COVID-19 is called a ‘novel coronavirus’ because it is new and we don’t yet have all the information or ideal protocols developed for prevention or treatment of an infection. We are learning more about the science of COVID19 daily and I am trying to keep up with the information and apply my knowledge and experience to best advocate for my patients.
With the cases, hospitalizations, and deaths on the rise both locally and nationally, the harsh reality is setting in that this virus is not going away anytime soon. I wanted to share some of what I have learned so far so that patients can understand how LTIM can serve you during this time. As in all infections and diseases, there are different phases of COVID19: prevention, treatment, recovery. An integrative approach can address all 3 phases. However, I do want to be careful to note that I am not on call all the time and if I cannot be reached and you need emergency or urgent care- GET IT!
Now, let’s drill down on the 3 Phases:
Prevention is also discussed in our Internal PPE blog. Consider adding Zinc, NAC, Quercetin and Vitamins A, D, and C to your supplement regimen to help support a healthy immune response. I do however, want to be sure to emphasize here that more is not always better. It is wise to have me or your trusted healthcare provider review what you are taking to make sure there are no interactions with your medications or other supplements- and that you are consuming safe amounts and dosages.
During the prevention phase, we are aiming to limit your exposure and viral load in various ways & lowering inflammation so that you have a higher threshold if you do get sick. Identifying risk factors you can control and addressing those is a great first step. This is a great opportunity to review your controllable risk factors for COVID19 and well as other health issues so we can have a plan tailored to you. Let’s use this time wisely.
I want to reiterate that this is a novel virus and information is evolving. I also want to share that as with other viruses, we may not have a true “treatment” but we do have ways to support your body during infection. I also need to note that we are not equipped to see sick patients here in the office, but are available virtually via phone or video.
I like to delineate infection into two phases: early and late; and apply what we already know about the immune system. This too needs to be individualized. Navigating the give and take between early adequate immune activation for decreasing viral load versus maintaining some inflammation for the body’s natural immune response to occur are important to recognize in this process.
(1) Early Support
Usually in the first 10 days of infection, we can focus on symptom relief and immune supports well as maintaining a healthy inflammatory response. During this phase, we recommend discussing a plan with me that includes addressing any anxiety you and your loved ones may have. I recommend monitoring your oxygen levels with a pulse ox. Potassium, additional NAC, Glutathione, PEA, and APM Active are all examples of things that may be good to keep on hand to help lessen symptoms and promote recovery.
(2) Late Support (inflammation phase)
We are trying to avoid the cytokine storm in both early and late phases. If there is evidence of escalating inflammation or preexisting conditions, then more aggressive support may be needed. This is also what our hospitals are here for-to provide more intense support if symptoms become unmanageable at home. In the news you may have heard about Remdesivir and Dexamethasone, as well as IV vitamin C and lying in a prone position. We keep learning, and although I do not practice in the hospital setting anymore, I am doing my best to stay up to date on the latest modalities being utilized and applying them as I see fit for my patients.
For more extreme cases of COVID19 as well as in some mild cases, a cascade of immune consequences can occur. These can cause damage from the inflammation and require more attention to return to regular function. We don’t know exactly all of the effects COVID19 can have on the body’s systems. Even in more mild cases, some people have struggled with post infection consequences and bizarre new symptoms. There is a phenomena being described as post COVID Syndrome in which the autonomic nervous system is impacted. This dance with the immune system and inflammation is not new to Integrative and Functional Medicine and not so new to some of you.
Again, no matter what happens we will address what is happening with YOU and I will be your advocate.
For further reading, this article does a great job discussing these phases and approaches if you want to dive in deeper.