As of late May 2020, there have been more than 1.6 million cases of coronavirus in the United States, along with more than 97,000 deaths. Even as states begin to open up and we start to understand society’s new normal, it’s more important than ever to remain vigilant and mindful. While we hope that new cases and deaths will decrease over the next few weeks and months, it’s critical that we all do our part to stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s what you need to know about staying healthy during a pandemic. This information is especially critical for those who are at a higher risk, including the elderly, those with pre-existing conditions, and smokers.
Who is at most risk?
Because COVID-19 is a new disease, we continue to learn more about the virus on a daily basis. What we do know so far is that there are certain groups of people who are more likely to experience severe complications, such as pneumonia, which requires hospitalization.
Those at the highest risk include the following:
- 65 years and older
- Living in nursing homes
- With chronic lung disease
- With serious heart complications
- Who are immune-compromised
- With diabetes
- With obesity
- With liver or kidney diseases
Smokers are also at a much higher risk of experiencing severe complications due to coronavirus. This is because most smokers have decreased lung and heart health. Coronavirus attacks the lungs and is very taxing on the respiratory system. Those who smoke are already likely to experience breathing problems as well as respiratory infections.
Effects of Coronavirus
The coronavirus affects the respiratory system first. Someone who is infected with the virus will experience cough, shortness of breath, and fever. As the virus progresses, patients may experience minor respiratory symptoms, while others will face more life-threatening side effects, such as fever and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Aside from the lungs, COVID-19 impacts many other organs throughout the body. Patients who become severely ill because of the virus are likely to develop problems with other organ systems. For example, coronavirus has a notable impact on the heart and blood vessels. The virus can cause irregular heart rhythms as well as low blood pressure. This is because the virus decreases the lungs’ ability to transfer oxygen from the air into the bloodstream. There are also some numbers that may link COVID-19 to blood clotting issues. This may increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Coronavirus may also damage the gastrointestinal system, the liver, and kidneys, as well as the immune system. Knowing just how destructive the virus can make it all the more important to stay healthy during this pandemic.
Ways to Stay Healthy
Even though there is still a lot of mystery and worry that surrounds the coronavirus, there are some things that are certain. First, there are many steps that all of us can take in order to protect ourselves and stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what you should do to minimize your risk.
Make Healthy Lifestyle Decisions
Making healthy lifestyle decisions such as routine physical activity and a healthy diet all play a role in your overall health. What you eat and how often you exercise are key factors in your physical and mental well-being. These factors are also important in allowing your body to prevent and protect against disease.
A poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle all increase the risk of decreased immune health, which increases the risk of chronic disease. Because of this, physical activity and a wholesome diet are crucial during the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s also important to quit other unhealthy lifestyle habits, especially smoking. Smokers are at an increased risk of severe complications from coronavirus because of how the virus attacks the lungs. While quitting smoking isn’t easy, there are all sorts of resources and products available to make it much easier to kick the habit to the curb.
Instead of trying to quit cold turkey, choose nicotine replacement therapy and switch to a tobacco alternative. Black Buffalo, a smokeless tobacco alternative, as well as nicotine patches, gum, and e-cigarettes are all great cigarette alternatives.
There are also medications and programs designed to help smokers quit.
Don’t Forget About Your Mental & Emotional Health
During times of uncertainty, it’s all too easy to become overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. High levels of stress and anxiety can negatively impact your mood, sleep cycle, and your overall mental health.
To protect your mental well-being, it’s important to do things that uplift you and make you happy. Exercising, yoga, meditating, or even going for walks outdoors can all work wonders for your mental health.
Sticking to a routine is also important. Don’t let stress and anxiety be the reasons you stay up all night and sleep all day. Ensure you have activities to do throughout the day to keep you busy and occupied. And don’t be afraid to turn off the news for a little while!
Follow CDC Guidelines
Last but definitely not least, continue to follow CDC guidelines. This includes:
- Maintaining a safe distance from others
- Washing your hands often with soap and water
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Using a face cover when out in public
- Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces
By taking the necessary precautions, protecting yourself, and staying healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic is possible. You don’t have to become a statistic! Quit bad lifestyle habits and instead replace them with healthier ones. And most importantly, take care of yourself and those around you.