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‘Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases’

This article is written by Karen Robinson, our Clinical Director.

I wanted to write something about Covid-19, as it seems to me that there is panic regarding this virus.  I have spent the last few days researching and reading about if from all different perspectives –  and there are many.  I will include links at the end of this article of the ones I found thought-provoking.

I think we can say Covid-19 is now with us, and that it is said that over 80% of the population will catch it over the next 18 months. Cue panic!

But wait – if we sit down with our rational heads and have a look, what can we see?

Covid-19 is a virus, that comes from the family of viruses of which the common cold is one.  Pretty much everyone will get a cold once – the symptoms of course vary, and those at risk will always be at risk. Covid-19 is no different.

With modern over-the-counter remedies we have become blasé.  Whilst we panic about the words ‘self-isolation’ and hygiene, in reality we should really have already been practising this when we have the common cold.

Hand hygiene – soap and water still remain the best product for killing the virus.  Just make sure that you wash your hands properly and regularly, after each sneeze or cough and after visiting the toilet – common sense.  Having said that, there are some great song snippets to sing along to for the required amount of time.

Respiratory and cough hygiene – as this virus seems to be spread by coughing and sneezing, we should give this serious consideration. Always cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when sneezing, coughing, wiping and blowing your nose. Catch it! Bin it! Kill it! After this, wash your hands with soap and water, or if that is not possible -hand sanitiser. If you are unable to do this, then cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Face masks – If you are showing symptoms, or believe that you may have been in contact with someone, but need to go out where you will mix with people, then wearing a mask will be a preventative measure to help stop you spreading the virus. 

Self-Isolation – I personally think that this is a lost art, along with ‘convalescence’.  If we have a cold or flu, or indeed any bug we should be resting and taking care of ourselves – and not going to work / school / mixing with people.

If you have symptoms, then resting at home is the best place for you. If you are sharing your home, them practising self-hygiene as above will be of paramount importance.

If you don’t have symptoms then this can seem a very long time. I appreciate that there will be lots of concerns, financial especially, but can we look at having this enforced time positively?

Using your self-isolation period positively

1.   Catching up on your sleep is a great idea and here is a fantastic opportunity.  Getting enough sleep has been shown to be vitally important in our wellbeing.

2.   What needs doing around the house that you don’t have time for? Are there any projects? Are books you would like to read, movies to watch, topics to study?

3.   Remember to keep moving and exercising – there are many things that you can do indoors with the information readily available online.  If you are able to go outside and not mix with people, then I would say do that. 

4.   Definitely take the time looking out of windows and into the distance, as four walls can very soon seem to close in on you which will affect your mental wellbeing. People working in offices and on computers should already be doing this regularly during the day.

Boost your immune system

One of the best ways you can take care of yourself is to improve your immune system. This means that should you catch Covid-19, or indeed any virus or bacterium, your immune system will fight it more efficiently and your symptoms will be on the mild end of things.

The biggest influencer – and not in a good way – is stress. This lowers our immune response – so the panic, anxiety and fear that is around Covid-19 is doing nothing to help the situation. 

A quick way of calming the system is through breathing, focusing the mind on something for 5-10 minutes. A simple breathing pattern would be to breath in for a count of 3 and out for a count of 7. There are many others out there, many different apps that will guide you through. You are ideally looking to make the out-breath longer than the in-breath.

Diet is another area to consider. I posted earlier in the week on FB “Kitchen Tonic No 1” from my dear friend and colleague Alex Carberry who is a herbalist.  This supports your immune system, strengthens digestion, restores and helps circulation and clears lymphatics – all of which are needed to be working together and working well for us to be healthy. 

Eating lots of fruit and vegetables and reducing the amount of sugar is also a good idea. There is also evidence that having an alkaline body pH, and eating alkaline foods will set us up in good health to fight.

Be considerate to everyone, we are not alone in this and need to support one another.

I think by now everyone is aware of the symptoms and that this is a changing environment. Keep up to date by visiting Public Health England.

Helpful links

For your mental wellbeing:

Mind, for better mental health, has an interesting article.

Alkaline body pH:

Visit the Nature’s Fare website.

Boosting your immunity:

Alex Carberry, Medical Herbalists has written a great piece about strengthening your immunity.

Another interesting read about Nutritional Immunology is here.

Further thought

‘Coronavirus: the real risks and human biases behind the panic’ by Mark Manson – read more.

‘Coronavirus/COVID-19, stress less by getting informed’ by Thriving-inside-and-out – read more.