Four months into the coronavirus pandemic, San Franciscans have so far done a great job at keeping coronavirus (COVID-19) numbers at bay and the numbers of deaths low. But now, there is a resurgence of coronavirus across the U.S., and in California, rates are increasing, including in San Francisco. People are getting tired: from Zoom fatigue, “maskne” (acne from wearing masks), political and racial tensions, financial uncertainty, all on top of the pandemic.
Now is not the time to let your guard down. One of the principles of naturopathic medicine is prevention. Frequent hand washing, physical distancing, and wearing your mask when in close contact with others is going to greatly help reduce spread within San Francisco and is the basic minimum preventative measures that we can control and incorporate into our daily lives.
My naturopathic medical and acupuncture office is set up as best as possible to limit exposure for safety precautions. Masks are required and hand sanitizer is available upon entry. Whether for a naturopathic appointment or acupuncture, initially, we will sit 6 feet apart with a sneeze guard between us during the intake. In addition, the window will be open, a fan will be circulating the air, and an Air Doctor will filter particles including viruses out of the air. Gloves and face shields are available if closer contact is necessary.
Whether you decide to come in for an appointment for naturopathic medicine or acupuncture or opt instead for a telemedicine appointment, this is the time to start focusing on improving your overall health. Whether you have an underlying health condition that puts you at greater risk of side effects of coronavirus like diabetes or hypertension, susceptible to catching frequent colds, or a more serious health condition like an autoimmune disease, taking control of your health should always be a priority. Naturopathic doctors look to not only treat symptoms but the underlying cause as well. Taking steps to achieve optimal health not only leads to a higher quality of life in the present, but it is also an action to prevent deteriorating health in the future.
While focusing on your optimal health, it is also important to keep aware of and on guard of the possibility of coming down with coronavirus (COVID-19). The top symptoms reported for coronavirus infections are fever, shortness of breath, and cough. However, difficulty breathing, headaches, sore throat, chills, and loss of taste or smell can also occur. However, many can also be asymptomatic carriers of coronavirus making it more difficult to stop the spread of the virus. The next level of preventative measures we have accessible to us in San Francisco is testing. Whether you have symptoms or not, an essential worker or protester, it is worth getting tested if you are in contact with people outside your household. The city of San Francisco offers free testing located in the Embarcadero and SOMA districts. You can visit their website via www.sf.gov/GetTestedSF.
Since I am in contact with people outside my household, I plan to be tested every two weeks to ensure the safety of my patients and the people around me. My last visit to get tested (July 16th), the entire process from driving into the testing area to leaving was a total of 10 minutes. The test was completed while I was sitting in my car with a nasal swab that lasted less than a minute. My results came in via text and email 30 hours later, and after confirming my birthdate on the website given, I received my negative test results.
With the increased rates of coronavirus, the laboratories are getting overwhelmed with test kits, and healthcare providers are asked to only test those people with symptoms at this time. If you have any of the symptoms or have been exposed to anyone with the coronavirus symptoms, self-isolation is warranted for 14 days. The incubation period for the coronavirus, the time from catching the virus to showing symptoms, is 3 to 14 days with the average being 5 days.
During the time of self-isolation, there are still many naturopathic measures that can be done to help support the immune system. Eating healthy, hydrating well, getting adequate sleep, and taking supportive supplements can improve your overall well-being and stamina. In addition, it is difficult to be in isolation, but taking the time to set goals to maintain a positive attitude is essential. Whether it is focusing on a healthy diet plan, an exercise program, an art project, or reading, a lot can be achieved within the two week time period. And in San Francisco, you can still soak in some sunshine while strolling on the beach or Golden Gate Park while wearing a mask and maintaining physical distancing.
If you are unlucky enough to have the coronavirus and exhibiting symptoms, it is even more important to take additional measures to take control of your health. Staying at home and getting rest, and taking anti-inflammatory supplements to combat symptoms.
If you experience difficulty breathing, chest pain, mental confusion, or bluish lips or face, it is time to go to the hospital. There is little published on the long term effects of the coronavirus yet. However, there are many known effects of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Studies from SARS (2003), also a coronavirus, has risks of lung scarring that can lead to being prone to further infections, as well as “neurocognitive impairment such as memory deficit and impaired attention and concentration, and psychological impairment such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.” 1
Chronic fatigue syndrome is commonly known to occur after having a viral infection such as Epstein Barr virus (EBV), known to cause mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus (CMV), and human herpesvirus 6 (HHV6). These viruses are thought to trigger autoimmune diseases, resulting in fatigue, muscle aches, and pains. The thyroid gland is often affected as well and can lead to autoimmune thyroid. Other post-viral immune complications are also being seen with COVID-19.
There is so much we do not know yet about coronavirus (COVID-19). However, we do know that prevention is our best bet. If you are living in San Francisco (and/or in California for telemedicine appointments), and want to know more about Naturopathic Medicine and how it can help your immune system and overall health, contact us at Bay Natural Medicine.
1 Hui DS, Joynt GM, Wong KT, et al. Impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) on pulmonary function, functional capacity and quality of life in a cohort of survivors. Thorax2005;60:401–9.