5-27-2020: Update on COVID-19 recommendations:
This is from a cardiologist at UW, Dr James Stein. He gives us some very thoughtful and informative info on Covid 19. This is long, but well worth it.
COVID-19 update as we start to leave our cocoons. The purpose of this post is to provide a perspective on the intense but expected anxiety so many people are experiencing as they prepare to leave the shelter of their homes. My opinions are not those of my employers and are not meant to invalidate anyone else’s – they simply are my perspective on managing risk.
In March, we did not know much about COVID-19 other than the incredibly scary news reports from overrun hospitals in China, Italy, and other parts of Europe. The media was filled with scary pictures of chest CT scans, personal stories of people who decompensated quickly with shortness of breath, overwhelmed health care systems, and deaths. We heard confusing and widely varying estimates for risk of getting infected and of dying – some estimates were quite high.
Key point #1: The COVID-19 we are facing now is the same disease it was 2 months ago. The “shelter at home” orders were the right step from a public health standpoint to make sure we flattened the curve and didn’t overrun the health care system which would have led to excess preventable deaths. It also bought us time to learn about the disease’s dynamics, preventive measures, and best treatment strategies – and we did. For hospitalized patients, we have learned to avoid early intubation, to use prone ventilation, and that remdesivir probably reduces time to recovery. We have learned how to best use and preserve PPE. We also know that several therapies suggested early on probably don’t do much and may even cause harm (ie, azithromycin, chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir). But all of our social distancing did not change the disease. Take home: We flattened the curve and with it our economy and psyches, but the disease itself is still here.
Key point #2: COVID-19 is more deadly than seasonal influenza (about 5-10x so), but not nearly as deadly as Ebola, Rabies, or Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever where 25-90% of people who get infected die. COVID-19’s case fatality rate is about 0.8-1.5% overall, but much higher if you are 60-69 years old (3-4%), 70-79 years old (7-9%), and especially so if you are over 80 years old (CFR 13-17%). It is much lower if you are under 50 years old (<0.6%). The infection fatality rate is about half of these numbers. Take home: COVID-19 is dangerous, but the vast majority of people who get it, survive it. About 15% of people get very ill and could stay ill for a long time. We are going to be dealing with it for a long time.
Key point #3: SARS-CoV-2 is very contagious, but not as contagious as Measles, Mumps, or even certain strains of pandemic Influenza. It is spread by respiratory droplets and aerosols, not food and incidental contact. Take home: social distancing, not touching our faces, and good hand hygiene are the key weapons to stop the spread. Masks could make a difference, too, especially in public places where people congregate. Incidental contact is not really an issue, nor is food.
What does this all mean as we return to work and public life? COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. It may not go away for a year or two and may not be eradicated for many years, so we have to learn to live with it and do what we can to mitigate (reduce) risk. That means being willing to accept *some* level of risk to live our lives as we desire. I can’t decide that level of risk for you – only you can make that decision. There are few certainties in pandemic risk management other than that fact that some people will die, some people in low risk groups will die, and some people in high risk groups will survive. It’s about probability.
Here is some guidance – my point of view, not judging yours:
1. People over 60 years old are at higher risk of severe disease – people over 70 years old, even more so. They should be willing to tolerate less risk than people under 50 years old and should be extra careful. Some chronic diseases like heart disease and COPD increase risk, but it is not clear if other diseases like obesity, asthma, immune disorders, etc. increase risk appreciably. It looks like asthma and inflammatory bowel disease might not be as high risk as we thought, but we are not sure - their risks might be too small to pick up, or they might be associated with things that put them at higher risk.
People over 60-70 years old probably should continue to be very vigilant about limiting exposures if they can. However, not seeing family – especially children and grandchildren – can take a serious emotional toll, so I encourage people to be creative and flexible. For example, in-person visits are not crazy – consider one, especially if you have been isolated and have no symptoms. They are especially safe in the early days after restrictions are lifted in places like Madison or parts of major cities where there is very little community transmission. Families can decide how much mingling they are comfortable with - if they want to hug and eat together, distance together with masks, or just stay apart and continue using video-conferencing and the telephone to stay in contact. If you choose to intermingle, remember to practice good hand hygiene, don’t share plates/forks/spoons/cups, don’t share towels, and don’t sleep together.
