We’ve all heard about it. The novel coronavirus that triggers the sickness now being called CoVID-19. It all started in Wuhan, China and now it’s spread through more than half of the countries around the globe. In the United States, confirmed cases have almost doubled since this time yesterday (between March 6 and March 7, 2020), so I am spending some of my birthday, and the day after, working on this piece for you.
I am most definitely not a medical doctor, and no part of this article is meant to replace a doctor’s advice or orders. If you think you are sick with this virus, please visit your doctor/urgent care/ER. I am simply a citizen who likes to be well-informed and I think you might benefit from this knowledge, as well! While I am a Wellness Advocate and do promote non-toxic, healthful cleaning products, I have to remind you that doTERRA products are not intended to cure, diagnose or treat any disease.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a widespread, very huge family of virii. There are several different classifications of them, like alphacoronavirus, betacoronavirus, etc. The one that is all over the news and making so many people sick is a betacoronavirus, but in the grand scheme of things, it is only really important for researchers and some doctors to truly understand that and what it means. For you and me, there’s a much easier way to understand this virus.
Coronaviruses are the main family of virii that cause the flu. Yes, we get flu outbreaks every single year. They usually start sometime in the fall, peak near the end of winter or start of spring, and end sometime in the springtime. Most of us have at least some natural immunity to these flu viruses because our bodies have been fighting them off every year for our entire lives. Sometimes, though, a new cousin in this virus family emerges from the shadows and all heck breaks loose. We went through a similar time with SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), Avian Flu (Bird Flu, H5N1), Swine Flu (H1N1) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). All of these, including COVID-19, are known to have come to the human population through zoonotic transmission, meaning that it came from animals and was transmitted to humans. Because it normally attacks animals, our immune systems aren’t specifically equipped to deal with the exact virus and it tends to cause a more severe illness in us than other strains that we are used to fighting off every year. Simply because we aren’t used to fighting it off. While it is similar to other types of coronavirus, it is also different in enough ways that our bodies can have a hard time recognizing it and fighting it off before it has a chance to make us really sick.
What Are Good Preventative Measures?
There are several things you can do to minimize the chances that you will become infected with this virus. Most are pretty easy, too!
- Be a diligent hand-washer. Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds each time. That’s about how long it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song slowly and calmly. If you are in doubt, use the time-honored “one-mississippi, two-mississippi, three-mississippi” until you reach “twenty-mississippi”, then rinse the soap away and dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. Some of my favorite cleansers are:
- Clean your house and clothing with products that will be effective sanitizing agents. I know the CDC and WHO recommend cleaning with bleach and a specific list of products that they have promoted. I’m not going to tell you not to use those products because, to be honest, they do what they feel is best for the people under their charge within the limitations that they have on their position and office. I can tell you, though, that their recommended products are only a small list of products that have the big money, backing, and the good fortune of being produced by pharmaceutical giants who can afford to shell out the big bucks to stay in the commercial spotlight. You should most definitely clean your home and laundry with products that you feel comfortable using to sanitize your home during this time. Personally, the only cleaning products that I trust to use are shown below (hint: you can mix the Cleaner Concentrate with isopropyl alcohol in the dilution stage)
Who Can Get It & How Sick Will I Be?
Anyone can get it. Those who are immunocompromised are more at risk, naturally. Generally, at-risk people are those who are undergoing chemotherapy, the very old, the very young, pregnant women. More severe illness is likely to be seen in those with preexisting conditions that could exacerbate the illness symptoms, like diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, COPD, asthma, and the like. If you think about it, that’s just like our regular flu that we face every year and it’s really common sense: if you already have a condition that makes it hard to breathe, hard to regulate your body, or makes coughing harder on your body, you are more likely to have a lot more issues with the flu. It’s the same with COVID-19, but the caveat is that COVID-19 is known to cause more severe symptoms in people who DON’T have preexisting conditions, much less those who do.
What Should I Expect If I Get Sick?
