Health & Wellness

Coronavirus: What You Need to Know Now (+ 4 Natural Immune Boosters!)

If you’ve turned on your TV at all in the last few weeks, you’ve heard all about it. Perhaps your friends are posting about it on social media and sharing shocking tidbits. Maybe your child’s school has even sent you emails regarding their plans, “just in case.” The reality is that there’s been a lot of media hype around the new coronavirus that started in China (also known as COVID-19). But how do you know what’s true? Where do you turn to get honest, accurate information?

I’ve had so many friends reach out to me and ask if they should be concerned. Maybe you’re wondering the same thing. And while I can’t directly answer whether or not you should be concerned about this coronavirus (since it’s pretty early at this point), I do feel a need to provide real facts on the situation so you know exactly what’s going on. After all, I see the worry, fear, and stress everyone is experiencing—and that stress can have a very big effect on your health, especially your immune system.

So, I’d like to share with you what I found when looking at the true data on this strand of coronavirus and cover what it is, where and how it’s spreading, and some natural therapies that you can implement to help protect yourself and your family.

 

What is the Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are not a new virus family. They are a family of viruses known to originate in animals—mainly bats, camels, cattle, and cats. The new coronavirus, COVID-19, is a respiratory illness caused by a new strain of coronavirus first detected in Wuhan City, China on December 31, 2019. Though it’s commonly believed that COVID-19 originated from an animal-to-human transmission, it’s now being spread from person-to-person. [1]

COVID-19 is being spread by close proximity to an infected person (within six feet) and via respiratory droplets that occur when someone coughs or sneezes. These droplets are then inhaled into your lungs, which is where the virus attaches itself. It can be transmitted via the air if you’re in close contact or via touching an infected surface and then touching your face. While the virus may be spread before symptoms appear, current reports state that people are most contagious when they’re exhibiting symptoms. This is actually the exact same way that we transmit the common cold and flu virus.

As of February 29, 2020, there have been 85,733 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with over 92 percent of those cases (79,257) occurring in China. To date, we’ve seen 6,476 confirmed cases outside of China and a total of 2,933 deaths worldwide. On a more positive note, almost 40,000 people have now completely recovered. Furthermore, of the active cases remaining, 35,185 (82 percent) are reported to be mild, leaving 7,818 (18 percent) categorized as serious or critical. [2]

Now, it’s important to remember that the majority of these cases occur in the elderly population or in conjunction with other medical conditions that make them “high-risk.” And this high-risk designation doesn’t just apply to this coronavirus; it applies to any virus they may contract, such as a cold or the flu.

Symptoms of Coronavirus

According to the CDC, here are the most common and prevalent symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

These symptoms can appear up to two weeks after exposure to the virus and resemble a common cold in most people. If you begin to develop these symptoms, stay home and call your doctor to discuss next steps. Remember, it’s better to contain yourself at home than run to a hospital or clinic where there may be high-risk individuals who could come into contact with whatever virus you have, corona or otherwise.

What Are the Major Concerns About Coronavirus?

So, why is there so much media coverage and panic over the COVID-19? First, this is a new viral strain in humans, so it can take your body time to build up immunity against it. As a result, we’ve seen rapid transmission throughout China, with some spread to other countries. This rapid spread in China is the primary concern today, but officials have noted that the spread seems to be slowing there. [3]

To date, COVID-19 has affected 62 countries worldwide. South Korea has a total of 3,150 cases, of which about 800 are new, and 17 deaths. Meanwhile, Italy has the second highest count with 889 cases total, with 21 deaths.

Here in the U.S., we’ve seen 66 cases total, with just three of those being new. To date, we’ve seen one COVID-19-related death of a high-risk individual here in the U.S. [4]

By now you’re probably wondering how the spread of this new coronavirus compares to other recent scares we’ve had over the years. With all the media coverage, I certainly had that question. So, I looked into it a bit further—and here’s what I found.

What the Data Shows: The Comorbidity Factor

If you think back to a few years ago, you’ll likely recall the concern about SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2012 and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) in 2002. Just like COVID-19, both are strains of the coronavirus. And, just like COVID-19, they spread rapidly.