2. Social distancing, not touching your face, and washing/sanitizing your hands are the key prevention interventions. They are vastly more important than anything else you do. Wearing a fabric mask is a good idea in crowded public place like a grocery store or public transportation, but you absolutely must distance, practice good hand hygiene, and don’t touch your face. Wearing gloves is not helpful (the virus does not get in through the skin) and may increase your risk because you likely won’t washing or sanitize your hands when they are on, you will drop things, and touch your face.
3. Be a good citizen. If you think you might be sick, stay home. If you are going to cough or sneeze, turn away from people, block it, and sanitize your hands immediately after.
4. Use common sense. Dial down the anxiety. If you are out taking a walk and someone walks past you, that brief (near) contact is so low risk that it doesn’t make sense to get scared. Smile at them as they approach, turn your head away as they pass, move on. The smile will be more therapeutic than the passing is dangerous. Similarly, if someone bumps into you at the grocery store or reaches past you for a loaf of bread, don’t stress - it is a very low risk encounter, also - as long as they didn’t cough or sneeze in your face (one reason we wear cloth masks in public!).
5. Use common sense, part II. Dial down the obsessiveness. There really is no reason to go crazy sanitizing items that come into your house from outside, like groceries and packages. For it to be a risk, the delivery person would need to be infectious, cough or sneeze some droplets on your package, you touch the droplet, then touch your face, and then it invades your respiratory epithelium. There would need to be enough viral load and the virions would need to survive long enough for you to get infected. It could happen, but it’s pretty unlikely. If you want to have a staging station for 1-2 days before you put things away, sure, no problem. You also can simply wipe things off before they come in to your house - that is fine is fine too. For an isolated family, it makes no sense to obsessively wipe down every surface every day (or several times a day). Door knobs, toilet handles, commonly trafficked light switches could get a wipe off each day, but it takes a lot of time and emotional energy to do all those things and they have marginal benefits. We don’t need to create a sterile operating room-like living space. Compared to keeping your hands out of your mouth, good hand hygiene, and cleaning food before serving it, these behaviors might be more maladaptive than protective.
6. There are few absolutes, so please get comfortable accepting some calculated risks, otherwise you might be isolating yourself for a really, really long time. Figure out how you can be in public and interact with people without fear.
We are social creatures. We need each other. We will survive with and because of each other. Social distancing just means that we connect differently. Being afraid makes us contract and shut each other out. I hope we can fill that space created by fear and contraction with meaningful connections and learn to be less afraid of each of other.
3-22-2020: I am going to try to post more here, during this peculiar and surreal
time, while we semi-quarantine for COVID-19.
1) Thank you to all my patients and my wee staff, for working with me and trying to be as safe as we possibly can.
2) Know that any decision I make has the intent of protecting both you, my patients, and Roger and I, so that we all come through this is the best health possible.
3) We are officially closed to face-to-face visits right now, and for the next two weeks. We'll update with any changes.
4) WE ARE OPEN FOR THE FOLLOWING:
--phone consults. If you need to talk with me, even if you have Medicare, we can do a phone consult. You will be charged the same way you always have been, and Roger will send you a bill. Charges will be related to the amount of time spent on the phone. You can make up a list of questions before you call, to help organize our time better.
--supplements. If you need supplements, we have a "least contact possible" set-up, to allow you to get what you need, one person at a time, people remaining 6 feet apart. Roger can also mail supplements for those who truly don't want to go out.
--phone calls. VERY brief questions regarding dosing on medications or other brief issues will be as per usual--I won't bill you. If your questions get too complicated, however, I will charge you for the time.
5) HOW TO STAY SAFE AND HEALTHY during this time of Coronavirus.
Oh I could go on for hours about this.
First of all contact www.health.PA.gov for updates on all Coronavirus symptoms, treatment, basic prevention, etc.
