Before we jump into this topic, I would like to start by saying this. Don’t panic! What you should do, is take the time to be aware of what’s going on and be diligent with hygiene. This month’s blog is a bit of a longer read (about 10 minutes), but I believe, it’s worth your time because you’ll walk away with some good tips on how to stay healthy. Don’t have time for the full article now? Jump to the brief list of 10 Tips at the bottom of the blog, and then come back and finish the article later…
What is the coronavirus, and why does it have two names?
The CDC describes coronavirus as a kind of an umbrella term for some viruses; some of which can cause mild illnesses like the common cold. The coronavirus that everyone is worried about right now is COVID-19, and it’s a new type of coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease causing the outbreak which was first identified in Wuhan China in 2019. In case you were wondering, here is the breakdown of how they came up with the name: ‘CO’ for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, ‘D’ for disease, and ‘19’ for 2019, the year it was first identified.
These are some things to keep in mind:
Wash your hands, MORE THAN FREQUENTLY! There are some similarities to the flu in terms of symptoms and prevention, but COVID 19 is far more serious in part because it is new and not yet completely understood. You should think and act as though others have coronavirus, and as though the surfaces you touch have just been touched by someone who has the virus. I’ve listed some practices from the CDC, and a few habits I think you can take on to help prevent from getting sick:
- WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN. Not just after you go to the bathroom, but also at these critical points:
- Before you eat (and before, during and after you cook for that matter)
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick, vomiting, or has diarrhea
- Before and after treating a cut or a wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers, or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet (or after assisting others in using the bathroom)
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing (whether you use a tissue or not), or after assisting someone else in blowing their nose. Pretty much anytime you come into contact with “snot” or saliva, whether it’s yours or not.
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching the garbage
- After you touch “high-traffic” surfaces in public areas. Think about the things that don’t get disinfected often like entry doors, escalators, elevator buttons, gas pumps, handles/bars in airports, subways or other public transportation vehicles… you get the idea.
- If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water right away, then use some hand sanitizer until you can (make sure it has at least 60% alcohol).
- Use good handwashing practices. Don’t just run your hands under water and add a little soap for a few seconds. The rule of thumb is to scrub your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Try singing the “happy birthday” song twice in your head. But sing slow, like it’s for someone you like, not like you’re rushing through it just to get it over with—don’t be looking for shortcuts here you multi-taskers who are always in a rush! Here is a resource from the CDC that you should check out with more detailed info on handwashing.
- DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE (especially your eyes, nose or mouth) after touching public surfaces. This virus is spread from droplets that can enter your system through the eyes, nose and mouth so it’s important to be mindful of this.
- AVOID CLOSE CONTACT WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE SICK as much as possible. Right now, the CDC is recommending that people avoid gatherings larger than 10 people, and to keep about 6 feet of distance from others. Social distancing is one of the best defenses we have at the moment to prevent further spread of this disease, so we should take this seriously. If you don’t have to go out or travel, then avoid it as much as possible. You might be thinking, I’m healthy, and I’m in a low risk category, what’s the big deal about going out?! Even if you are young and healthy, you are still at risk and your activities can severely increase the risk for others. The reality is that there are still more unknowns than knowns about COVID-19. Social distancing is a way to not only protect yourself, but others you come into contact with that might be in a high-risk category (like parents, grandparents, kids, or people with asthma or other respiratory illnesses).
- IF YOU’RE SICK, AVOID PUBLIC AREAS & OTHERS as much as possible. The best thing to do is stay home when you’re sick, this way you won’t pick up anything else that can make your illness worse AND you won’t get others sick. The people who are most affected by this virus right now, are those that are immunocompromised. That means they have something going on with their health that is impacting their ability to stay healthy or recover from illness (people with respiratory illness and cancer are at highest risk). This is because their immune systems aren’t at their strongest because they are having to fight off infection or disease. Any other illness you add into the mix could be enough to wipe out their immune system reserves. People who are sick, have respiratory illnesses, immunocompromising illnesses, or even vulnerable populations like elderly adults should be especially careful and diligent with handwashing. It is especially important that you contact your health provider and take extra precautions if you have COVID-19 symptoms AND any of the following situations apply:
- You have traveled to a level 2 or level 3 country in the past 30 days. See CDC travel restrictions and CDC travel warnings for the most up-to-date information. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has also issued DHS travel guidelines in the US.
- You have come into close contact with someone who has recently traveled to a level 2 or level 3 country
- You have recently come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
- COVER YOUR MOUTH WHEN YOU COUGH OR SNEEZE WITH YOUR ELBOW. If you cough or sneeze, don’t cough or sneeze into your hands. Instead, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow. It sounds weird and looks kind of funny but there’s some science behind this practice backed by people from MIT and even from Mythbusters (I love that show). People who sneeze or cough in their hands may then go on to touch other surfaces (i.e. door handles, elevator buttons, the counter at Starbucks, etc.) and transfer their germs. Then we touch those surfaces and pick up those germs. It’s much harder to transfer germs from the inside of your elbow to a surface; in fact, Mythbusters proved that “sneezing into your elbow can effectively prevent the fluids from spreading” (Dean, 2016). For more info on this, check out this resource here… fair warning, it has some disgustingly horrifying images of sneezes and saliva projectiles moving out into the world, but it has some great info and it’s a quick read.
