As the COVID-19 (or the coronavirus) pandemic sweeps across the United States and countries around the world, millions of us are reeling on what to expect next as we hunker down and navigate through these unprecedented times.
Entire states have canceled school. People have rushed to the stores to stock up on food and basic essentials – leaving shelves empty (and a massive toilet paper shortage). Some cities are even enacting “shelter in place” orders – requiring people to stay home except for essential activities like going to health appointments and work or going out for groceries and exercise.
With all the media reports surrounding this disease and the deadly outcomes it can have, many are wondering what you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community overall?
Well, the doctors at AlignLife are here to help. But before we dive in on what you should do, let’s talk about some of the facts surrounding COVID-19.
What we know about the COVID-19 (coronavirus)
The term coronavirus actually refers to a handful of diseases that have been around for some time. In fact, it’s pretty common. Most coronaviruses cause infection in the nose, sinus and upper throat. The severity of symptoms can range from mild ― like the common cold ― to more serious symptoms that affect your lungs can lead to hospitalization. Both SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) were caused by coronaviruses.
What’s different about this particular strain (COVID-19) is that it’s what medical experts call novel, meaning it’s never been identified in humans before. Prior to showing up in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019, COVID-19 had only lived in animals. It’s what the World Health Organization (WHO) calls “a spillover event.”
From what has been reported, COVID-19 is mainly spread person to person, likely through respiratory droplets when someone coughs or sneezes. That’s similar to what we know about influenza, right? But what is different is the speed that COVID-19 spreads and how long it takes for people to experience symptoms after exposure. Here’s a great breakdown of how influenza and COVID-19 compare.
COVID-19 Can Live on Surfaces for Up to a Few Days
While there’s a lot we still don’t know about the virus, new studies are emerging that show coronaviruses are detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. This helps us understand the fast spread of the disease and the reality we are living in right now.
COVID-19 also hits those in the highest risk group for severe complications particularly hard if they contract it. This includes people over 65, anyone who may be immunocompromised, and those with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, liver disease, diabetes and lung disease.
While the CDC reports that most people who get COVID-19 will be able to recover at home, COVID-19 can lead to major health problems like shortness of breath, pneumonia and organ failure. How fast you recover and the length and severity of your systems depends on the strength of your immune system.
The Best Defense Against COVID-19 and Other Viruses
Because COVID-19 has never been seen in humans before, there is no existing knowledge on how to control this specific strain’s spread. There is also no known treatment for this virus (antibiotics don’t work). That’s why the best defense against COVID-19 (beyond social distancing) is your body’s own immune system.
“As with any cold and flu virus, your best defense is building a strong, proactive immune system,” shares Dr. Joseph Esposito, CEO and founder of AlignLife. “What many people don’t realize is that chiropractic does more than help people with back pain. Preliminary reseach has shown evidence that it may also boost your immune system functions.”
How Chiropractic Boosts Your Immune System
Let’s break down how chiropractic may help boost your immune system. One normal drop of blood contains 5 million red blood cells, 7,000 white blood cells and thousands of platelets. When a virus enters your body, your nervous system (aka your body’s master computer) gets to work to enhance the immune response and defend your body.
“When your spine is misaligned and your in pain, research shows that it forces your body to switch to a heightened state of stress (similar to being in battle). Increased stress hormone weakens the immune system and makes you more susceptible to infection,” continues Dr. Joseph Esposito. “The nervous system controls your immune system so when your nervous system is compromised, your immune system is compromised. ”
But here’s the interesting (and best defense) part. Preliminary research has shown people who receive regular adjustments report stronger immunity after beginning chiropractic care.
Chiropractic Treatments Help Trigger Immune Response
“Preliminary research shows that patients who received chiropractic adjustments showed an increased level of a specific signaling molecule in the body called Interleukin-2,” shares Dr. Joseph Esposito. “The incredible thing about this is that Interleukin-2 is responsible for regulating your white blood cells. We all know white blood cells are tied to your immunity. According to the study, the patients saw an increase of Interleukin-2 — that immune-boosting signaling molecule — in their blood within just 15 minutes of an adjustment. And it was still elevated 2 hours later!”
That makes keeping or even making an appointment to see your local chiropractor even more important during this global pandemic. It also happens to be one of the five basic things Dr. Kevin Day, AlignLife Warsaw, recommends you do to keep your immune system working at its best. Check out what he has to say here:
Bottom Line on COVID-19
Optimizing your overall health and wellbeing is the best way to fight any virus you come into contact with whether it is a common cold, COVID-19, influenza and many other viruses out there. The likelihood of being exposed to this virus at some point is high, whether it is this year or the years to follow. The best approach is to maintain a healthy body and immune system, practice good hygiene techniques, and follow the recommendations for helping slow the spread when necessary. AlignLife is committed to being your healthcare provider through this global pandemic.
Disclosure: It is not the opinion of the author or AlignLife that chiropractic will “cure”, “heal” or “prevent” COVID-19 or any viral infection. It is the opinion of the author that chiropractic care along with other lifestyle measures may enhance the innate immune system to help an individual fight against any infection.
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Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
New England Journal of Medicine: Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1 (March 17, 2020) – https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMc2004973
NCBI, Chiropractic & Osteopathy: Enhancement of in vitro interleukin-2 production in normal subjects following a single spinal manipulative treatment – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2423359/
World Health Organization (WHO) – https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019