Expect to fight the flu. It will probably be a doozie of a flu! You’ll most likely feel lethargic and tired, achy, fight a fever, runny nose, sneezing, and coughing. Lots of coughing because this virus causes what the old-timers used to call a “chest cold”, but on the level of the flu instead of a mild cold. If you do start coughing, you want to keep coughing as much as your body tells you to. You might have trouble breathing, or feel like you are wheezing or rattling in your chest. If you feel this, you should go to your doctor, urgent care or ER for care because the odds are you don’t have the equipment at home to help clear your lungs. The good news is that most people aren’t going to need that level of care. Most of you are going to be fine dealing with it on your own at home, but if you are having any doubts at all, please go get medical attention asap! Call before you get there and let them know your symptoms and that you are on the way so they can get ready for you. If you get sick, severely or not, please take common-sense measures to keep other people from catching it from you. Things like covering your coughs and sneezes, frequent hand washing and sanitizing, even wearing a face mask when you are around other people (even a kerchief or cloth around your face is better than nothing). If you are caring for someone who is sick (or you are sick yourself), make sure to protect yourself from becoming ill by frequent hand washing, sanitizing, hydration, face and eye protection and avoiding all contact with body fluids, Wear gloves when handling dirty tissues, clothing, bed linens, etc. Sick people should stay hydrated at all costs! Dehydration only compounds illness onto illness! Chicken soup/broth, bone broth, Gatorade and good old fashioned plain water are great choices for hydration. Do what you can to keep a sick person’s spirits up! Laying flat is as bad for your lungs as it is for your mood… sick people should sit up as much as they can tolerate, and walk around when possible. With this illness attacking lungs, pay attention to elevation and prop yourself or your loved ones up when it helps keep their airways clear.
Please, please, please! AVOID ANTIBIOTICS unless your doctor prescribes them for you for this illness!
COVID-19 is caused by a VIRUS. Antibiotics fight bacteria. Plainly, antibiotics will only do more harm than good if you have a viral infection and take antibiotics for it. In addition to not killing the virus inside your body making you sick, the antibiotics can kill off helpful gut flora bacteria and give you diarrhea. So please, only use antibiotics if your doctor tells you that you need them and take them exactly as prescribed.
Since the treatment of a viral infection is mostly supportive, the focus is on making you feel better as your body fights the virus. The biggest thing here is hydration. I can’t state it enough! Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink whatever you can tolerate best. Get as much water into your system as you can. The reason for this is two-fold:
- If you get dehydrated, that is another problem entirely and can be life-threatening! Don’t get dehydrated!
- Your body will filter out as much virus load as it can and send it out in your waste. The more waste your body produces, the better. You want to urinate often, and the color should be a transparent light yellow. Anything darker than that indicates you need more hydration. Even if you can’t handle food, do your best to stay hydrated.
If you can’t maintain enough hydration, you may need to visit urgent care or your local ER for IV fluids to help you. You can tell if you are reaching critical dehydration if any of the following apply to you: your urine turns a very dark color; you feel weak; your heart rate is abnormal; your respiration is abnormal. Don’t wait: go immediately for help. Water is always the top choice, but Gatorade is a close second, especially if you are having trouble getting solid foods into your system. Other good choices are juices (white grape is awesome if you are able to eat, go for apple if you can’t eat so it helps to maintain your blood glucose levels), green tea and Pedialyte. Avoid caffeine where possible and please try your best to avoid carbonated beverages, especially while you are sick. Teas should be made weak so there’s plenty of water in there and if you have trouble tasting the beverage, try dipping a toothpick into your favorite doTERRA ingestion-safe essential oil (it will have a Supplement Facts label on the bottle) and then swirl it in. When you swirl in a toothpick of EO, keep in mind that mint type EOs like peppermint are good for congestion and ginger can help calm nausea.
I said before that when it comes to a viral illness, the only option is usually going to be supportive care while the body fights the illness. Supportive care includes things that make symptoms feel better. Here is my go-to list of things I keep stocked up near anyone who is fighting a flu-like illness in my home:
- onGuard Throat Drops to soothe the throat, Breathe Respiratory Drops to help feelings of congestion and Ginger Drops to soothe irritated tummies.
- Breathe Vapor Stick to help feelings of congestion and it is also nicely cooling when you are feeling hot!
- Peppermint Touch to rub on the back of necks and bottoms of feet of those who are feeling hot.
- F.L.O.O.M. rollerbottle that gets rubbed over lymph nodes and/or the bottoms of the feet while you are feeling sick. To make F.L.O.O.M., get an empty roller and add in 10 drops (5 drops each for kids under 10 and pregnant women, 3 drops each for elderly and 1-2 drops each for infants), each essential oils of Frankincense, Lemon, OnGuard, Oregano, and Melaleuca (Tea Tree), then top off with a carrier oil like coconut oil. This blend is to help boost your natural immune system.
- Ginger Essential Oil and toothpicks to swirl into glasses of water for a quick and yummy flat ginger drink when tummies are nauseous.
- Infrared thermometer for touch-free temp checks
- Pulse Oximeter to check for elevated heart rates or lowered blood O2 levels
- DigestZen Touch to rub on tummies that are nauseous or having stool issues
- Diffuser beside the sick person, stocked with useful essential oils like onGuard (suspended vapor in the air actually helps to clean the air!), Breathe (for feelings of congestion), DigestZen (for upset stomachs), Lemon (also cleans the air nicely and is a great pick-me-up). Not only do the essential oil vapors help support us through some yucky symptoms, but they also provide a nice, humid mist that can alleviate some breathing difficulties.
