Risk Factors for Covid-19 Infection

Covid-19 is an acronym of coronavirus disease 2019. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common throughout the world. They can cause respiratory illness in people and animals. This particular one originated in China at the end of 2019 in the city of Wuhan. In the past two decades, coronavirus outbreaks have caused global concern, including one in 2003 with the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and more recently in 2012 with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Covid-19 is a disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 that can trigger what doctors call a respiratory tract infection. It can affect the upper respiratory tract, viz. sinuses, nose, and throat or lower respiratory tract, viz. windpipe, and lungs. Severe cases can lead to serious respiratory disease, and even pneumonia.

On January 30, 2020, the WHO declared the Covid-19 outbreak a global health emergency. On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared it a global pandemic.

Risk factors –

The following are the risk factors that are likely to predispose the people to Covid-19 infection –

Age 65 years and older –

People, who are 65 years and older, are at a higher risk of Covid-19 infection due to their decreased immunity. They are more likely to have some associated co-morbidities like diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Also, the course of disease tends to be more severe in them resulting in higher mortality. However, its transmission among the elderly population can be reduced by taking appropriate preventive measures.

Chronic lung disease and asthma –

People with asthma are more likely to catch Covid-19. The hospital data shows that respiratory patients are more likely to experience severe complications. As there is still no cure for it, the best action that people can take is to protect themselves from infection. The same is the case with other chronic lung diseases.

Serious heart conditions –

Covid-19 causes direct damage to the lungs and triggers an inflammatory response, which places stress on the cardiovascular system in two ways, viz. by infecting the lungs the blood oxygen levels drop and the inflammatory effects of the virus itself cause the blood pressure to drop as well. In such cases, the heart must beat faster and harder to supply oxygen to major organs.

According to the European Society of Cardiology, individuals with heart conditions such as heart failure, dilated cardiomyopathy, advanced forms of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, and patients with congenital cyanotic heart disease are at the highest risk.

Severe obesity –

There are increasing number of reports that have linked obesity to more severe Covid-19 infection and death. Obesity reduces the protective cardio-respiratory reserves and weakens the immune regulation that appears likely to help the progression to critical stage of the disease.

Researchers found that among individuals with Covid-19 aged less than 60 years in New York City, those with a BMI between 30-34 Kg/m2 and greater than 35 Kg/m2 were 1.8 times and 3.6 times more likely to be admitted to critical care respectively than individuals with a BMI lesser than 30 Kg/m2.

A new study published in 2020 in Diabetes Care concluded that patients with Covid-19 are two and a half times more likely to have severe pneumonia if they are obese than if they are not. Obesity brings with itself a chronic inflammatory state. Whether obesity is an independent risk factor for susceptibility to infection requires further research.

Diabetes –

Diabetes is a risk factor for hospitalization and mortality of the Covid-19 infection. Diabetics have impaired immune response to infection concerning cytokine profile and changes in immune-responses including T-cell and macrophage activation. Poor glycemic control impairs several aspects of the immune response to viral infection and also to the potential bacterial secondary infection in the lungs. Poor glycemic control is a risk factor for Covid-19 infection and its adverse outcomes. Hence the importance of tight glycemic control in diabetics cannot be overlooked.

Chronic kidney disease –

People with chronic kidney disease are at an increased risk of the infection. People on dialysis can have weaker immune systems, making it harder to fight infections. Nonetheless, the kidney patients need to continue with their regularly scheduled dialysis treatments and to take necessary precautions as recommended by their healthcare provider.

People with a kidney transplant need to take anti-rejection medicines, also known as immunosuppressive medicines, which keep the immune system less active.

Liver disease –

All patients with liver disease are at risk of adverse outcomes from the virus. Also, some people with certain liver conditions are extremely vulnerable. They include people on immune-suppression for a liver transplant or for autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) and people with liver cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy.

Immune-compromised people –

A person of any age group can become immune-compromised. The conditions that can cause a person to be immune-compromised include cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.

There are reports that, in some Covid-19 patients, death has occurred probably due to a cytokine storm, when the immune system goes into overdrive, thereby damaging even healthy tissue that may lead to multiple organ failure, sepsis, and even death.

Tips to Enhance Body Immunity

In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, the people have been taking the required precautions like the use of mask, social distancing, minimal personal interactions, etc. Despite the observance of these measures, it is quite important that one should possess good immunity to fight the new Corona virus infection and other illnesses.

The immune system is essential for our survival. Without it our bodies would be open to attack from bacteria, viruses, parasites, and more. It keeps us healthy as we come across a large number of pathogens.

It is spread throughout the body and involves many types of cells, organs, proteins, and tissues. It has special ability to distinguish our tissue from foreign tissue. Dead and faulty cells are also recognized and cleared away by it.

If it encounters a pathogen, a bacterium, virus, or parasite, it mounts a so-called immune response. An immune response is a reaction which occurs in our body for the purpose of defending against foreign invaders. A toxin or other foreign substance, which induces an immune response in the body thereby producing antibodies, is called antigen.

Central to its ability to mobilize a response to an invading pathogen, toxin or allergen is its ability to distinguish self from non-self. The host uses both innate and adaptive mechanisms to detect and eliminate pathogenic microbes.

Innate immunity is the defense system with which we are born. Innate immunity involves barriers that keep harmful materials from entering our body. These barriers form the first line of defense in the immune response.

