The Whitworths of Arizona, bringing science to you in everyday language.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Recovering from Covid, Pt. 2

Last week’s blog was about using activity and posture to assist you or your loved one to recover from a bout of Covid.  It and this week’s blog are based on a list about “fighting Covid at home” that was circulated online by a woman who was sent home from the hospital to recover. It is important to note here that these blogs are NOT about preventing Covid, but about assisting the recovery after it been identified and treated. This week’s blog is about diet and nutrition. As I did last week, I have crossed out those items unsupported by science and added my own comments in italics.
  • Eat at least 1 - 2 eggs a day, plus bananas, avocado and asparagus. These are good for potassium.  (Good foods to eat anytime. While potassium does not prevent infection, it does promote recovery.)
  • Do not drink anything cold - have it at room temperature or warm it up. (There is a notion that cold water may cause lungs to become scarred. There is no evidence to support this claim.)
  • Do drink lots of fluids. Water with lemon, and little honey, peppermint tea, apple cider are good suggestions for getting in fluids. (Staying hydrated is important for maintaining good health and for supporting your immune system.)
  • No milk products. (Milk products are good sources of nutrition. Although once thought to create more phlegm in the lungs, they do not.  They do make existing phlegm thicker and more irritating, in which case they are best avoided just until the phlegm goes away.)
  • Drink a smoothie of blueberries, strawberries, bananas, honey, tea and a spoon or two of peanut butter. (Antioxidants, a natural sweet and a little protein--all healthy foods that will help to boost immunity. Use green tea for an even greater immune boost.)
The doctor also recommended the following supplements and drugs. Brand names are shown but you can buy generics for most of these items and they will usually be just as good--and much less expensive! Be sure to check with your doctor before using any of them. Normally you might not do this for yourself, but if you are already recovering from Covid, you and your doctor need to be on the same page. Don’t take anything that hasn’t been approved. And of course, Covid or not, check with your loved one’s doctor giving them to your loved one.
  • Sports drinks with electrolytes (Pedialyte, Gatorade Zero, Powerade Zero) to prevent you from becoming dehydrated. (Electrolytes help your immune system recover from Covid but drinking them will not prevent it.)
  • Vitamin’s D3, C, B, Zinc, Probiotic One-Day are good ideas. (As above, these all support your immune system as you recover from Covid but they will not prevent it.)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever. (An old favorite and fairly safe, used sparingly.)
  • Guaifenesin (Mucinex) for drainage, plus helps the cough. (Avoid giving your loved one those with additional ingredients such as Mucinex DM. They can cause problems with LBD.)
  • Famotidine (Pepcid) helps for cramps in your legs. (This is an antiacid used to treat heartburn and is unsupported by research for use with leg cramps. Try drinking more water!)
  • One baby aspirin everyday can help prevent getting a blood clot, which can occur from low activity. (While there is evidence that Covid patients clot more easily, evidence for use in milder cases is lacking. Ask your doctor if you need this.)
The bottom line is, stay active, stay hydrated and eat healthy with a focus on potassium-rich foods (not supplements, which aren't very helpful), antioxidant-rich foods and supplements that support your immune system. I hope this helps you, your loved one or someone you know.

For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia
Responsive Dementia Care: Fewer Behaviors Fewer Drugs
Lewy Body Dementia: A Manual for Staff

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Recovering from Covid, Pt 1

We all know our loved ones are often better off at home than in a hospital where the staff may not know how to treat their LBD-related symptoms safely. This does not mean you should try to treat your loved one’s Covid at home without a doctor’s guidance or that you should avoid using hospitalization when needed. However, with hospitals as crowded as they are, doctors are often encouraging home care and you may be faced with this task. If you are dealing with Covid yourself, you may also be dealing with it at home. The same goes for you as for your loved one. Don't try to treat yourself at home without a doctor's guidance.  Of course, if you have Covid  someone else needs to care for your loved one until you aren't contagious. (Yes, I know. This is often a difficult thing to make happen but it is still critical.)

The following list about "fighting Covid at home" has been circulating online and it's likely you've already seen it. A woman who had Covid and was being discharged from the hospital to finish recovering asked what she could do to fight the virus at home. Her doctor gave her this list. I liked the concept but decided I should check it out a bit before I passed it on. I found that there are several issues with it. I've left but crossed out the items that aren't supported by science and added comments in italics.

Your loved one may not be able to do some of even the more helpful  things or may need your help. But first, let me reiterate, this is for someone who has been treated for Covid and sent home to recover—not someone who is trying to avoid Covid.
  • Sleep on your stomach to give your lungs more room to work and prevent fluid from setting in.(No evidence that this benefits (or harms) a person who does not already require ventilation. And if you are that sick, you need to be in a hospital!)
  • Set your alarm for every two hours, then get out of bed and walk for 15-30 min, no matter how tired or weak that you are. (Getting adequate sleep is also important. Most seniors need to get up several times a night anyway. Instead of setting an alarm, use these times to do some extra walking. However, if that little bit of exercise tires you out or makes you feel winded, it can be a sign that pneumonia may be developing. Call the doctor!)
  • Breathe in thru your nose, and out thru your mouth. This will help build up your lungs, plus help get rid of excess fluid in your lungs. (Only important if you were sent home from the hospital recovering from Covid-related pneumonia.)
  • Move your arms around frequently, it helps to open your lungs. (However, it is important not to overdo. Exercise only as much as you can do without feeling out of breath.)
  • While watching TV - get up and walk during every commercial. (As above, exercise is good as long as it doesn’t tire you out or cause shortness of breath.)
  • When sitting in a recliner, sit up straight. (This helps your lungs work better.)
Next week's blog will finish this with some suggestions for diet and nutrition. Bottom line for this segment is to keep active without overdoing and use your posture to help your lungs function as well as they can.

Two other things: 1. In view of how much of the original online post was not scientifically supported or incomplete , check out what you read, especially online, before you accept it as fact! 2. Remember that this is about  how to help your body (or your loved one's body) recover once Covid has been identified and treated, not how to avoid it!

For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia
Responsive Dementia Care: Fewer Behaviors Fewer Drugs
Lewy Body Dementia: A Manual for Staff

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.