As the world watches the spread of the Coronavirus with great intensity, I wanted to give you an overview of the very latest in the medical literature on how to distinguish the coronavirus from the flu and offer some strategies to reduce transmission of both.
So today I offer you, Coronavirus FAQs:
1. Is the coronavirus spread the same way that the flu is spread?
Transmission of both viruses comes from the inhalation of droplets while talking, spreading through respiratory transmission from person to person. The flu has been shown to be transmitted by a distance of up to 6 feet, so consider (until direct research on coronavirus is available) a zone of 6 feet to be within reach of the respiratory transmission of infectious material, and consider a distance of greater than 6 feet to be your safe zone.
2. Is the coronavirus the same thing as the flu?
No. Although both the flu and the coronavirus are respiratory tract infections, they are very different viruses and the anti-virals (like Tamiflu) that typically work to shorten the duration of the flu have failed to alleviate symptoms in coronavirus patients.
3. Can you tell a difference between having the flu and having the coronavirus?
The truth is, although there is a huge difference in the long term pathophysiology between the two viruses, you can not tell from the initial symptoms alone which patient has the flu and which has the coronavirus.
Infection with both the flu and the coronavirus typically starts with a fever, cough and muscle aches.
There are some distinguishing traits as the symptoms progress, however. The flu can evolve to include other symptoms that involve the gastrointestinal tract, something the coronavirus typically does not do. For example, the flu may include sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as upper respiratory tract symptoms such as a stuffy nose or runny nose.
The coronavirus, on the other hand, dives deeper into the lower respiratory tract as symptoms progress, with over 75% of cases showing visible lung changes on X-ray such as pneumonia and pulmonary edema.
4. If you can’t tell a difference between the flu and the coronavirus at initial onset, how do you diagnose coronavirus?
Right now, only the CDC can diagnose the coronavirus, as there are no rapid tests for detection… unlike the flu which has RIDT (rapid influenza diagnostic tests) readily available.
So my suggestion to help make a distinction between the two is to get a chest X-ray and a rapid influenza test:
- the coronavirus will be negative on influenza test and likely positive for chest Xray changes
- the flu will be positive on influenza test and likely negative for any changes on chest Xray
Secondly, over time there evolves a more noticeable difference in symptoms, as stated in the previous question and answer. The coronavirus moves into the lungs and can cause acute respiratory distress, while the flu tends to move into the upper respiratory tract and GI tract. So nasal congestion, nausea, vomitting and diarrhea strongly suggest the flu over coronavirus.
Lastly, another difference in the two is the length of the typical course of illness. The flu typically resolves (at least in immuno-strong persons) in less than two weeks, while the typical course of the coronavirus lasts longer than two weeks.
So how long a patient has had symptoms and how the symptoms progress is a huge factor in suspecting coronavirus, as well as getting a rapid flu test and a chest Xray while waiting for CDC confirmation of coronavirus infection.
(To review the up-to-date medical literature that is available on the coronavirus, hop over here to read:)
- coronavirus epidemiological studies here and here and here
- coronavirus laboratory guidelines from the World Health Organization
- World Health Organization coronavirus Q&A
- clinical guidelines from the CDC on coronavirus treatment
- clinical features of coronavirus infection
- a brief overview of the flu vs. coronavirus
- CDC guidelines on coronavirus prevention & treatment
5. So then what is the best way to protect against viral transmission in the first place?
That’s an easy one — boost your own immune system. Neither virus is much of a match against a fully competent immune system.
Both viral infections most often take the lives of those who have weakened immune systems and are most deadly in the very young, elderly, and those who already are immunocompromised.
So the single best thing you can do to protect yourself right now, as you watch this public health threat emerge and expand?
Boost your own immunity naturally. And you can. Absolutely.
There are 9 key things you can do right now to boost your immune system and decrease your chances of getting any viral illnesses this winter.
The goal here is to have such a strong and healthy enough immune system in place that it doesn’t matter if you sit next to someone who has the flu on the bus, it doesn’t matter if you turn a doorknob right after someone who has a stomach bug touched it, it doesn’t matter if you are in line and the person in front of you keeps coughing on you…
…the healthier we each are individually, the less any viral illness will spread.
And really, the cold and flu season just serves to heighten our awareness of things WE *CAN* DO to prevent the spread of disease, to strengthen our own body, and to teach our children how to reduce their own exposures, like hand washing, changing their clothes/bathing right after school, and taking Vitamin C, among other things I’ll share below.
