Re-Evaluating Health During COVID-19

All around the world today we are living in a truly bizarre time with COVID-19. We have stay at home orders and quarantines in place for the sick. Our grocery store shelves are empty of cleaning supplies, toilet paper and boxed foods, yet good healthy whole foods are still available in abundance. I have now seen multiple news stories where people wear rubber gloves when out shopping, only to discard them on the ground outside instead of in trash receptacles where they belong. People are living in fear of this cold virus pandemic as if there has never been deadly pandemics before which have killed far more people than the current COVID-19 pandemic.

There have been nine serious pandemics over the last one hundred years with the HIV/AIDS pandemic still ongoing.  Seven of these have occurred over the last fifty years. This pandemic is not the first, nor will it be the last. I wish I knew a way to get people to quit living in fear of the unknown factors behind this virus and be more positive about what we do know. What we do know is that world wide there have been about 132 million cases diagnosed, almost a quarter million people fully recovered and a death rate of just under 60 thousand for a mortality rate of under 1 percent.

Yes, this virus is highly contagious. We do need to be cautious!

But no, we do not need to live our lives in fear. Most people only display minor symptoms. Do yourself a favor and quit watching 24/7 news all day as you sit in the confines of your home. Tune out those on social media who do nothing but help spread bad information and blame. There are far too many armchair quarterbacks calling plays in this pandemic who are not armed with medical knowledge. Beware the politicians who are taking advantage of the current events solely for political gain.

What we do know about COVID-19

People who have chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, lung disease and heart disease, face an increased chance of being hospitalized with COVID-19 and put into intensive care, according to data released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that is consistent with reports from China and Italy. The CDC analyzed more than 7,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases across the country in which health officials had a written record about the presence or absence of any underlying medical condition. The preexisting conditions covered in the records include heart and lung diseases, diabetes, chronic renal disease, chronic liver disease, immunocompromised conditions, neurological disorders, neurodevelopmental or intellectual disability, pregnancy, current or former smoker status, and “other chronic disease.” Almost every one of these maladies can be avoided through good nutrition and exercise which keeps you fit, trim, and healthy. Of the 7,160 patients whose chronic illness status was known through health records, 184 died, and 173 of them had an underlying condition, the CDC said. None of the deaths were among people under age 19.

With the entire world in a state of worry around COVID-19, it’s not surprising that people with pre-existing conditions — like obesity — are more afraid than people who are in good health. If that’s you, your fear is of course natural and understandable. The virus swiftly took over the globe, leaving researchers scrambling to understand how it works, who is most at risk, and how to control its spread. It is a virus that is new to the world’s health care professionals.

As this COVID-19 pandemic spreads around the world, you should consider how being overweight or obese might affect you if you were to contract this virus.

According to the World Obesity Federation, “Obesity-related conditions seem to worsen the effect of COVID-19; indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that people with heart disease and diabetes are at higher risk of COVID-19 complications.” This is because on the physiological level, there is a plethora of reasons why excess fat is risky for your well being.  Even patients who are metabolically healthy despite being  obese need to be concerned because of the excess adiposity based upon angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). What this means to you is the ACE2 enzyme binds well to viruses, like severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The risk of serious illness increases even more if you have multiple  illnesses or conditions such as diabetes, sleep apnea, coronary artery disease, or heart failure. Again, each of these are within your control if you choose to live a healthy life. These ailments usually accompany, or are a direct result of excess body fat in the form of obesity. So please, before you jump on social media and begin pointing the finger of blame on others who you believe are not doing enough to protect your safety and well being, just stop already.

Take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself what more can you do for yourself.

No one forces you to eat an unhealthy diet. You do this on your own. I’m pretty sure no one else is putting that fork and spoon in your mouth for you.

Except in the case of severe disability, most everyone can perform some kind of exercise.

No one forces you to consume alcohol, nor to smoke cigarettes.

You, and you alone are primarily responsible for your health. Your doctor might give you treatments and cures, but at the end of the day, your health is on you!

As you practice social distancing while sitting in your home,  please re-evaluate how you live your life. This pandemic is not our first, nor will it be our last. There could be another come along in the future that is much worse than this one.

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