Now, here’s where it differs: Currently, media outlets are sharing that this virus has killed more people than SARS and MERS combined. And that is true in plain numbers; however, we’re missing two important statistical facts. First, the death rates of SARS and MERS were much higher, with SARS coming in at 9.6 percent and MERS at 34.4 percent. [5]

Currently, the mortality rate of coronavirus is around 2 to 3 percent, and it is still early on. As more mild cases are found, often the percentage of mortality drops statistically, as it did with the H1N1 scare in 2009. This fact has been ignored by the media outlets who report that it’s more deadly or concerning than the other coronaviruses. As I’ve mentioned, 82 percent of the COVID-19 strain are considered to be mild, while only 5 percent become critically ill. [6] This is statistically better odds of survival than MERS and SARS, comparatively.

 

Coronavirus - Dr. Pingel

 

The key factor here? The data is showing that those who do, in fact, become critically ill from COVID-19 fall into one of two categories: They’re either over the age of 70 or have prior health concerns or diseases that predispose them to greater complications from any viral illness (also known as a comorbidity). Amazingly, to date, zero children have died from this new coronavirus, further proving the importance of the comorbidity factor in determining someone’s risk of complications.

I mentioned the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, so let’s take a closer look back at that previous scare. The CDC estimated that between about 151,000 and 575,000 people died throughout the world from H1N1 during the first 12 months the virus spread. [7] While those numbers may be shocking, the more astonishing stat here is the fact that 80 percent of those fatalities are estimated to have occurred in people younger than the age of 65. H1N1 complications affected a younger demographic, while COVID-19 seems to be affecting the elderly and those predisposed to medical complications.

It is also worth mentioning that the comorbidity rate was estimated much higher in the earlier stages of the H1N1 viral spread, only to settle at a rate of less than 1 percent mortality  by the end of the rapid spread. The H1N1 is now a virus that is part of our regular viral influenzas and is still regularly contracted in the U.S., but without the fear surrounding travel and daily living.

Finally, for comparison, let’s review cold and flu viruses. From 2018 to 2019, the CDC estimated that 35.5 million people were sick with the flu. Of that number, there were 34,200 deaths. [8] Meanwhile, there are an estimated 62 million cases of rhinovirus (also known as the common cold) each year. And it’s estimated that about 2 million infants die from this virus each year. [9]

In fact, rhinovirus is considered to be fatal in people with certain previous respiratory illnesses and/or cancer. Yet, we go about our lives normally when we contract this virus, often relying on cold medications to suppress symptoms while we head back to work. Once again, it’s the comorbidity factor that you need to consider more closely so that you can determine if you are at high risk of serious complications or death from contracting this virus.

Now, when I looked at the comorbidities of the death rate surrounding the new coronavirus, I discovered something interesting. Approximately one-third of the world’s smokers live in China, and more than half of all Chinese men are regular smokers, while only 2 percent of Chinese women smoke. Knowing how this new coronavirus works (by attaching to your lungs), is it any surprise to also learn that men are experiencing a higher death rate than women? While infection rates are about equal, there’s currently a 2.8 percent death rate in men and a 1.7 percent death rate in females. [10] Doesn’t that make you wonder how comorbidities could increase your likelihood of developing complications of any virus or illness?

 

What Can You Do About Coronavirus?

So, now that you know all the facts surrounding the new coronavirus, what can you do about it? Aside from the comorbidity factor, can you really arm your body’s defenses in case you come into contact with it? The great news here is that there are steps you can take to help prevent catching COVID-19 and any other virus for that matter, such as the flu and common cold. Here are some of my top tips and natural immune booster tips:

Wash your hands regularly.

Yes, I know you’re hearing this everywhere, but there’s a reason! Anytime a virus is spreading, it could linger on a surface for up to 30 minutes, meaning that you need to properly wash your hands after touching anything outside your home. And I say properly because you may be shocked to learn that there is a right way and a wrong way to wash your hands—and it has nothing to do with the water temperature!

