Some of the views expressed here are controversial. So, do ask your doctor. I hope you have one — not just the HMO or retail clinic “provider.”
Don’t panic. That is always good advice. If you, like the world’s economy, operate on just-in-time inventories and did not take advice to stock up three weeks ago, do not join a mob at a big-box store. Somebody there is no doubt infected. Plus, there’s the risk of getting trampled or injured in a fist fight over the last roll of toilet paper. Most of the world survives without that luxury good. If you have no rice or beans or pasta in the pantry, that is more serious, but you should still avoid mobs if at all possible. Take-out and drive-through places are booming.
Don’t treat fever without a doctor’s advice. Fever is not a disease. It is an important defense mechanism. Very high fevers (say 105 degrees) can cause brain damage, and children can have seizures. But don’t pop Tylenol or ibuprofen at the first sign of fever. Many of the casualties in the 1918 pandemic might have been caused by heavy use of aspirin. Like aspirin, popular nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) such ibuprofen also have detrimental effects on blood clotting. Try lukewarm sponge baths for comfort.
Don’t demand to be tested and rely on the results. The tests are still in short supply and not very accurate. If you are at low risk, a positive test is likely to be a false positive. And if you are infected, the test may be negative at first. We need much more testing—mainly for public health monitoring.
Don’t waste. Expired medications are probably still good. Most drugs or essential ingredients are made in China, and supplies are running out. Masks (also mostly made in China) are meant to be disposable, but likely can’t be replaced.
Don’t fall for internet scams or malware. Hucksters will always be around to try to profit from panics. A new type of malicious virus is embedded malware in sites that come up on a search for information. (If you want to find the Johns Hopkins University dashboard of cases and deaths, go to the university’s website, don’t Google “coronavirus map.”)
Do remember that sunlight is the best disinfectant. If you don’t have a pocket ultraviolet lamp (they are or were available on Amazon), try putting things like masks or paper currency out in the sun. The idea should be rigorously tested, but in times of need, you may have to guess.
Do take your vitamins. Most people may be vitamin D deficient. Your need for vitamin C escalates with infection. Some 50 tons of vitamin C was shipped to Wuhan, and studies of effectiveness are underway.
Do get your essential prescriptions refilled for 90 days — the supply chain depends on China. If your managed-care plan won’t pay, consider paying cash. You may be able to get a good price with a coupon from goodrx.com.
Do protect your immune system, with adequate sleep, exercise, fresh air and diet, especially avoiding sugar if you feel ill.
Do help your neighbors, and be responsible about protecting others as well as yourself from contagion.
Dr. Orient is executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (aapsonline.org), an office she has held since 1989, and currently is also president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. She is the author of numerous books; is the editor of “AAPS News,” the “Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Newsletter” and “Civil Defense Perspectives”; and is the managing editor of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.
ns and Surgeons.
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