, vitamin C–rich fruits, manuka honey, herbs, spices, and wild organic meat like poultry and bone broth. An ideal meal for supporting a healthy immune system, for example, is homemade chicken soup (add ginger and garlic to the recipe).
Native to New Zealand, manuka honey is a type of honey that has been highly regarded for its beneficial healthy immune system-supporting properties.
In addition, the herb echinacea may be beneficial.
Oregano oil, too, can be helpful in supporting a healthy immune system and healthy immune system function. Its primary active component, carvacrol, is what is believed to provide these benefits.