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We’re close to putting 2020 behind us but Covid-19 has emerged on our doorsteps – our Narrabeen clinic is right in the middle of the Northern Beaches outbreak and we are providing daily drive-through car park testing in partnership with Clinical Labs, including over the Christmas break.
We know Covid can cause devastating physical and mental health impacts, including the following “long Covid” symptoms for weeks after the initial respiratory disease: breathlessness, hair loss, fatigue, anxiety, clotting disorder, headache and cognitive impairment. It has now been recognised as also a vascular clotting disorder, a cardiovascular disease and autoimmune disease.
To ensure you have a Covid-safe Christmas please consider the following suggestions, informed by the latest research and our team of specialist GPs (who put together have over 100 years of experience including with overseas pandemics):
- Minimise crowds and social gatherings. Any indoor setting is prone to airborne, droplet or surface spread. Covid can spread over 2 metres from just a normal conversation and last on surfaces up to 3 days. 44% of transmission is before symptoms and enteric shedding (from the gastrointestinal tract) can last weeks. Stay away from any social gatherings beyond immediate family or partners over this Christmas break. If you are not in lock down and need to see others, meet outdoors, wear a 2 or 3 ply mask and avoid kissing or hugging.
- Take Vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D is actually a hormone, and can be derived from food or the sun. Doses of 1000 IU have been shown to reduce respiratory infections by 40%, and reduce both the frequency and severity of Covid. If anyone in your immediate family has a cold, then take Zinc, Vitamin C, garlic to reduce the severity, duration and frequency of respiratory symptoms, as well as antioxidants such as beta-carotene (apricots, mangoes, carrots, peppers, spinach), Vitamin E (grains, wheatgerm, almonds, peanuts), lycopene (tomatoes, processed tomato products) and seafood that contains selenium. Drinking moderate to heavy alcohol is correlated with respiratory infections and pneumonia so take it easy over the break.
- Exercise and meditate every morning. Meditating for 45 minutes every day reduces the severity and duration of respiratory illnesses, and exercise is proven to improve mental health, lower respiratory risk, enhance immunity and support cardiovascular health. Exercising in the morning maximises the benefit, and increases your “sleep drive” to get good rest at night. Sleeping 7 to 8 hours per night, rather than less, reduces your risk of catching the cold and practising mindfulness through yoga or tai chi can improve your lung capacity, or any underlying lung disease.
- Manage your current health issues adequately, it could be the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, many deaths from Covid are in those with chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes or heart disease (94% in one study of hospital admissions). Improving your lung function if you have emphysema, asthma or other respiratory illnesses, and optimising your heart condition is critical. You’re 5 times more likely to suffer death from Covid with heart disease or diabetes than not, so managing blood pressure, cholesterol, sugar levels and weight is extremely important in order to improve your chances against Covid. Ensure you have had a flu vaccination, had your medications and inhalers reviewed, and had an ECG and heart check done.
- Focus on self-care and your mental health. Over three quarters of Australians have had mental health symptoms this year, therefore consider evidence-based ways to improve your emotional health and look after yourself, by eating a Mediterranean diet (lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes; some poultry, eggs, and dairy products; and less red meat) which can reduce depression by 32%, practicing mindfulness through music, yoga, sleep, daily exercise and having a dog, speaking to a psychologist or your GP, undertaking acupressure, motivational interviewing and biblio-therapy (creative book therapy), and trying validated therapies such as gardening, singing, forest bathing, gratitude, prayer and reading.
A vaccination is just around the corner (likely March), so we can hope to experience a more normal life soon. But until then, it pays to be diligent on all fronts – for the sake of older family members, friends and neighbours, let’s follow the advice of our health experts and look after ourselves and our community.
Stay safe, best wishes and have a healthy Christmas! Don’t hesitate to call the Osana team if you have any concerns or questions before Christmas (we’re online via email@example.com and by phone 13WELL until 3pm Xmas Eve). Tips to stay healthy are in the news section of our website (osana.care) or on our Facebook page.