The more steps we are all take to reduce the transmission of disease and the more we are proactive about the robust health our own immune system, the less viral illnesses we will get… reducing the enterovirus and the flu and the colds and other viral infections we might have otherwise gotten this winter.
It’s possible to make this winter be the winter that you are so aware of your inner health that you don’t pick up a single viral illness, no matter what sea of disease you navigate as you go through your normal life this season.
Here are 9 ways to do it:
1. Decrease your sugar intake.
I started off with the hardest one (for me at least!) because sugar directly suppresses the immune system and leaves you more susceptible for picking up communicable illness.
I have a massive sweet tooth — I’m taking L-Glutamine in order to decrease my sugar cravings and you can too. There are L-glutamine supplements that you can take with meals, or in between meals, to stop your sugar cravings in their tracks. They work. Find my favorite L-glutamine supplements in my online dispensary right here.
Also, consider giving less sugary snacks to children when you send them off to school this fall and winter and you will be ensuring that their immune system stays as high as possible when surrounded by their classmates germs.
2. Increase your restorative sleep.
You absolutely need restorative sleep at night to keep your immune system working optimally during the day.
Nighttime is a time of not only repair and process and release but also a time of resetting to meet the next day. Studies show that sleep deprivation causes everything from slowed metabolism, to brain atropy, to decreased immune response.
Have a goal of 9 hours of quality sleep a night if possible, and read this blog post I wrote for you with my 14 favorite holistic ways to boost your sleep, naturally.
3. Allow yourself to retain some extra weight.
This is a little known fact… but as I blogged about from the medical literature a few years ago, having extra weight on helps you survive overwhelming infection.
There is a reason that newborns and the elderly are the most likely to die from the flu and other viral illnesses — their energy and metabolic reserves are generally less than that of a vibrant strong older child and adult.
Especially in the winter, we are meant to have a little extra cushion of weight to hibernate on. By a little, I mean those last 5 pounds you are trying to lose — don’t worry about them in the winter months. Allow yourself this — now is not the time for the stressor of starvation diets.
If you still want to diet, I highly recommend intermittent fasting over daily diets that force calorie restrictions.
Not only is intermittent dieting proven to work better for weight loss, but it has a ton of other health benefits that daily dieting does not. I blog about that for you here and give you some guidelines if you’d like to try it out for yourself and ditch that diet you are one.
4. Use silver to decrease germs on surfaces.
Silver is a wonderful all natural antimicrobial agent that kills 99% of germs. So you can also use the viricidal properties of silver topically — by simply spraying hands and face with topical silver sprays after exposures, as well as using silver hand wipes and room and counter sprays to reduce the amount of germs that you are exposed to.
I swear by using my silver cloth (that I keep attached to my purse, as shown above) for opening doors and wiping my hands down after shaking hands, using shopping carts, touching money, etc…
5. Take immune boosting supplements.
My three non-negotiable favorite immune boosting supplements to take all winter are:
- Vit C (1,000 mg a day)
- Vit D (1,ooo IU a day)
- Probiotics (1 – 5 billion CFUs a day)
- optional add ons: daily fresh pressed citrus juice, high dose Vit C IV infusions or IM injections
Vitamin C is immune boosting, so increasing your intake with a high quality Vitamin C supplement, along with drinking fresh pressed citrus juice as often as possible, is probably my favorite way to protect myself during the cold and flu season. To me, everyone (especially those who are traveling) should be on high dose vitamin C right now. You might even consider a Vitamin C IV drip or IM injection. I think it’s totally reasonable to get an infusion of high dose Vit C prior to traveling (or just for those that want to do it) as extra protection.
It’s also easy to get Vit D deficient in the winter, so I recommend supplementing with an oil emulsified Vit D supplement, and be sure you are on a high quality probiotic. At least 70% of our immunity starts in the gut, so support a healthy gut balance and you support your immunity.
Again, you can find all of my very favorite, pharmacy grade, pure and potent supplements in my online dispensary here:
6. Eat your antivirals.
Eating immune boosting foods such as garlic, ginger and oregano can help you boost your immunity to viral illnesses naturally. Cinnamon and raw honey are both highly anti-viral as well, and have the ability to stop a virus in it’s track.
Try this recipe daily to boost your immunity and take an extra teaspoon full after coming in from being out and about in your community:
Anti-Viral Cinnamon Honey
- Organic Raw Honey
- Organic Ground Cinnamon
- Mix 1 Tablespoon of Organic Raw Honey with 3/4 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon.
- Eat 1 teaspoon as needed!