If pathogens successfully evade the innate response, we possess a second layer of protection, the adaptive immune system, which is activated by the innate response. It adapts its response during an infection to improve its recognition of the pathogen. This response is retained after the pathogen has been eliminated in the form of an immunological memory, which allows the adaptive immune system to mount faster and stronger attacks each time this pathogen is encountered.

Tips to enhance immunity –

The following are important tips that will help us to enhance our immunity:

Have an adequate sleep –

Sleep and immunity are closely linked. During sleep, the immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Certain cytokines need to increase when we have an infection or inflammation, or when we are under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when we don’t get enough sleep.

It is normally recommended that adults should aim to get 7 or more hours of sleep each night, whereas teens need 8-10 hours and younger children and infants up to 14 hours.

Eat more whole plant foods –

Whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that may give you an upper hand against harmful pathogens by boosting immunity. By eating all different colors of plant-based foods, we are more likely to get a strong and varied nutritional profile. In fact, whole foods, plant-based diet contains 64-times the amount of immunity-boosting antioxidants compared to a diet that includes meat and dairy.

Eat healthy oil –

Healthy fats like olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil and foods rich in omega-3s are highly anti-inflammatory. Since chronic inflammation can suppress our immune system, these fats may naturally combat illnesses. A low-level inflammation is a normal response to stress or injury.

Reduce stress –

The stress suppresses it, increasing susceptibility to colds and other illnesses. It is difficult to define stress. Most scientists studying the relationship of stress and immune function, however, do not study a sudden, short-lived stressor; rather, they try to study more constant and frequent stressors known as chronic stress.

Do regular exercise –

The regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to a healthy immune system. It may contribute by promoting good circulation, which allows its cells and substances to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.

Stop smoking –

Smoking can suppress it because nicotine can lead to decreased neutrophilic phagocytic activity. It can also inhibit the release of reactive oxygen species (ROS) thus impairing the ability of neutrophils to kill pathogens. Within the lungs, smoking triggers a release of inflammatory agents that lead to persistent chronic inflammatory syndrome.

Meditate daily –

It has been found that the benefit we experience from meditation isn’t strictly psychological; there is a clear and quantifiable change in how our bodies function. Meditation is one of the restorative activities that may provide relief for our immune systems, easing the day-to-day stress of the body.

Limit added sugar –

When we eat a big dose of sugar, we temporarily damp down our immune system’s ability to respond to challenges. The effect lasts for several hours. So if you eat sweets several times a day, it may be perpetually operating at a distinct disadvantage. Further eating sugary foods can produce excessive inflammation that serves no useful purpose but promotes aging and disease.

The bottom line –

Our immune system is essential for our survival. Our lifestyle can affect how well it can protect us from germs, viruses, and chronic illnesses. Replacing bad health habits with good ones can help keep it healthy. The above tips if followed adequately can go a long way toward strengthening our immunity.

Our immune system is crucial for our survival since it helps us protect from myriads of illnesses. Our lifestyle is closely linked to our immunity. By adopting the tips mentioned in the article, we can enhance our immunity.

The Importance of Blue Light Glasses for Kids

We are surrounded by blue light no matter where we go. This is the light that gives the blue color to the sky. The same light is emitted by the screens of the mobile phones and tablets when your kid plays his favorite games. Now, the question is, does this light cause harm to the eyes of your kids? Should you buy blue light glasses for your kids? We are going to answer these questions in this article. Read on to know more.

If you worry about the health of your kids, we suggest that you don’t allow them to use their smartphones all day. Instead, you should help them follow the popular 20/20 rule. This rule is quite simple and beneficial. Just ask your kids to look 20 feet away from the screen for at least 20 seconds after they have spent 10 minutes starring at their phone or tablet screens.

Another alternative is to buy protective glasses. They offer a great degree of protection. Plus, they don’t cost a lot of money.

In case you don’t know, blue light is a visible light that features shorter wavelengths and a high level of energy unlike other wavelengths. Given below are some common sources of this wavelength:

Sunlight
Smartphones, tablets and computer screens
TV screens
LED lights
Fluorescent lights

Although we don’t have strong evidence to suggest that this wavelength can cause damage to your kids’ eyes, we can’t take risk as there could be long-term side effects.

How do the Glasses offer Protection for their Eyes?

Spending a few minutes in the sun is healthy for your kids. As a matter of fact, a little bit of regular exposure to the sun can help your kids reduce their risk for developing myopia.

Although some sun is good for human eyes and body, excessive exposure may cause retina damage over the long haul. According to research studies, kids are at a higher risk of retina damage due to constant exposure to blue light.

Moreover, prolonged exposure to this wavelength for years after years can cause visions problems after the age of 30. For instance, the exposure to UV light is associated with age-related macular degeneration. This condition may result in vision loss.

Screen Time for Children

Kids are more exposed to blue light when they are outside. However, if your kids spend most of their time looking at computer screens, they may suffer from digital eyestrain, aka computer vision syndrome. Given below are some common symptoms of this condition in kids:

Poor posture
Headaches
Fatigue
Eye tiredness
Dry eyes
Vision changes

Aside from these, there are other risks of prolonged exposure to this type of light. Therefore, we suggest that you take proper measures to save the eyesight of your kids.

The Takeaway

If you are worried about your kids’ eyesight, we suggest that you buy them a good pair of blue light sunglasses. This is the only easiest way to ensure the safety of your kids’ health.