Since COVID-19 started I have seen an increase in patients looking for advice on how to protect themselves from this killer virus. What we are learning about this virus is, it’s frequently changing, but one thing stays the same. We can manage our risk exposure!
For those patients who have been living with COPD for some time you will know some basic fundamentals of minimising the risk of infections, such as avoiding sick people. This is rule number one when protecting yourself from coronavirus, isolation has been proven to be the best precaution we can take. But what other strategies can we use? My Four Pillars article from 4 years ago very much applies in defending yourself against COVID-19.
Now more than ever is an important time to make sure you are taking your medication as prescribed. Check to make sure your inhaler technique is correct, so you are maximising the dose your lungs are receiving. Many of the medication’s COPD patients take are designed to suppress inflammation in our airways. Inflammation of the airways is a major problem when you contract COVID-19, so taking your medication is even more crucial at this time.
Having to self-isolate can often mean missing pulmonary rehabilitation classes. While there are online programs available, they are not accessible to everyone. This is where you have to look around your house to see how you can implement your own exercise routine. Keeping yourself in peak condition at this time is vital to fighting off any potential infection and exercise is a great strategy to help achieve this.
Simple household items such as chairs and stairs can be used for exercising those lungs. Chairs and stairs can also be used for the majority of patients no mater what your fitness level is. Putting aside 10-15 minutes a day for exercise can build your fitness and exercise capacity as well as “Boosting your Immunity”.
When stressful situations arise its human nature to seek comfort food to make us feel better. Unfortunately, comfort food often means unhealthy foods. Unhealthy foods generally mean processed foods loaded with sugars such as glucose. We know from “Studies” , high glucose levels can make exacerbations of COPD more severe and result in longer hospital stays. High blood glucose levels can ignite inflammation which in turn narrows the airways.
I’m not suggesting in the middle of a pandemic you make drastic changes to your diet; this can be done when we return some normality. What you can do is limit your intake of sweet and processed foods. Yes, I know, it’s Easter!
I will have an Easter eggs over Easter, but I will also take action to minimise the effect. For me this will be time restricted eating. For example, if I have chocolate at night-time, I will not have my next meal until after 11am the next day. Using this strategy lowers blood glucose levels and lowers the risk of infections. I will still eat my normal amount of food; however, it will take place over lunch and dinner and not breakfast, lunch and dinner. Golden rule is, eat whole foods and avoid processed foods!
Remember the basics – self isolation, social distancing, good hygiene, stay safe and keep connected!