Second, stay home if you can. And do follow the strong recommendations like washing your hands for 20 seconds (especially when in contact with the outside world, or after touching your face--nose, eyes, mouth), and if out and about staying 6 ft. away from other people.
Third: Stay well hydrated (i.e., divide your weight in half, and drink that number of ounces of water a day). Eat LOTS of veggies and fruits. They are full of what you need to stay healthy all the time. Fibrous veggies and fruits feed the good bugs (microbiome) in your gut, that that then help strengthen your immune system, 70-80% of which is in your gut. Add ginger and garlic, and onions to meals as you are able, as they help your immune system. Great mushrooms to eat are shitaake, oyster, maitake, and even the humble button mushrooms.
Fourth: Many people find that taking extra Vitamin C (either "buffered" or "Ester" Vitamin C) helps viruses. I take 1500 to 3000 mg daily, depending on how I am feeling. If you take too much you'll get loose stools, so just back off the dose or stop until stools normalize.
Elderberry Syrup has been shown to help a lot of people to both prevent viruses, and to help support the body during a viral illness. NO ONE that I know has said this treats or prevents Coronavirus in particular, but if I found out it does, I'll mention it on here. And it likely can't hurt you.
Fifth: Get outdoors, and walk, or just hug a tree. (Yes, hugging trees and your dear ones improve our immune systems). Being outdoors gives you fresh air, connects you with nature in a healing way, and helps reduce "cabin fever".
OF COURSE, if you develop a fever, and especially a fever, then a cough, please contact local hospital system, so they can direct you to the right place to be evaluated. This changes all the time. I am not your best contact on this, as my office is officially closed. Again, www.health.PA.gov.
Please know that I am very very sad that I can't be giving osteopathic treatments at this time, when I know that so many could benefit. I will re-open that part of my practice as soon as we feel it is safe to do so.
Finally--see my entry below about "Restore", now called "Ion."
April 6, 2018; updated 3-22-2020
For the last 4 years I have been using a most remarkable product called "Ion" (used to be called "Restore"). It is a liquid mineral supplement made from lignite that acts as a kind of zipper to close up the openings in the gut that we have come to know as "leaky gut syndrome."
When the "tight junctions" in the small intestine, which are part of the intelligent lining of the gut, are healthy, they allow only the molecules that are SUPPOSED to get into our blood system and travel throughout the body as nutrients, immune support or anti-microbials (for example). However, when those tight junctions have been broken down by prescription antibiotics, pesticides like RoundUp (glyphosate), excessively concentrated gluten (as is typical of our current wheat supply), or other toxins like plastics (which can be hormone disrupters), that intelligent membrane can no longer do its job appropriately. It allows larger molecules and protein complexes to pass through the lining and lodge themselves in places where they should not be. There (brain, heart, blood vessels, joints), those inappropriate substances generate inflammatory changes and wreck havoc with our health.
Ion, because of its unique molecular charge, can close up those holes, and help to both heal your gut, and heal your body (including reducing inflammation in the brain). For more information go to www.Ionbiome.com.
OLDER BLOG (2014?)
The most exciting news I've come across lately is that you can enhance your health tremendously by making a more regular and direct connection with our home planet, Earth. Yes, it is that cheap, available, and simple. Going barefoot outside, especially on nice wet dewy earth, on stone, sand, and unpainted concrete, allows our body to collect negative ions that are plentiful on the earth's crust. These negative ions help to offset the oxidative processes that worsen inflammation. Yes, it's the biggest anti-oxidant known thus far to me, and you don't have to swallow a pill for it.
Ever since the mid 1900's most of us Americans have been wearing rubber-soled shoes. Rubber is not a good conductor. Before then, we either had leather-soled shoes, or went barefoot, and got to have this robust contact with these healing ions. Electrical creatures that we are, we thrive in the right bio-chemical environment.
Beware: wooden decks and painted cement don't work.
If you'd like to read more about this, go to www.mercola.com, and read or listen to the interview with Dr. James Oschman (just put "earthing" in the search box, and then look for Dr. Oschman interview). Or just go to the www.earthing.com
In gratitude for access to such knowledge
Marianne Herr-Paul, D.O.