IMG-20200715-WA0063

Preventive health and hygiene practices during COVID-19

Fatima Hussain

The outbreak of COVID-19 as a pandemic has serious consequences for human life, health systems and economy worldwide. Various countries are in major lockdowns to prevent and contain the pandemic but all these efforts not that fruitful. Health systems of many countries are on the verge of collapsing. No authentic cure has yet been discovered for this contagious virus. Millions of humans have succumbed to this virus and still there are no signs of the pandemic stopping.

WHO has reported approximately 27.9 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and up to 905K deaths according to that of 10th September 2020. In Pakistan the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed on 26th February and till 10th September almost 300k cases have been confirmed along with 6365 deaths.

To stay healthy during this pandemic, it is necessary to monitor daily health during this medical crisis. If shortness of breath, cough, sneeze, temperature or other symptoms occur, then it is necessary to get tested immediately. In case of positive test, isolation of patient is necessary to prevent others in close proximity from getting infected. While dealing with infected patient, precautionary measures must be taken such as wearing gloves, mask and maintaining distance. Mask and gloves should be discarded to prevent further spreading of virus. Excessive trips to public places should be prevented.

According to medical experts immunocompromised people are more vulnerable to covid-19 as compared to a person with a healthy immune system.  It is necessary to keep a balanced immune system for prevention against covid-19.  Healthy and proper diet plays a crucial role in maintaining a proper working immune system.

Healthy diet is important for an immune system to perform its functions efficiently. Nutrients required for effective immune system functioning are

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc

Vitamin A

Vitamin A plays an important role in maintaining growth and development of body. Its deficiency increases the chances of infections. The foods that are a high source of Vitamin A are

  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Dairy
  • Vegetables and fruits (carrot, cantaloupe, squash, broccoli, apricot and mangoes etc).
  • Nuts

Vitamin B

Vitamin B9 and B12 are crucial for maintenance of immune system and cellular functions of body. Deficiency of vitamin B can cause poor transport of oxygen which results in weakness and fatigue. It also causes anemia. Vitamin B rich foods are

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Whole Grains (brown rice, millet, barley)
  • Legumes (beans and lentils)
  • Seeds and nuts (almond, sunflower seeds)
  • Leafy vegetables ( spinach, kale, broccoli)
  • Fruits (citrus, avocados)
  • Seafood

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is crucial for immune system functioning as it maintains the immunity and cellular functions of innate as well as adaptive immune system. Its deficiency can cause poor immunity, prolonged wound healing, joint pain, anemia and bleeding gums. Sources of Vitamin C are

  • Fruits (strawberry, pineapple, kiwi, mango, guava)
  • Vegetables (potato, peppers, spinach, kale cabbage, tomato, broccoli, Brussels sprouts)

Vitamin D

It allows proliferation of B-cells and blocks the differentiation of B-cells. It also controls T-cells proliferation and maturation. The deficiency of vitamin D causes autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Sources of Vitamin D are

  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Mushrooms
  • Dairy products
  • Beef liver
  • Soy milk

Zinc

Zinc plays a critical role in development of immune system cells and neutrophils. Its deficiency causes impaired immune system functionality. Sources of zinc are

  • Meat
  • Shellfish
  • Legumes
  • Seeds and Nuts
  • Dairy
  • Eggs

It is important to regulate nutrient uptake in covid-19 infected patients to maintain energy and prevent weakness. Patients that require intubation or ventilators are not able to meet their nutritional requirements properly. It is important to supply adequate nutrients to the patient otherwise recovery can be slow leading to other health risks like weakened immunity, vulnerability to other infections, and muscle loss.

Hygiene plays an important role in prevention of covid-19. It spreads through droplets produced from the infected person through sneeze and cough. It is contagious and spreads from person to person. Some important hygiene practices for prevention of covid-19 are

  • Frequently wash hands regularly for minimum 20 seconds especially after coming from a public place, after using the toilet and before meals.
  • Wear mask in public places and discard mask after reaching home.
  • Keep a distance of 6 ft while interacting with other people especially in a public place.
  • Cover the mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing with a tissue or napkin and immediately discard it safely to prevent contamination.
  •  Clean the house with medically approved disinfectants frequently.

Conclusion

The symptoms of this novel virus are cough, flu, fever and shortness of breath with a mortality rate of 3-5%. Trials for life saving drugs are still in working. It is necessary to maintain social distancing and to keep a record of medical conditions and symptoms. Isolation of infected individuals is necessary. Maintaining a healthy life style can prevent covid-19 to certain extent. It is important to adapt a healthy lifestyle and hygienic practices. By following protocols and standard operating procedures set by medical experts, rapid spreading of the virus can be prevented.

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