So, things got awfully real lately, and we’re hearing about coronavirus everywhere. Many of us begin wondering, can anything be done to improve the outcome of this infection. Yes, there are ways to improve the course of this infection.
First of all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s why we already discussed the supplements and health hacks that can help strengthen the immune system. In today’s post, we will focus on reducing the specific risks brought on by covid-19.
The main concern with the current virus is severe pneumonia, where the patient’s lungs begin to fill up with fluid in response to inflammation. That becomes a serious problem, if the patient’s organism has trouble clearing excess phlegm. The main goal in this case is to recover without the help of ventilators, which are in short supply at the hospital.
Severe cases of pneumonia mostly develop due to preexisting conditions, like asthma and COPD. Other risk factors include smoking/vaping, and poor self-care.
When it comes to self-care during an infection, most people tend to take a passive approach, rather than working to actively improve their condition.
So, what can one do to improve the outcome of a coronavirus infection, or any acute respiratory infection for that matter?
It is important to understand that with any inflammatory process, especially pneumonia, hydration is vital. This includes receiving adequate amounts of electrolytes (just water is not sufficient for proper hydration, especially during excessive sweating or digestive issues like diarrhea or vomiting.) With proper hydration, any secretions in bronchi or lungs will be easier to expectorate (cough up.) This could mean a difference between needing a ventilator and not.
Make sure the fluids you consume are very warm and don’t contain caffeine. It’s important to sip your drinks every 15 minutes, instead of chugging down large amounts at once. If you are not used to consuming a lot of fluids, don’t overwhelm your body by suddenly flooding it with gallons of water. Begin adding more liquid gradually, 1-2 additional cups every day until you work up to the optimal level.
How much water do you need a day? According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, it’s 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) for men and 11.5 – for women.
Steam inhalations are also a good way to support your respiratory system. I have to caution, however, that is it easy to receive burns to your skin or airways with excessive heat, so moderation is important. Make sure that you are not too close to the source of steam and if you feel too much heat, take breaks.
Another tool worth mentioning is a humidifier. We tend to exhale a lot of water, and if the air we breathe is dry, we will get increasingly dehydrated.
2. Sleep more
This suggestion is obvious. Our organism does its best work at repairing and restoring health during deep sleep. To that end, make sure you stop taking your fluids a couple hours before your bedtime.
3. Move it
Another important step is to encourage the circulation of the lymph. Our lymphatic system works relentlessly to carry toxins out of the organism. But, unlike our cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system does not have its own heart to push it around: it entirely relies on the position and movement of the body.
That’s why, if you feel well enough, make sure to regularly get up and do some walking or gentle exercises, moving as many muscles as you can. If you don’t feel up to that, try to constantly alternate between sitting and laying down in various positions, including tilted and slightly inverted, as in Postural Drainage (see below.)
4. Eat right
One other way to help your lymphatic system is by avoiding foods that can clog it up with excess mucus: dairy, starchy foods, bananas, eggs and meat. By the same token, foods like lemon and apple cider vinegar cut mucus and help loosen the phlegm. You can find lists of foods to eat and avoid here.
Anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements like Omega3, turmeric, cayenne pepper, oil of oregano and others, can also help reduce the amount of secretions and streamline the work of the immune system.
To help your organism stay strong, avoid starving yourself or overeating. The latter may sound redundant, because typically pneumonia has an appetite-suppressing effect. But for what it’s worth, eat smaller, easy to digest meals, to reduce the load on your organism that is already strained by fighting off the infection.
One thing to take with caution are cough drugs. According to webmd.com, studies failed to prove that common OTC medications like dextromethorphan and guaifenesin, help with cough. Besides adding unnecessary chemical load to your body, these drugs can cause unwanted side effects.
Instead of drugs, consider taking natural remedies, like honey, ginger, turmeric, sage, licorice, peppermint, ivy leaf, chicken soup, cayenne pepper, garlic and others.
Yes, you are encouraged to learn how to breathe! That might be an odd suggestion, but you can really aid your lungs and bronchi by training your respiratory system. Using deep, diaphragmatic breathing techniques can help expand your lungs and receive more oxygen.
Another way to improve lung function is aerobic exercise, which is best done as prevention – before you get sick. If your health allows, increase the intensity of your workout, until you reach the level of exertion where your breathing is labored and you can’t comfortably maintain a conversation.
While dealing with inflammation, you can practice Active Cycle of Breathing technique, which is aimed to clear excess mucus from lungs.
Gargling helps remove any postnasal drip and sputum that causes irritation and additional coughing. For this purpose, you can use warm water with one of the following: lemon, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, a few drops of tea tree oil and or sage, chamomile and even olive oil, when your throat feels irritated.
7. Huff and puff
When trying to get rid of excess phlegm, remember that coughing can irritate airways and even cause damage to lungs. So, in essence, we need to be stingy with our coughs. What does that mean?
You can use special breathing and huffing techniques that help gradually move secretions from the bottom of the lungs upwards, and then expel them without excessive coughing. You can see a tutorial here.
8. Use good vibrations
Applying gentle percussion and vibration to the chest and back helps loosen and dislodge the sputum, making it easier to move it up and out. I will post more about this in the upcoming days.
9. Postural drainage
One of the oldies but goodies in pneumonia care is postural drainage. It is an easy practice of changing your body position to help the lungs to move phlegm upwards, from where it can be easily coughed up. Each posture needs to be held for a minimum of five minutes. You can find information about postural drainage on healthline.com, physiotherapy-treatment.com and other professional websites.
10. Accentuate the positive
This is not just a well-wish. Experienced physicians know that patient’s recovery rate is increased when they feel emotionally comfortable and supported. Watch silly and funny videos, listen to pleasant music or audio books. Nothing heavy or very emotional, even if it’s cathartic.
Reach out for emotional support over the phone or video chat. If you feel lonely, there is a variety of free services and online groups that offer support and encouragement to people in distress caused by the pandemic.
So, take care of yourself, stay informed and stay positive!
With all this said – I hope you will keep away from all bugs out there and end up not needing the above advice!
Tamara Eristavi is a wellness coach, based in Irvine, Califorina.