- STAY INFORMED, but only consider information from reputable sources (ahem, like me). As a nurse, I’m pretty much obligated to stay on top of changes in healthcare, but I use sources like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), National Public Radio (NPR), or other research-backed organizations that put out factual information for things like this. Avoid getting your health news updates from sources like social media or Wikipedia. The “dot org” websites tend to be sources that have to be fact-checked, but no matter where you look, just be sure they are trustworthy sources of public health information. Click here to view the CDC’s comprehensive list of FAQ’s where you can learn everything from COVID-19 signs & symptoms, to how it spreads, to how to protect yourself and more. The Cleveland Clinic FAQ’s page also offers helpful tips and information. For information on preventing spread of COVID-19 in communities, check out that CDC webpage here
- STAY HYDRATED & GET ENOUGH REST. Drinking plenty of fluids and getting plenty of rest sound like pretty basic things, but these are habits that help keep your immune system functioning in tip-top shape. Hello Hydration and Smooth Aesthetics Austin can help give you a boost in this area if and when you need it. Check out our “Defender” or “Funk Fixer” IV’s to help you when you’re feeling a little under the weather. Studies are now underway to determine whether IV Vitamin C can help.What we do know, is that Vitamin C in general plays a role in reducing the inflammatory response and even in helping to prevent the common cold virus (Peng, 2020). It’s why so many moms out there (mine included) try to shove orange juice down our throats when we say we’re feeling sick. It turns out there might be some proof in that pudding. Vitamin C is not only a prototypical antioxidant, but also involved in virus killing and prevention of viral replication” (Saul, 2020). Hello Hydration and Smooth Aesthetics Austin offers a high dose Vitamin C infusion for those who are looking for ways to support their immune system—but keep in mind, we’re not in any way claiming it is the cure or magical prevention potion for this or any virus.
- IF YOU HAVE THE SYMPTOMS that truly do seem like they fit the signs and symptoms of coronavirus, AND you have had recent close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread, then don’t wait. Contact your doctor and try not to spread germs or get others around you sick. Don’t shake hands, kiss, or share beverages, and don’t share towels or pillowcases or things that touch your face. DO USE disinfectants daily on things like countertops, door handles, remote controls, and other objects that are frequently touched. If you use tissues, toss them out after each use. Don’t leave them lying around on counters or other surfaces, especially if they are moist (I know people hate that word, but it couldn’t be avoided—sorry). The CDC also recommends that if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 you should wear a facemask.
- DISINFECTING high traffic objects and surfaces is a good practice whether you are ill or not. Do this daily, and frequently on high-traffic surfaces as mentioned above.
- ONLY WEAR A MASK IF YOU’RE SICK or if you’re advised to do so by your physician. Why do I keep hearing that we should not wear a mask right now? Some of you might be thinking that doesn’t make sense. Here’s what the CDC says about it: at this point, they aren’t recommending masks as a protective agent for people who are well—this is for a few reasons. The masks that people are commonly using (like the ones you see at the dentist’s office), aren’t really designed to prevent all droplets from entering your nose and mouth. There is a mask that is designed specifically for droplet precaution/prevention in healthcare settings, however, it requires a “fitting test” by a trained professional to ensure proper fit to your face. You really shouldn’t just choose a mask size arbitrarily and hope for the best. If you don’t have a properly fitted mask, then you’re actually more at risk than not wearing a mask at all. If you’re wondering why, it’s because in touching the mask frequently to adjust it, you might risk exposure to your eyes, nose or mouth. Facemasks should however, be worn by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. It is of course also essential for health care providers and caretakers that work closely with people who are ill to wear protective masks (CDC, 2020).
Ok. I hope this has helped arm you with some solid information, and that you’ll use these tips as you go about your daily lives. Remember, most of these tips are habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses, not just the coronavirus. In all honesty, they’re good habits to form now and keep doing every flu season (which typically runs from September through March). Stay healthy my friends, and don’t forget to contact us for your hydration needs!
- Wash your hands often
- Don’t touch your face after touching public surfaces
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- If you’re sick, avoid public areas & others
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze with your elbow
- Stay informed; use trustworthy sources for your information
- Stay hydrated & get plenty of rest
- Contact your doctor if you are concerned you have been exposed and you have COVID-19 signs or symptoms
- Disinfect high-traffic objects and surfaces
- Wear a mask if you’re sick
Additional safety tips and situation updates can be found on the WHO Coronavirus page.
Last updated 3.22.2020
Centers for Disease Control (2020). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Healthcare Professionals: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers. Retrieved on March 6, 2020 from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
Centers for Disease Control (2020). Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives. When and how to wash your hands. Retrieved on March 6, 2020 from https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html
Centers for Disease Control (2020). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Travel. Retrieved on March 6, 2020 from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
Centers for Disease Control (2020). Traveler’s Health: COVID-19 in Europe. Retrieved on March 15, 2020 from https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/warning/coronavirus-europe
Cleveland Clinic (2020). Cleveland Clinic Newsroom: Frequently asked questions about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Retrieved on March 15, 2020 from https://newsroom.clevelandclinic.org/2020/03/15/frequently-asked-questions-about-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/
Dean (2016). SBS: This is why you should sneeze into your elbow. Retrieved on March 6, 2020 from https://www.sbs.com.au/topics/science/humans/article/2016/02/15/why-you-should-sneeze-your-elbow
Department of Homeland Security, (2020). Coronavirus Travel Restrictions. Retrieved on March 15, 2020 from https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/images/opa/20_0313_opa_coronavirus-update-restrictions.jpg
Peng (2020). Vitamin C Infusion for the Treatment of Severe 2019-nCoV Infected Pneumonia. Retrieved on March 7, 2020 from https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04264533
Saul (2020). China Treating Coronavirus COVID-19 with Intravenous Vitamin C. Report from China: Three Intravenous Vitamin C Research Studies Approved for Treating COVID-19. Retrieved on March 7, 2020 from https://www.globalresearch.ca/three-intravenous-vitamin-c-research-studies-approved-treating-covid-19/5705405
World Health Organization (2020). Health Topics: Coronavirus. Retrieved March 6, 2020 from https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus