Improve your immunity to respiratory infections and your chances against Covid-19.

Address any symptoms:

  • Do not use Nurofen (Ibuprofen) for any cold or flu-like symptoms – it may lead to more severe Covid-19 illness, as declared by the World Health Organisation as of 17 March 2020. Ibuprofen has been banned in France for fever or respiratory symptoms. Use Panadol (paracetamol) instead.
  • Ensure you get on top of any ongoing, undiagnosed symptoms – red flags to watch are any cough (especially at night), fever or chills, shortness of breath, headache, fatigue, chest tightness, dizziness, frequent urination, excessive thirst and visual disturbance. Any of these symptoms could point to underlying chronic illness, or signal that known conditions are not well managed, leading to a reduction in your body’s reserve and capacity to deal with new infections.

Stabilise your illnesses:

  • Maximise lung function – Covid-19 is a respiratory infection resulting in interstitial pneumonia in severe cases (tearing apart the lungs, leading to shortness of breath, and inadequate breathing and oxygenation to the body). Everyone with asthma or lung disease should have spirometry (breathing test) to pick up any undiagnosed asthma (remember Thunderstorm asthma in Melbourne, it can happen in adulthood) and to assess overall lung capacity each year. Review your inhalers and show your GP, nurse or pharmacist how you use them. Get an asthma action plan or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, including illnesses like emphysema) symptom plan
  • Control blood pressure – there has been intense debate about whether certain BP medications exacerbate Covid-19 or enable it to attack the body more severely; at current, the leading cardiologists and pathologists do not believe there is adequate information to warrant drastic changes to hypertensive therapy. However we are observing that Covid-19 cases ending up in Intensive Care (ICU) tend to have much higher blood pressure readings, therefore it is critical to control blood pressure early within the accepted clinical range (130/80).
  • Optimise heart function – severe cardiac damage and inflammation appears to be a significant factor in Covid-19 fatalities. Respiratory infections can act as a trigger for heart attacks – you are 17 times more likely to have heart attacks within a week of a respiratory infection. Anyone with heart disease must make sure they see their GP or cardiologist to stay as healthy as possible. This includes reviewing active risk factors for cardiac dysfunction (smoking, cholesterol, blood pressure, obesity, inactivity, fluid overload, alcohol excess, uncontrolled diabetes, anxiety and stress) . Everyone over 45 years old should have a heart health check with their GP (ECG, blood tests and risk factor assessment).
  • Control diabetes – keeping tight control of sugar levels is important because in diabetes, there are greater levels of an enzyme that Covid-19 binds to in the body (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2). Having diabetes means a 2 or 3 fold likelihood of Covid-19 infection, and during influenza pandemics, people with diabetes are 6 times more likely to be hospitalised. Excessively high or low sugars levels can result in poor fluid balance, increased susceptibility for infections and reduced body reserve, which will fair poorly if there is concurrent respiratory infection. Monitor your temperature and blood sugar levels often if you are on insulin, and ensure annual feet, eye, blood and weight checks if you have been diagnosed with diabetes.
  • Improve kidney function – keep hydrated and ensure you minimise any unnecessary medications that are cleared through the kidneys. If you take more than 5 medications, you are eligible for a medication review by a pharmacist – ask your GP.

If you have any questions or concerns, please book a consultation with an Osana GP on 13WELL.

References:

  • https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/03/these-underlying-conditions-make-coronavirus-more-severe-and-they-are-surprisingly-common/
  • https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30566-3/fulltext
  • https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m1086
  • https://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/avoid-self-medication-with-ibuprofen-against-covid-19-symptoms-who
  • https://www.nature.com/articles/s41569-020-0360-5?fbclid=IwAR0s5PyP3ENujdUHyFPHSWsGoIsnvBI3PbZnmTLW_ifX5vCIMXulHqyZo2g
  • https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/understand-your-risks-to-prevent-a-heart-attack
  • https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30116-8/fulltext
  • https://www.the-hospitalist.org/hospitalist/article/219144/diabetes/covid-19-extra-caution-needed-patients-diabetes/page/0/1
  • https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/925681
  • https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170515111601.htm
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3354930/