It’s best to be cautious and conservative when trying to avoid the COVID-19 virus, said Bayhealth Primary Care, Milford’s Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease Specialist Antonio Zarraga, MD. He’s also serving as the Bayhealth Coronavirus Management Team director. It’s important, he said, to recognize a weakened immune system, and take steps, when possible, to make choices to enhance or boost your immune system.
“This is a very unusual and unpredictable virus. Be very cautious, and consider your next-door neighbor, friend or relative as potentially infected,” he advised.
Dr. Zarraga explains some of the signs of a weakened immune system and offers ways to boost immunity.
“The hallmark of a weak immune system is recurrent infections,” Dr. Zarraga said. Doctors consider the frequency, severity, duration, complications, and causes of those infections.
People who have chronic infections, autoimmune or malignant diseases are prone to weakened immune systems. Chronic diarrhea, malabsorption and poor wound healing may also indicate immunodeficiency, he said.
Malnutrition, malignancy and drugs used to treat malignancy, metabolic diseases – including diabetes, severe liver disease and uremia, HIV infection and asplenia also weaken the immune system. “Response to treatment and resolution of infection can be affected by a patient’s immune medical condition,” said Dr. Zarraga.
A healthy lifestyle is the best way to help boost immunity. Dr. Zarraga says that getting adequate sleep and proper nutrition – specifically eating more vegetables, will help. Other means for boosting the immune system include moderate exercise, drinking plenty of water, limiting alcohol and sugar intake, and getting fresh air and sunshine.
In addition, after consulting your primary care physician, Dr. Zarraga said limited research suggests a “cocktail” of supplements may be beneficial. Taking Vitamin C, an anti-inflammatory; Quercetin, a plant phytochemical; Zinc lozenges, slow-release Melatonin and Vitamin D-3 may prevent or mitigate COVID-19. “While there is no high-level evidence that this cocktail is effective, it is cheap, safe, and widely available.”