Covid-19: Where Are We At?

While COVID-19 has provided me with endless immunology, virology and epidemiology questions to ponder, all topics I quite enjoy, like you I am getting a little sick of issues around this one virus overshadowing many other medical problems. However, I personally had not experienced the viral illness  until this past week. Though I’ve now supported numerous patients via Telehealth with COVID-19 symptoms, it’s a whole different beast from the inside looking out. I share with you my first-hand experience, some current stats on COVID-19, and reasons to treat it even though you may have mild symptoms.

COVID-19 Numbers in King County Recently  

We are most certainly not done talking about COVID, unfortunately. As of September 11, 2022, there were 86.3 new COVID-19 cases and 3.4 new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 residents in the past 7 days, and 5.4% of staffed inpatient beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients (7-day average) (1). 

Current Dominant Variants and Common Symptoms 

As of September 10, the dominant COVID-19 variant in the United States is Omicron BA.5 (87.5% of total cases) followed by Omicron BA.4.6 (9.2% of total cases) (2). Mutations of the BA.5 variant have allowed it to sneak past the body’s immune system more easily. BA.5 symptoms are similar to previous COVID-19 variants and subvariants, including fever, runny nose, coughing, sore throat, headache, muscle pain and fatigue (3). For me, the fatigue, sore throat and cough were most significant, but I also experienced some joint pain, hand and foot numbness, and ear pain and congestion. 

Peculiar Symptoms in COVID-19 

Clinically, what is most interesting to the physicians at Holistique Medical Center, is the uniqueness of how this virus can present in some people. While loss of taste and smell was surprising to many of us, other neurological syndromes associated with COVID-19 are being observed. For example, Alice in Wonderland syndrome has been described as a consequence of COVID-19 in some cases. Alice in Wonderland syndrome results in changes in the perception of one’s surroundings. These changes include both micropsia and macropsia (everything appears reduced or enlarged), as well as altered auditory perception, altered tactile (touch) perception, and altered sense of time. The syndrome is particularly common in children (4). 

Symptoms and Prevention of Long Covid

Typical clinical symptoms associated with Long Covid are tiredness, dyspnea, fatigue, brain fogginess, autonomic dysfunction, headache, persistent loss of smell or taste, cough, depression, low-grade fevers, palpitations, dizziness, muscle pain, and joint pains (5). 

Nearly 1 in 5 American adults who have had COVID-19 still have “long COVID”. Overall, 1 in 13 adults in the US (7.5%) have “long COVID” symptoms, defined as lasting three or more months after first contracting the virus, and that they didn’t have prior to their COVID-19 infection (5). 

In the clinical experience of the docs here at Holistique, the best way to prevent Long Covid is to (a) not get infected in the first place (however we all know that is not always possible), and (b) if/when you do come down with COVID-19, treat somewhat aggressively regardless of severity, and follow up with your doctor as soon as possible to make sure that you are supporting your body through recovery, particularly your respiratory and neurological systems, and your mitochondria (cellular engines that produce energy).

Why You Should Aggressively Support Your Body During COVID-19 Infection

Truthfully, many people power through mild cases of COVID-19 with very little “treatment”, so “aggressive” treatment could be considered anything above and beyond rest and hydration. Supporting your system with something as basic as vitamin C supplementation can go a long way in helping your immune system to tackle the virus. However, in my opinion, it is worth going above and beyond in supporting your system to fight the virus, regardless of symptom severity, in order to minimize the number of viral particles present and their effect on the body. Why spend the time and money on nutritional supplements and other treatments even when symptoms aren’t too severe? The idea is that these treatments ultimately may (potentially) minimize the possibility of Long COVID. We can’t say for sure that naturopathic and other  approaches can minimize the possibility of Long COVID, however in our clinical experience, patients that are actively supporting their bodies fare better overall in both the short and long run of COVID-19. As the saying goes, “Prevention is worth a pound of cure.” 

References 

1. Covid-19 summary dashboard. COVID-19 summary dashboard – King County. (n.d.). Retrieved September 11, 2022. https://kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19/data/summary-dashboard.aspx

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID Data Tracker. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2022, September 11. https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker

3. Berg, Sara. “Omicron and BA.5: Questions patients may have an how to answer.” August 16, 2022. American Medical Association (AMA). Available from: https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/omicron-and-ba5-questions-patients-may-have-and-how-answer#:~:text=Compared%20with%20the%20BA.,frequent%20breakthrough%20infections%20and%20reinfections.

4. Weissenstein, Anne et al. “Alice in Wonderland syndrome: A rare neurological manifestation with microscopy in a 6-year-old child.” Journal of pediatric neurosciences vol. 9,3 (2014): 303-4.

5. Chippa V, Aleem A, Anjum F. Post Acute Coronavirus (COVID-19) Syndrome. [Updated 2022 Jun 19]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK570608/

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Maria Marian, ND, MSE

Dr. Marian is Holistique Medical Center’s associate naturopathic physician. She is passionate about identifying and treating the root cause of complex chronic illnesses. She believes everyone deserves to live each day as the most vibrant and authentic version of themselves, and only by addressing the root cause of illness can true symptom relief be obtained. Dr. Marian received her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. In addition to the core naturopathic curriculum, she completed advanced training in pediatrics, gynecology, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, detoxification, genomic medicine, IV therapy, and neural therapy. Prior to her doctoral studies at Bastyr University, Dr. Marian received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering as well as a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from the University of Washington. Maria also has five years of experience in biomedical and engineering research. She enjoys attending conferences and seminars regularly to stay absolutely current in her areas of specialty. As a research technician at Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, a non-profit international leader in immune system and autoimmune disease research, Dr. Marian contributed to important research in characterizing the underlying pathology of a rare condition of accelerated aging in children. Dr. Marian’s passion for understanding the human body fuels her clinical work, and in turn, her clinical work inspires her dedication to lifelong learning.

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