What’s in a name? The 2019 Coronavirus or COVID-19

Although this may be the first time in your life you’ve heard the name Coronavirus, they are a family of viruses that frequently cause the common cold. Most likely you’ve had one form or another more than once in your life and simply called it the sniffles.

COVID-19 is a novel or new member of the Coronavirus family that was discovered in December of 2019 in China and appears to be more severe than the common cold for some.  Fortunately, most people who contract COVID-19 still have a minor illness. 

Currently, there have been more than 80,000 cases worldwide and almost 3,000 deaths. More than 80 percent of the cases have been confined to China, the epicenter of this suspected Pandemic (world-wide infection). Just as a comparison, this 2019-2020 Flu season has seen 32,000,000 – 45,000,000 cases with 18,000 – 32,000 deaths worldwide.

Currently the CDC has reported 60 confirmed cases in the United States. None of the cases have been in Colorado (as of March 3, 2020 when this post was last updated).  This is a fluid situation, and you can click here to find current numbers. 

Like influenza (the Flu), COVID-19 seems to affect the chronically ill and the elderly most severely – especially those with cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Fortunately, young children and pregnant women seem to be spared from death and more severe illness (unlike with the flu). 

This post will address the following topics:

  • How can you catch COVOD-19?
  • What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
  • Is there a test for COVID-19?
  • Is there a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19?
  • Should you travel?
  • Should you wear a mask?
  • When to call or come into the office?
  • Links to the most accurate and up-to-date information
  • General guidelines to help you support a strong immune system and protect your body against viral infections

How can you catch COVID-19?

Like influenza and the common cold virus, COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets from sneezing, coughing and mucus production. These droplets may be directly spread from person to person from as far as 6 feet away or may be picked up from contaminated surfaces.

The incubation (how long it takes to get sick from the time you are infected) ranges from 2-14 days.  People seem to be most contagious while they are actively sick with symptoms, although there are concerns that the virus may be spreadable even before or after the illness has resolved.  How long the virus can survive on surfaces is currently unknown.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Like influenza and the common cold viruses, the large majority of people who get infected with COVID-19 have mild cold-like symptoms (cough, congestion, runny/stuffy nose and fever).  Some people even have no symptoms at all.

In severe cases, it is possible to develop pneumonia, respiratory distress, sepsis (blood infection), septic shock and even death.

Fortunately, as mentioned above, children and pregnant women seem to be somewhat protected from severe illness and death. As a matter of fact, the mortality rate under age 50 is very low.

Although China has reported a 3 percent mortality rate (which may reflect an under-resourced medical system), the rest of the world’s mortality rate seems closer to 1 percent. 

Is there a test for COVID-19?

There is currently a test for COVID-19 but it is only available through the CDC. This means that regular doctors’ offices like ours are unable to order it.

Currently only symptomatic patients with travel to China or close exposure to people who have recently visited China are recommended to get tested. Those people should go to the hospital for testing. 

If you have symptoms, you most likely have the common cold or flu. If it will give you peace of mind to have you or your child tested for flu, we do have this test in our office. 

Is there a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19?

There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, but the CDC is working on it.

There is currently no specific treatment for the COVID-19. Like most viral illness the treatment is supportive: proper hydration, respiratory support, oxygen, pain management, and hospitalization or intensive care support for severe cases.  

Below I will suggest some lifestyle and natural remedies you can use to strengthen your immune system and protect your body against viral infections.

Should you travel right now?

The CDC only recommends avoiding travel to high risk areas. However, since we are unable to predict how this Pandemic will pan out in the next few months, I personally recommend only traveling if it is unavoidable. This is a personal decision for each family to make however, you may want to consider postponing leisurely travel that you have planned – both within or outside the United States.

Airports are clearly “higher risk” locations due to the volume of people from all around the world who pass through. If you do travel, please see our tips for Airplane Travel.

Here is a link to the CDC travel advisory:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

Should you wear a mask?

Currently the CDC is not recommending most people wear masks. High risk exposure, such as travel to endemic areas or health care providers, may need to wear masks. If you do decide to get a mask, make sure it is a Particulate Respirator Mask rated P 95, R 95, N 95 or equivalent.

When to call or come into the office?

In general, there only a few reasons to seek urgent medical attention:

  • Difficulty breathing. Unlike adults, respiratory distress is the one of the most common causes of death in children. If your child is having labored breathing (rapid, shallow, noisy breathing, retractions or sucking in above the clavicle or between the ribs) first assess if they have a fever. In order to keep up with the increase demand of oxygen during fever, our body will immediately increase its heart rate and respiratory rate to compensate. Once you treat your child’s fever, reassess their breathing. If it’s still labored, then you should call your health care provider or head to your emergency room. Occasionally cough can be so severe that your child may have difficulty catching their breath. Try to stay calm and keep them calm, but this is also time to seek medical attention.
  • Dehydration. Because children have a much smaller blood volume, they are more prone to severe dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea. Watch my video on the tummy bug for more information on preventing & treating dehydration. 
  • Pain. If your child is inconsolable and seems in pain for more than 30 minutes, it is a good idea to try treating that pain with Ibuprofen or Tylenol.  If this does not improve the situation within 40-60 minutes or things seem to be getting worse, you should seek medical care.
  • Rashes. Although most rashes are safe, there are a few that should alert you to seek care. Blisters and vesicles, petechiae or purpura (look like little bruises and they don’t blanch when you touch them), or hives that lead to facial swelling should alert you to call.
  • Fever. While fever in and of itself is generally not dangerous (see my article), fever lasting longer than 72 hours should prompt a call to your doctor.
  • When you are worried and don’t feel safe with your child at home. I always tell my patients that it is better to not worry alone. If you have tried to assess the severity of your child’s condition and you are uncertain or feel fearful, we would rather hear from you. It’s always better for us to reassure you that your child is safe, than for you to take the risk of missing something serious. This is what we are here for.

