Information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) for patients
With the emergence of cases of COVID-19 in Washington state, we understand our patients have both growing concerns and questions. At Cascade Integrative Medicine, the health and safety of our patients is our top priority, and we are working diligently to educate our patients and staff about the virus. While education and preventative measures are crucial, it’s important to understand that, at present, the immediate health risk for the general public is low.
Key considerations pertaining to COVID-19
- CIM is open and continuing to see patients
- We ask that you notify the front desk when making an appointment if you are experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms
- All patients being seen at the clinic with respiratory symptoms will be asked to wear a face mask
- Face masks are recommended only for those experiencing respiratory symptoms, and are not recommended for healthy individuals
- The best ways to protect yourself include avoiding close contact with individuals who are sick, practicing good hygiene, and taking measures to support your immune system – read on for more specific tips!
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people, as well as many species of animals. The virus which is causing the current public health emergency is SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes has been called “coronavirus disease 2019”, which is abbreviated COVID-19. The epicenter of the virus was Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, though it has now spread internationally, and cases have been reported in Washington state. Transmission of the virus between people requires close contact (within about six feet) and is spread through respiratory droplets, such as when an individual coughs or sneezes.
Risk of Exposure
The immediate risk of being exposed to the coronavirus remains low for most Americans, but as the outbreak expands, the risk increases. Both the number of infections and instances of community spread being reported are increasing nationwide.
Risk factors for the virus include:
- People in places where ongoing community spread of COVID-19 has been reported are at higher risk of exposure, with the level of risk dependent on the location.
- Close contact with persons infected with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with level of risk dependent on where they traveled.
- Individuals who have been in contact with someone with COVID-19
- Healthcare workers or caregivers for patients with COVID-19
Risk to Develop Severe Illness
Preliminary information out of China, where the COVID-19 pandemic began, indicates that some people are at higher risk of getting very ill from coronavirus infection.
Risk factors include:
- Older adults, with risk increasing by age.
- People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Lung disease
Symptoms of COVID-19 are mild to severe respiratory symptoms and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms typically occur 2-14 days following exposure to the virus. There is currently no vaccine or treatment available for COVID-19. Supportive treatments can be given to help relieve symptoms.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth
- Stay home when sick and limit contact with other people, as well as with pets
- Cover your face when sneezing or cough, preferably with tissue, and then dispose of the tissue immediately after
- Clean and disinfect “high traffic” surfaces (i.e. doorknobs, countertops, keyboards etc.)
- Practice good hygiene, and wash your hands, especially after using the restroom. If you are unable to wash your hands with soap and water, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Avoid traveling if you have cold or flu-like symptoms. If traveling is unavoidable and you are symptomatic, wear a mask and take immune supportive measures.
How to Support Your Immune System
- Drink plenty of water – Filtered, lemon water in the morning is a nice way to start the day and offers vitamin C, as well as alkalinization to the system
- Get enough sleep – ideally at least eight hours per night
- Reduce stress and utilize stress management techniques – Stress management is crucial to support the immune system, as cortisol (the hormone the body secretes when under stress) weakens the body’s defenses
- Eat a healthy diet – The diet plays a huge role in our response to viruses and secondary complications. Aim to follow an anti-inflammatory diet and try to avoid dairy, sugar, alcohol and refined grains, as these tend to be pro-inflammatory. Reducing high-arginine foods and increasing high-lysine foods (these foods can be found with a quick google search) is another way to strengthen the body’s response to viral infections.
- Support your immune system – Vitamin D, vitamin A, liposomal vitamin C, NAC, zinc and herbal antiviral formulas are all immune supportive. If you buy supplements outside our office, check to be sure there is third party quality control to ensure a potent formulation.
- Protect your lungs – If you are smoking (marijuana or nicotine), vaping, or are chronically exposed to mold or toxic airborne chemicals, take steps to reduce the daily insult to the lungs and consider buying a high-quality air filter. Costco has some great deals on these. It may also be helpful to bring one to work if you work in close quarters with others. If you have asthma, COPD, or any other condition that compromises lung health, it’s important that you keep such conditions under tight control. Make sure that your medications are dialed in, and you have enough medication on hand.
- Keep essential oils on hand – Virtually all essential oils are anti-microbial. Carrying around an essential oil (i.e., thyme, eucalyptus, tea tree, etc.) and inhaling the essential can have an antimicrobial effect on the respiratory mucosa. We advise against applying essential oils directly to the skin unless directed otherwise, as many are unsafe topically in their pure form.
Coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) Antibody (IgG) Testing is Now Available at CIM
Cascade Integrative Medicine is now offering screening visits for those who would like to be tested for SARS-CoV2 IgG antibodies. We are using the IgG SARS-CoV2 test provided by Quest Diagnostics. If this test is not covered by insurance, the out of pocket cost is $55. We are asking that you schedule a short screening visit with your provider so that we may order this test.
The antibodies we will test you for are IgG antibodies. This specific antibody usually forms at a slower pace than acute antibodies (IgM antibodies form within 4-10 days of contracting the virus) and theoretically should help to protect your system should it encounter the virus again. What is important to understand, however, is that globally we are still learning a lot about this virus, and we do not know with certainty that having the IgG antibodies will prevent you from becoming ill from SARS-CoV2 a second time, but experts suggest it should.
The purpose of this test is to help you and your provider understand if you have been exposed to and/or infected with the SARS-CoV2 virus, which causes COVID-19 disease and either had a symptomatic or asymptomatic infection that you have recovered from. What this test does NOT tell us is if you are currently infected with SARS-CoV2 virus which causes COVID-19. If you have had a symptomatic illness that you suspect may have been caused by SARS-CoV2, you must have been asymptomatic for at least 10 days in order for the IgG antibody test to be useful.
Other important information about IgG antibody testing is that there are people who take longer than 10 days to make IgG antibodies, and there are people who will never make the IgG antibodies. So, it is still important, even after the antibody testing, to follow the CDC and local health department guidelines for safe social distancing.