Boosting immune system the best way to fight virus, experts say

Boosting immune system best way to fight virus
Boosting immune system best way to fight virus
Image: TATIANA BRALNINA/123RF

Keeping your immune system in tip-top shape — even if you haven’t tested positive for the coronavirus — is the wisest course of action, the dean of medical sciences at the Nelson Mandela University, Lungile Pepeta, said on Friday.

In addition vitamin boosters, maintaining social distancing measures at home, washing hands regularly and wearing a mask are some of the recommendations from medical experts and pharmacists on how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy while self-isolating at home.

Pepeta said although there was  no specific remedy to combat the Covid-19 virus, if you have tested positive it is advisable that you do as much as possible to boost your immune system.

Med-Lemon, vitamins C, B and D, zinc and Benylin are at the top of Pepeta’s recommendations as well as practising breathing exercises and sleeping on your stomach.

“You need to keep your system up even if you haven’t tested positive. It is important to stay healthy,” he said.

According to Pepeta if you are on a CPAP machine, usually used for the treatment of sleep apnoea, using it regularly would help with breathing and prevent hypoxia, which is considered one of the main causes of death in Covid-19 patients.

“Ventilators should be the last resort. “Recent studies show that using a CPAP machine helps to prevent hypoxia,” Pepeta said.

Besides boosting your system with vitamins and immune boosters, Pepeta said, checking your temperature daily was also important.

Pepeta said sleeping on your stomach was beneficial as it helped maintain the oxygen saturation in the blood and helped by indicating how much fluid was breathed out.

“Patients with Covid-19 who are admitted to high care are usually placed on their stomachs to help monitor their blood oxygen saturation,” Pepeta said.

Summerstrand Pharmacy pharmacist Andrew Bosworth said although he was not an expert on Covid-19, it was highly recommended to try to boost your system while self-isolating.

Vitamins C and D as well as zinc were on the top of his list for people self-isolating or trying to combat the symptoms of Covid-19.

“People need to stay well, so it is being recommended we use a three-pronged approach — 1,000ml of vitamin C, a zinc tablet and 1,000ml international units of vitamin D,” he said.

Bosworth said the approach was not to prevent getting infected, but could help to alleviate the symptoms and boost the immune system.

“There is nothing proven yet, but these are some of the guidelines we are getting from other countries,” Bosworth said.

He said besides the use of vitamins to boost the system, it was vitally important to regularly wash your hands, wear a mask at all times and sanitise, especially while at home around your family.

“Now is the worst time with the higher infection rate — the chances of coming across a person with Covid-19 is much higher because of people going to shops and the like,” Bosworth said.

Brad Martin of Rink Street Pharmacy said although it was not clear if any of the currently recommended boosters such as Vitamins C and D along with zinc worked, it was still recommended to help the immune system.

“It is all patient-dependent and the symptoms experienced — in my opinion vitamins C and zinc should be used,” Martin said.

According to Martin, some patients have been using blood thinners as well to prevent micro blood clots which could enter the lungs and cause more complications.

“About 90% of those who test positive for Covid-19 won’t experience severe symptoms,” he said.

Martin advised that those who were self-isolating — whether positive or not — should treat the situation as if they had normal flu.

“Make sure to get proper bed rest and stay hydrated. While self-isolating at home, maintain the 1.5m social distance, wash your hands, wear a mask and sanitise,” Martin said.    

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