- A notepad and pen to keep track of symptoms, times of symptom onset and relief, times of administering medicines, etc. Sick people tend to forget, and so do exhausted caregivers! Notes are great reminders.
- Plenty of tissues and a small trash can or trash bag for dirty tissues.
- onGuard Sanitizing Mist and make sure it is used after every sneeze, cough and nose blow. A few backup bottles wouldn’t hurt!
- Deep Blue Rub for sore muscles can make a big difference!
- 1-2 different sets of clothes and blankets. Someone with a fever should be dressed and covered lightly, whereas without a fever you might feel more comfortable in warmer clothes or a heavier blanket. Comfort is key here so you can rest easy and get better sooner!
- Entertainment! Books, tablets, cell phones, laptops, game consoles, etc, with charging cables plugged in. Getting annoyed and bored while you are sick is a great way to be miserable, fast. For very little kids, try giving some extra screen time and encouraging them to enjoy some puzzle games while you sit for a few. Strict screen time routines can always start back up when they are feeling better and you have rested some. Mess-free or low-mess craft projects are also very fun for small kids who are sick! It is a way to keep them occupied, keep their minds off of feeling sick while keeping them seated or propped up in bed.
- An extra big pillow to hold. Coughing is a big part of this illness and coughing a lot over many days not only exhausts you, but it is also a huge strain on your muscles. Holding a big pillow tight against your stomach and diaphragm while you cough can provide some relief to those sore muscles and make it a little easier to keep coughing.
Other Things To Keep In Mind
COVID-19 is a coronavirus that triggers a flu-like illness that usually affects the lungs more than any other part of the body. You may have diarrhea. You may have nausea or vomiting. You may not. You will probably run a fever and feel like crap for a little while. You will probably feel like you are going to cough up a lung at any moment. As with other chest cold type illnesses, keep on coughing. You’ll cough up sputum and phlegm and should spit it out. Coughing up that stuff is your body’s way of keeping it out of your lungs, so keep coughing when you feel like you need to. If you can’t catch your breath, find it hard to breathe or your chest feels abnormal when you breathe, just suck it up and go to the doctor or the ER if you can’t get to a doc. This virus is known to cause pneumonia in some people, so don’t risk it. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Even if you haven’t traveled outside of the country, gone to Italy, China or Iran, or been around anyone who has that you know of. Community spread of this disease is real and happening now so don’t risk it. Do you honestly know the travel and medical history of every person who you were within 12 feet of the last time you went to the grocery store or to church or to the pharmacy?
This virus is at a pandemic level, meaning a global epidemic in many countries. It is affecting shipments, trade, and stocks. Some countries, like China, for example, have totally ceased manufacturing for the time being. Be prepared for long-term shortages. Don’t go nuts and run to the grocery store to stock up on water and toilet paper! Be sensible. If you feel the unwavering desire to stock up on toilet paper, grab yourself a nice big family pack and head home, but don’t grab TEN family packs! That’s a bit excessive. Get canned and shelf-stable foods that will keep for a while. If you don’t need it immediately, it will last a bit and you won’t have to buy it again for a while, but make sure you are getting things you actually use. Frozen vegetables are great, last a long time in your freezer, and are very nutritious if prepared gently like steamed or sauteed. Pasta and pasta sauces will last a long time and go great with steamed veggies. A good source of shelf-stable protein is peanut butter! Unopened jellies, preserves, and applesauce can be kept on the shelf for months, only needing refrigeration once opened. Cloth diapers make GREAT reusable cleaning cloths, cutting down or even eliminating your need for paper towels to stock up on.
Buying sanitizer is great, but don’t get every bottle the store has! Your neighbors also need to get theirs, too. If you are unfortunate enough to have missed out and it’s sold out near you, you can make your own out of 60-70% alcohol and the rest with water. Adding essential oils can make it smell nice and add additional antimicrobial effect if you use the right ones. Aloe or glycerine added to the mix can make it more gentle on your skin. Alcohol like vodka, gin or Everclear, and denatured ethanol can be used as a substitute for isopropyl alcohol in a pinch. Put it all in a spray bottle and use it as a spray sanitizer, shaking before you spray each time.
So, in a nutshell: yes, this virus sucks and it is making a lot of people very sick. If you think you may have it and are having trouble breathing, go to get medical help immediately. If you don’t need immediate medical help, treat it as you would any other flu virus and take care of yourself and your loved ones. Avoid spreading it around and keep your loved ones healthy. Don’t go nuts stocking up on supplies unnecessarily, but also don’t feel bad about getting what you need. Just keep it within reason.