Coronavirus - Should You Be Worried?

Recently there has been a lot of scary news in the media about what seems like a rapidly spreading outbreak of the Wuhan Coronavirus.  Governments around the world are reacting to try to keep their citizens safe, and are taking measures such as closing their borders with China, evacuating and quarantining their citizens, canceling flights to and from China, and so on.

As of the writing of this article, there are more than 11,000 documented cases of the virus, some in the United States, and more than 200 deaths.  So, should we all be worried, and if so, what should we do?

As a leader in the natural products industry, and as a company with a long history of providing research based immune support products, some of our customers have asked us to provide some guidance on this public health concern.  I hope this article helps you make sense of all of the hype you are seeing in the news.

Coronavirus – What is it?

Coronaviruses get their name because they are shaped like a crown (corona is Spanish for crown). A coronavirus as a common virus that causes infection in the nose, sinuses, or upper throat.  Most coronaviruses aren’t dangerous, and chances are good that you have caught one at some point in your life.  Coronaviruses spread the same way that colds and flu do, through sneezing or coughing from an infected person, touching an infected person’s hands or face, or touching an object that an infected person touched, like a telephone or a pen.  Coronavirus can also spread to and from animals.  In fact, most of the initial reported cases of the Wuhan Coronavirus were among people who worked at or shopped at a live animal market in Wuhan.

While most coronaviruses aren’t dangerous, some can be deadly.  MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) is a coronavirus, and resulted in more than 850 deaths in 2012 and 2013, mostly in the Middle East.  Similarly, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), also a coronavirus, killed more than 750 people in 2003. 

Coronavirus Symptoms and Treatment

Coronaviruses cause an upper respiratory infection, so symptoms are similar to the common cold; stuffy or runny nose, coughing, aches, and fever.  Coronaviruses get more serious when the spread to the lower respiratory system, causing pneumonia.  For those who die from a coronavirus, it is typically when their respiratory system shuts down as a result of acute pneumonia.  This has been the case with the Wuhan Coronavirus, as all of the mortalities associated with this virus were from respiratory failure.

For a typical coronavirus, treatment would be rest, hydration, good nutrition, and over the counter drugs to treat the symptoms.  For a person who comes down with a serious coronavirus, such as the Wuhan Coronavirus, that person is isolated in a hospital infectious diseases ward, and is closely monitored.  Oxygen and artificial breathing help may be administered if the virus has spread to the lower respiratory system.

What If You Get Sick?

If you get sick with cold or flu like symptoms, chances are you have not contracted the Wuhan Coronavirus.  The 2019 – 2020 cold and flu season has been severe.  As of January 18, 2020, there have been 15 million cases of the flu in the US, and an unknown number of cases of the common cold, which both have similar initial symptoms.

Treat your illness the way you would treat the flu or a cold, because that is probably what you have.  First and foremost, be kind and respectful to your co-workers or classmates and stay home.  Staying home is not only good for them, it is good for you, because you will need extra sleep and rest to give your body the chance to recover.  If you must work, telecommute.  Thankfully we live in an age where this is possible for many people.

In addition to rest, you should drink plenty of fluids (not caffeine or alcohol), make sure you eat well (balanced meals your grandmother would approve of with lots of veggies), and treat your symptoms with over the counter items you trust from your pharmacy.  Additionally, make sure your immune system is getting the support it needs by supplementing with natural products such as Sambucus nigra elderberry, zinc gluconate, echinacea, Vitamin C, mushroom extracts such as shitake, and even supplementing with lysine.  Choose natural products from a company you trust that has been in business for a long time.

If you are still sick after a week, or if your illness gets progressively worse, or if you have a pre-existing condition which compromises your immune system, you should see your doctor.  Also, if at any time you have trouble breathing, or if you have recently traveled to Asia or to another country that has experienced an outbreak, play it safe and see your doctor.

What to Do to Protect Yourself

It is better to take some simple measures before you get sick to reduce your chances of catching the coronavirus or any other illness.  The steps you should take really fall into two categories; reducing your chance of exposure to the virus, and ensuring your immune system is healthy to fight off the virus if you are exposed.

To reduce your chance of exposure, wash your hands frequently.  Don’t just rinse them and give them a cursory exposure to soap, scrub them with soap for at least 20 seconds.  Avoid touching your face when you are in public or when you are entertaining guests.  One way to remember to do this is to wear gloves when you are in public, or tie a piece of string around your index finger as a reminder.  Unless you must do so for work, avoid exposure to live animals other than domestic pets, and handle raw meat carefully.  And, while it should go without saying, don’t travel to China or to other countries that are experiencing an outbreak of Wuhan Coronavirus.

To make sure you have a healthy immune system, get 8 hours of sleep or more each night, and manage your stress.  Sleep and stress have a big impact on the health of your immune system.  Eat your vegetables, and avoid junk food and excessive amounts of alcohol.  And, you can be proactive by taking the natural products I mentioned earlier to boost your immune system before it is compromised.

Should We Be Worried?

The short answer is, probably not.  In truth, you should be more worried about the flu.  As of January 18, 2020, there have been 8,200 deaths in the US from the influenza virus.  In the 2017 – 2018 flu season, there were 79,400 deaths from the flu.  Comparing that to the current total of 258 dead in China, which is a country that has a population that is more than 4 times the population of the US puts things into perspective.

Here is further perspective.  In the US, in the latest year where data was available:

Additionally, it is important to remember that the US has the most robust public health system in the world, and has the resources and the foresight to deal with a crisis better than any other nation.

So, the bottom line is, don’t lose any sleep over the Wuhan Coronavirus.  You have bigger things to worry about, just live your life and take the common sense precautions you should take to avoid getting any virus.  Plus, losing sleep is bad for your immune system. 😊

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