If you’re looking to protect yourself against the new coronavirus, or even a cold or the flu, you must wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Two ways to ensure you’re washing them the correct way? Sing a song in your head so that when it ends, you know you’re good to go. I taught my kids to sing either “The Alphabet Song” once or “Happy Birthday” twice through.

Also, even if your hands are clean, try to avoid touching your face, just in case any germs are lingering.

Be mindful.

Look, at this point, there’s no reason to stop living your life. As it stands, this coronavirus hasn’t spread throughout the U.S. in large numbers. So, go out and enjoy yourself. That said, if at all possible, you may want to avoid certain places, such as your hospital’s ER or catching a flight to certain international locations. And if you hear that this virus is spreading to your area, it may be wise to cook dinner at home instead of traveling out to a popular restaurant. But, for now, it’s perfectly fine to watch, be mindful, and just enjoy yourself.

Stressing about catching this coronavirus will only lower your immune system, which is the exact opposite of what you’re looking to do right now anyway. If you develop symptoms of a common cold and are at low risk of complications, stay home, call your doctor’s office by phone, and wait for further development of fever. Do not risk spreading any virus to others.

Start hitting up some great natural immune boosters!

You can read more about them here, but here are my top four immune boosters to help you fight and/or prevent viral strains:

1. Take vitamin C.

Not only can vitamin C help decrease both the severity of your symptoms and the duration of your illness, but your body depletes this essential nutrient when you’re stressed and/or ill. [11]

I recommend starting with 2,000 IU and see how your bowels tolerate it. If you don’t experience loose stools, you can take another 2,000 IU within 1 to 2 hours. When your bowels become loose, you’ve hit your limit. Regardless, don’t take more than 10,000 IU.

2. Try oil of oregano.

Oil of oregano has been used for thousands of years to treat respiratory illnesses, largely due to its anti-viral activities. [12] If you’re nervous about contracting a virus and begin to feel any symptoms, take 2 or 3 capsules each day for up to two weeks. Make sure to discuss taking this supplement with your doctor, especially if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

3. Take probiotics.

Studies have shown that taking probiotics during a viral infection can actually shorten the duration of the illness and even lessen symptom severity by up to 34 percent. [13] I find that 100 billion CFU probiotics help the most when fighting off or preventing an illness.

4. Drink lots of water.

Staying hydrated is probably one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to ward off viral illnesses. Why? Well, when your nasal membranes are moist, viral pathogens are less likely to stick and take hold. Try to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day to ensure proper hydration.

As the media continues to report on this coronavirus, keep these tips in mind and know that you’re prepared because you’re prioritizing the health of your immune system and your entire body.

 

Key Takeaways

  • There’s been a lot of media hype around the new coronavirus (COVID-19) that started in China at the end of 2019. And this has been causing many to feel stressed and concerned.
  • While, at first glance, this new coronavirus appears to be a rapidly-spreading, serious infection, the truth is that 82 percent of those diagnosed with COVID-19 had mild cases. Furthermore, the more serious cases have been connected to comorbidities.
  • Luckily, there are steps and natural therapies you can take now to help boost your immune system in anticipation of any virus that’s circulating. Make sure to wash your hands; be mindful of your surroundings and situation; and consider taking natural therapies such as vitamin C, oil of oregano, and probiotics. And remember to drink lots of water.
  • The truth is that it’s really too soon to tell how significant this coronavirus will be, but you can rest assured that you’re doing all you can to help protect your health and that of your family.

6 Comments

  1. Amanda

    March 1, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    Thank you so much for all the tips!

    1. Dr. Tricia Pingel, NMD

      March 2, 2020 at 7:55 pm

      You are welcome!

  2. Alma Wood

    March 2, 2020 at 8:38 pm

    Thank you for sharing this information with us.

    1. Dr. Tricia Pingel, NMD

      March 2, 2020 at 8:59 pm

      It is my pleasure

      1. Ann Daggett

        March 3, 2020 at 8:43 am

        ThankYou we really appreciate you sharing this information

      2. Dr. Tricia Pingel, NMD

        March 3, 2020 at 8:43 am

        It’s my pleasure, as always.

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