Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses capable of causing infection ranging from a common cold to severe respiratory conditions. The most recently discovered coronavirus is COVID-19. The current guidance from Public Health England suggests that most people will only be mildly affected by this virus, especially children and young adults. However older people, and those with underlying medical problems, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.
There current guidance is that the best way we can all help stop prevent the spread of the virus and protect ourselves is to practice good hygiene measures including hand washing on a regular basis and for at least 20 seconds, using alcohol based hand sanitiser to kill the virus, avoiding touching your face and following good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately once used and wash your hands
There is currently no treatment or vaccine for Coronavirus.
Maintaining good health may help protect us from catching viruses. The following measures have some evidence in helping our immune system, preventing viruses or helping us recover more quickly.
Firstly, taking unnecessary antibiotics will not help, as this is a virus, not a bacteria and therefore antibiotics will not help.
We have been asked here at the Practice about vitamins and minerals and how they may affect the immune system. The first thing is that vitamin supplements are not a replacement for a healthy diet and exercise which is always best, but not always possible for everyone.
- Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient, antioxidant and contributes to immune defence. We know that vitamin C deficiency can result in an impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. Vitamin C can be taken as supplements and eating food high in Vitamin C such as oranges, lemons, strawberries, kiwi and red peppers.
- Zinc affects the immune system, it is required for normal development and function of the immune cells. Some studies have shown that Zinc may help in the common cold and upper respiratory tract infections, either by helping prevent it or by reducing the number of days taken to recover.
- Vitamin D also has a role in immunity and deficiency can lead to an increased susceptibility to infections. Vitamin D is produced when your skin is exposed to the sun and therefore called the sunshine vitamin. However, in the UK we rarely produce enough due to lack of sunshine during the winter months and supplementation may be required.
It’s important to note that the above do not ‘prevent’ coronavirus and that a healthy diet is always best but there is some evidence that a lack of certain vitamins and minerals may lead to an increased susceptibility to a lower immune system. If you would like to learn more about vitamin supplements, please contact the Practice on 0207 935 1000 or visit our web page here.
Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak and take simple precautions to reduce your chances of being infected or spreading the virus.