The novel coronavirus called COVID-19 is all over the headlines these days. The official name of the disease is “coronavirus disease 2019”, abbreviated as COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, including some that commonly cause upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is considered a novel coronavirus because it has not previously been seen in humans.
In most cases, symptoms appear 2-14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Some people may only experience mild symptoms. Others, especially older adults or persons with compromised immune systems, can have very serious symptoms.
Anyone experiencing symptoms should isolate themselves from others to avoid infecting anyone else. Seek medical help, but be sure to alert the medical team of your symptoms and the possibility that you’ve been infected (e.g., recent contact with someone else who has the virus or travel to an area where the virus is spreading).
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Health experts say the best way to prevent the illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The CDC recommends the following to prevent the illness:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Don’t shake hands or hug when greeting someone.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
General immune system health also is very important in warding off coronavirus, as well as seasonal cold and flu viruses. Why? Because, currently, there is no effective treatment for these diseases, despite the many advances in biomedical research. And the many different strains of viruses also are constantly evolving. It is far better to strengthen the immune system so that you reduce the chance of getting sick in the first place. After all, viruses can only make you sick if your immune system allows it.
5 ways you can strengthen your immune system
- Reduce Stress – News reports of the COVID-19 virus are stressful for everyone, but reducing your stress can lower your risk for illness and improve the immune system’s ability to fight off infections. Stress significantly increases the incidences of illness by reducing the antiviral immune system, partly because cortisol suppresses the immune responses. Proven stress reducers include exercise, such as walking, jogging and yoga; meditation and deep breathing; and massage, among others.
- Get Quality Sleep – Not all sleep is created equal. When you don’t get enough sleep, or the sleep you do get is of poor quality, your immune system is weakened. Deep sleep, however, helps build your antiviral immune system. To promote healthy sleep, avoid eating or exercising close to bedtime, keep your bedroom well-ventilated, and go to bed around the same time every night. If you suffer from a sleep disorder, be sure to talk with your health care provider about diagnosis and treatment.
- Eat Well – A healthy diet is one of your best defenses against illness. Avoid sugary snack foods and drinks. They are typically filled with fat and calories and have little nutritional value. Instead, choose fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, healthy fats (like olive oil), and beverages such as water and green tea.
- Supplement Your Diet – While a healthy diet usually provides all the necessary immune-boosting vitamins and minerals your body needs, certain health conditions can hinder the body’s ability to fully absorb these nutrients. Talk to your doctor to determine if dietary supplements can help you ward off viral infections. Common supplements include echinacea, goldenseal, ginger, zinc, and vitamin C, as well as high-quality multi-vitamins.
- Regular Infrared Sauna Use – Infrared sauna stimulates the circulatory system, causing the heart to beat more vigorously and blood vessels to dilate. This helps improve circulation and increase blood flow and more fully oxygenates the body’s cells. Raising core body temperature is key. The increased body temperature from a sauna provides benefits similar to fever, including stimulating white blood cell and T-cell production to help boost your immune system.
How Infrared Sauna Improves Immune Function
When you have an infection your immune system induces fever in order to stimulate immune function and make the body less habitable for the pathogens. According to the American College of Critical Care Medicine, fever is defined as a core temperature of 100.9°F (38.3°C) or higher. This is just above the upper limit of an average human temperature, irrespective of the cause. Generally, fevers under 104°F (40°C) help the body fight off pathogens without the risk of febrile seizures.
Infrared sauna can penetrate deep into tissues and raise core body temperature to approximately 102°F (39°C). Although the sauna heats you differently than a fever, the increased body temperature can provide many benefits of fever. Fever-range body temperature causes the body to favor anti-viral and anti-bacterial immune response. That is not to imply that infrared sauna use can kill the coronavirus, or any virus for that matter. Rather, regular infrared sauna use can help your body fight off pathogens by boosting your immune functions. For example, an Austrian study of 25 healthy subjects who regularly used sauna had significantly fewer episodes of common colds than those who did not use sauna. The benefit was more significant with consistent use.
While there is no vaccine for COVID-19, avoiding people who are sick, washing your hands, and keeping your immune system in top shape are some of the best ways to stay healthy. To fully experience the immune-strengthening benefits of an infrared sauna, we recommend using infrared sauna at least once a week throughout the year.
For more information on the immune boosting functions of infrared sauna, read our blog post on “How infrared sauna can boost your immune system during cold and flu season“. Or visit us on the web at RespiraVita.com, or give us a call at 704-313-8678. We are happy to discuss the many benefits of infrared sauna and book a sauna session for you!