If we listen to the media, it may seem at times that the message is quite confusing, from the alarmist “anyone of any age can get Covid, at any time” to the “well, I’m not in an at-risk group, so precautions don’t apply to me.”
But actually as often happens the truth is somewhere in between, and as natural health practitioners who like to look at the evidence, the actual science is revealing.
Covid-19 is an “opportunistic infection”, meaning that it takes advantage of people whose immune systems are not functioning optimally. Often this is taken as a characteristic of people who are said to have co-morbidities.
What it means is that these people have underlying conditions which impair their immune function and make them more vulnerable to opportunistic infections – such as Covid-19. Sometimes these conditions are known and obvious, such as a diagnosed cancer, but sometimes they are hidden and the person is unaware of them, such as early onset heart disease, which can be developing even in a young person without any symptoms and without their knowledge.
Basically a co-morbidity encompasses inflammation in any of its manifestations in the body. We can all think of a few, and there may be others that don’t immediately come to mind. If we can think of inflammation as a small fire, and then along comes an inflammatory infection (such as Covid), then the inflammatory infection stokes that fire, like it puts petrol on it, and the person quickly contracts the disease and the fire is hard to put out. However, if the person does not have a co-morbidity, the flame of Covid is much easier for the healthy immune system to put out.
And it is worth mentioning that a 20 year old with obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle may be more likely to get Covid than a healthy weight 70 year old who eats a diet low in inflammatory food, so this is a lesson for the young not to be complacent nor for our senior citizens to all be concerned.
As mentioned before, being obese is a risk factor as obesity is an inflammatory condition – it is associated with a 46% higher risk of being Covid-19 positive. Cancer or anyone having chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Heart disease; diabetes, arthritis. Increasing age is inflammatory to varying degrees as degeneration does provoke an inflammation response as it breaks down tissue.
But it’s important to recognise that we are not powerless when it comes to both our infection risk and outcomes. Our lifestyle choices in areas like diet, sleep, exercise, and dealing with stress all factor into our immune competence and may well deny this coronavirus the notion of opportunism.
At Holden Health we like to explore causative factors implicated in ill-health, so we do take an active interest in working with co-morbidities and can help draw up a health plan for you to reduce your own risks.
If you are interested to see how we can help you, please call 09 282 3588 for an appointment.