This makes three servings — enough to take three times a day during known viral exposures or at the onset of any viral symptoms. You can eat a teaspoon of cinnamon honey straight, you can use it in your nightly or morning tea, spread over toast (the perfect winter breakfast!) swirl into your breakfast oatmeal, and you can use it to dip fresh fruit into for the added anti-oxidant boost!
This is one antiviral remedy that children ususally take with a smile. (Do not give honey to children under 1 year of age.)
7. Wash Your Hands.
The #1 thing you can do, even if you can’t do a single other thing on this list, is WASH YOUR HANDS!!!
Wash your hand before eating, before touching your face, before rubbing your eyes, after blowing your nose, whenever you come home from being out and about, and before bed.
Just washing your hands more frequently than ever can be the one step that prevents the widespread epidemic of any viral illness, any season!
8. Consider small lifestyle changes:
There are a few small little lifestyle tweaks you can do to decrease your exposures to viral illnesses during the winter.
Beside the obvious that I talked about before, such as washing your hands, sleeping well, using colloidal silver, and taking immune boosting supplements daily, these are some lesser known ways to decrease transmission of viral illness as well:
- Wear glasses instead of contacts — glasses are not as good as a medical grade eye shield of course, but viral illnesses can be passed while speaking from human to human through the mucosa of your eyes, not just through inhalation to the lungs. When we speak and breathe, we cast microscopic sprays of our oral microbiome all over the person we are speaking to, and vice versa. Consider wearing glasses indoors (and/or sunglasses outside) to act as a barrier for your eyes when people are speaking to you — you can even throw on some non-prescription blue light blocking glasses if you don’t typically need to wear glasses. Wash them often throughout the day, after washing your hands. Not only is this at least a partially protective barrier for your eyes, but by not putting contacts into your eyes you will be touching your face less, reducing the risk of inoculating yourself through your eye mucosa.
- Change clothes right when you get home — instead of flopping down on your sofa, or kitchen chair, or your bed — strip out of your clothes, toss them in the wash, wash your hands and face, then put on clean new clothes. Get into the habit of putting on fresh clothes before touching surfaces in your home that are less easily washed, like your sofa and bed.
- Spray home surfaces with a disinfecting spray — I prefer natural colloidal silver to disinfect surfaces I can’t wash, as I talk about in #4 above.
- Switch to nightly showers — even if you are a die-hard morning showerer, consider showering at night during the winter months. There is no reason to head to bed with all of the germs you’ve been exposed to all day long in your hair and on your body. Shower at night and crawl into bed feeling fresh and clean.
- To dramatically decrease your risk, wear a disposable face mask over nose and mouth (or a cloth one you can wash daily) when out and about in highly populated areas, such as in an airport while traveling.
9. Stop Worrying.
The point isn’t to become fearful of every single person and every single surface you encounter, but to proactively boost your own health so that you could walk directly through an entire street of people with the flu and other germs, and still not get it. This is absolutely possible.
Exposure does NOT equal active infection.
The reality is that you are likely to encounter someone with a cough or sniffle today. Or someone feeling nauseous. And instead of feeling like the next victim of this or any other illness, you should *know* that our bodies absolutely and 100% have the ability to be exposed to nasty viral illnesses and not become infected by them. This is natural for us.
It just takes a healthy immune system, lots of hand washing, good hygiene and a few other steps. Follow the previous 8 steps listed above and #9 — stop worrying — will take care of itself.
So… how many of these tips have you already been doing?
Is there an extra idea or two in this list that you can add to your self care routines to even further decrease your chance of picking up a viral illness this winter? Maybe you will start pressing orange juice for yourself every morning, maybe you’ll take a trip to get an IV Vit C infusion, maybe you will add colloidal silver to your home care routine, or maybe you will just be cognizant of the keep-6-feet-away rule for reducing the respiratory transmission of viruses.
If you can help share this information with others than together we can help stop the spread of the flu and other viral illnesses. The key is empowering each other with positive, helpful, supporting things that we can do every day to dramatically decrease our chance of becoming sick with communicable disease.
It’s not realistic to sequester yourself away from all exposures.
A much more empowering and healthy choice is to walk with the health confidence of believing in your own innate power to be exposed to illness and not personally contract it.
Be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter on my homepage right here if you’d like to receive the latest health care information from the medical literature, always with an uplifting attitude (never fear based like the rest of the medical world) and packed with lots of actionable things you can do to support your own innate health.
Because I believe that innate health is natural and that we are designed to be resilient.
Let your body do what it does best — ward off infection and keep you healthy.
This is what your immune system is made for.
And these are the ways you can optimize that process.