For the best and most accurate up-to-date information on COVID-19, please check these links:

While there is currently no specific treatment for COVID-19, these are my general guidelines to help you support a strong immune system and protect your body against viral infections:


PREVENTION

I know I sound like a broken record, but the most important thing to do is maximize your child’s health with the basics. Here are a few things you can do to keep your kids healthy when illness is circulating.

  • Hand washing for more than 20 seconds with soap and water.  This has been proven to prevent influenza and many other infections.  I recommend doing this before every meal and more often for children who still put their hands in their mouths.  Also, encourage children to wash their hands upon returning home from school, errands, and other activities outside the house. (See this experiment, done by an Idaho teacher, to demonstrate the power of hand washing!)
  • Hand sanitizer – needs to have more than 60% alcohol to be effective.  This is sometimes even more effective than hand washing (do your kids actually wash their hands well?!) and often the only good option when out of the house.
  • Clean surfaces – many viruses can hang out and wait for you for 2 or more weeks!  This is often overlooked.  Some recommendations would be Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner, Cavicide, Clorox Wipes, Rubbing Alcohol, etc.
  • Minimize travel and high-risk activities.  High-risk activities include visiting crowded places such as the children’s museum, indoor play areas, or dropping your kids off at the gym childcare. 

    Once again,the CDC only recommends avoiding travel to high risk areas. However, since we are unable to predict how this Pandemic will pan out in the next few months, I personally recommend only traveling if it is unavoidable. This is a personal decision for each family to make however, you may want to consider postponing leisurely travel that you have planned – both within or outside the United States.

    Airports are clearly “higher risk” locations due to the volume of people from all around the world who pass through. If you do travel, please see our tips for Airplane Travel.
  • Ask your play dates and guests if they are or have been sick recently.  Again, viruses can hang out for far longer on surfaces.
  • Keep your kids home if they are sick – that also means you should stay home if you are ill.  This is a major reason why we have epidemics and pandemics.  In addition to infecting others, your child is more likely to get something else while their system is challenged/recovering.
  • Nutrition – a good whole foods diet is crucial. Eat a well-rounded, nutrient-dense diet. Decrease sugar and processed foods.  If you feel you need help with this, book a session with Debbie, my amazing wife and our nutritionist. She can help you get your family on track.
  • Keep your family well rested – it’s amazing how powerful this is!  I can often avert illness if I get the proper rest my body is asking for when I’m first feeling run down.

SUPPLEMENTS

At a minimum, I recommend the following 4 Foundational Supplements…

There are studies that show that these basics can significantly decrease the frequency of illness in both children and adults.

1. Vitamin D: 400-1000 iu per day for most young children; 2000 iu per day for most teens and adults.  The large majority of children I have tested have insufficient levels of vitamin D and may actually need more than these basic recommendations. Call the office for an appointment if you want to discuss testing your child.

2. Probiotics: These good bacteria are crucial for good health. Besides benefiting digestion, they are supportive with respiratory and immune challenges as well. Probiotics alone have been shown to decrease the number of upper respiratory infections significantly.

3. Omega 3 fats: Fish or cod liver oil are essential for your immune system to work properly.

4. Multivitamin: A good “insurance policy” that your basic nutrients are covered. Especially helpful for children who are “picky eaters”.


These next supplements can be used for further prevention & to support the body during viral illness…

Vitamin C

Zinc

Immune Support

Immunotix

We carry this at Mindful Pediatrics. To order directly, click here.


Additional support if you get sick…

The first thing to do is to increase the doses that you are taking of the above supplements. Then you can consider adding some of the following…

Oscillococcinum – effective homeopathic for reducing cold & flu symptoms

Biocidin Advanced Formula Throat Spray with antiviral and antibacterial herbs

Clear and Release Chinese herbal formula – this is a great first defense against viruses. Available at Mindful Pediatrics.

Viragraphis – an effective anti-viral for parents and older children who can swallow capsules. We carry this at Mindful Pediatrics. To order directly, click here


I hope you find this information useful – and please feel free to share it with anyone who may benefit.

If you are interested in the specific products mentioned, you can click on each of them above and add them to your cart. 

We know that you have a lot of options for purchasing supplements, and we greatly appreciate your support. Your support helps us to continue to share helpful information and resources with our community.

Thank you and be well ~ Dr. Roy

About Dr. Roy Steinbock, M.D.

Dr. Roy Steinbock is a Board Certified Pediatrician, practicing Pediatrics since 1999. He practices evidence-based Western Medicine with a holistic approach. Dr. Roy believes that each child is unique and deserves to be understood from a biological, psychological, spiritual and social perspective. He uses his knowledge of general pediatrics, nutrition, mindfulness, and holistic medicine to guide his patients and their families in both well care and illness.

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