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TURNING POINT: Understanding Corona

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 31 March) – How do we stop the coronavirus that is now wreaking havoc worldwide?

What can stop it?

Only the human immune system.

The person’s strong and healthy immune system or his vaccine-assisted immune system can disable the insidious virus and stop its catastrophic replication.

However, since a vaccine against COVID-19 is yet to develop, much rest on the capacity of our natural immune system and good practices against infection to halt the contagion.

The virus is not a living organism. It doesn’t fly, doesn’t swim, doesn’t crawl or jump from one place to another and, therefore, has no capacity to spread itself around. Humans spread it.

The virus is a DNA or RNA cell in a thin protein and fat capsule, which has no capacity to replicate by itself. Once, however, it is inhaled or transmitted, usually via your fingers, to the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose or eyes. It then travels down the respiratory tract and attaches or binds to epithelial cells lining the lung airways, hijacks the host cell’s mechanism to reproduce and through it replicates and swarms adjacent cells. It does so until it is detected by the immune (cytotoxic) cells, like the T cells – white blood cells of the body. The immune cells are produced by the different organs of the body. They join forces in killing the infected cells that host the virus and in so doing destroy the virus, stopping thereby its replication. The pieces of destroyed cells and viruses are then engulfed and digested, cleaned up by another immune cells – the macrophages. It is generally in this manner that a person with a healthy and strong immune system recovers from viral infection.

Unfortunately, the killing of the infected cells in the lungs creates damage (scarring) in the lungs similar to bronchitis, which can worsen existing lung conditions and make breathing difficult. In addition, the immune response to infection, results to a heavy buildup of mucus in the lungs that induces coughing as a reflex to clear the airways.

Normally, the damage triggered by the arrival of immune cells in the lungs is reversible in a healthy person. He is likely to recover. But it is bad news and can lead to death among the less healthy victims, like the elderly with pre-condition maladies or with a compromised immune system.

It is clear that stopping viral transmission largely depends on each one of us. It is by possessing strong immune system and, thus, by remaining healthy. And one can boost his immune system by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Health experts recommend the following:

  • Eat food rich in Vitamin C and D, like fruits and vegetables, citrus, ginger, garlic, liver, sardines, salmon, tuna and shellfish.
  • Take immune-fortifying vitamin supplements.
  • Do regular exercise to activate and strengthen the different organs of the body, thus improving the immune cells.
  • Take a trip under the early morning or late afternoon sun to catch Vitamin D.
  • Get ample sleep – a good night sleep improves the T cells of your body.
  • Laugh as often as possible; it exercises your heart
  • Do meditation to have peace of mind and eschew fear, worries and anxiety.
  • Have some hobbies to divert attention from stressful situations.

Stay healthy. Stay at home and save lives.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.)

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