Posted in Awareness

Tis The Season To Feel Yucky

What is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19?

Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.

There are some key differences between Flu and COVID-19.

COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and can cause more serious illnesses in some people. It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer. Another important difference is there is a vaccine to protect against flu. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. More information about differences between flu and COVID-19 is available in the different sections below.

Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.

While more is learned every day, there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it. This page compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date.

Similarities:

Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Common symptoms that COVID-19 and flu share include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults

Differences:

Flu

Flu viruses can cause mild to severe illness, including common signs and symptoms listed above.

Flu Symptoms

COVID-19

COVID-19 seems to cause more serious illnesses in some people. Other signs and symptoms of COVID-19, different from flu, may include change in or loss of taste or smell.

COVID-19 Symptoms

How long symptoms appear after exposure and infection

Similarities:

For both COVID-19 and flu, 1 or more days can pass between a person becoming infected and when he or she starts to experience illness symptoms.

Differences:

If a person has COVID-19, it could take them longer to develop symptoms than if they had flu.
Flu

Typically, a person develops symptoms anywhere from 1 to 4 days after infection.

Flu Symptoms

COVID-19

Typically, a person develops symptoms 5 days after being infected, but symptoms can appear as early as 2 days after infection or as late as 14 days after infection, and the time range can vary.

COVID-19 Symptoms

How long someone can spread the virus

Similarities:

For both COVID-19 and flu, it’s possible to spread the virus for at least 1 day before experiencing any symptoms.

Differences:

If a person has COVID-19, they may be contagious for a longer period of time than if they had flu.

Flu

Most people with flu are contagious for about 1 day before they show symptoms.

Older children and adults with flu appear to be most contagious during the initial 3-4 days of their illness but many remain contagious for about 7 days.

Infants and people with weakened immune systems can be contagious for even longer.

How Flu Spreads

COVID-19

How long someone can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 is still under investigation.

It’s possible for people to spread the virus for about 2 days before experiencing signs or symptoms and remain contagious for at least 10 days after signs or symptoms first appeared. If someone is asymptomatic or their symptoms go away, it’s possible to remain contagious for at least 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19.

How COVID-19 SpreadsTop of Page

How it Spreads

Similarities:

Both COVID-19 and flu can spread from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). Both are spread mainly by droplets made when people with the illness (COVID-19 or flu) cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

It may be possible that a person can get infected by physical human contact (e.g. shaking hands) or by touching a surface or object that has virus on it and then touching his or her own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

Both flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 may be spread to others by people before they begin showing symptoms, with very mild symptoms or who never developed symptoms (asymptomatic).

Differences:

While COVID-19 and flu viruses are thought to spread in similar ways, COVID-19 is more contagious among certain populations and age groups than flu. Also, COVID-19 has been observed to have more superspreading events than flu. This means the virus that causes COVID-19 can quickly and easily spread to a lot of people and result in continuous spreading among people as time progresses.

How Flu Spreads           How COVID-19 SpreadsTop of Page

People at High-Risk for Severe Illness

Similarities:

Both COVID-19 and flu illness can result in severe illness and complications. Those at highest risk include:

  • Older adults
  • People with certain underlying medical conditions
  • Pregnant people

Differences:

The risk of complications for healthy children is higher for flu compared to COVID-19. However, infants and children with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for both flu and COVID-19.

Flu

Young children are at higher risk of severe illness from flu.

People at High Risk for Flu Complications

COVID-19

School-aged children infected with COVID-19 are at higher risk of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a rare but severe complication of COVID-19.

People at Increased Risk of COVID-19 Severe IllnessTop of Page

Complications

Similarities:

Both COVID-19 and flu can result in complications, including:

  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (i.e. fluid in lungs)
  • Sepsis
  • Cardiac injury (e.g. heart attacks and stroke)
  • Multiple-organ failure (respiratory failure, kidney failure, shock)
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions (involving the lungs, heart, nervous system or diabetes)
  • Inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues
  • Secondary bacterial infections (i.e. infections that occur in people who have already been infected with flu or COVID-19)

Differences:

Flu

Most people who get flu will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications, some of these complications are listed above.

Flu complications

COVID-19

Additional complications associated with COVID-19 can include:

COVID-19 Emergency warning signsTop of Page

Approved Treatments

Similarities:

People at high-risk of complications or who have been hospitalized for COVID-19 or flu should receive supportive medical care to help relieve symptoms and complications.

Differences:

Flu

Prescription influenza antiviral drugs are FDA-approved to treat flu.

People who are hospitalized with flu or at high-risk of flu complications with flu symptoms are recommended to be treated with antiviral drugs as soon as possible.

Flu Treatment

COVID-19

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has developed guidance on treatment of COVID-19external icon, which will be regularly updated as new evidence on treatment options emerges.

While remdesivir is an antiviral agent that is being explored as a treatment for COVID-19 and is available under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), there are currently no drugs or other therapeutics approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent or treat COVID-19. Studies are in progress to learn more.

What to Do If You Are Sick with COVID-19Top of Page

Vaccine

Similarities:

Vaccines for COVID-19 and flu must be approved or authorized for emergency use (EUA) by the FDA.

Differences:

Flu

There are multiple FDA-licensed influenza vaccines produced annually to protect against the 3 or 4 flu viruses that scientists anticipate will circulate each year.

Flu Vaccines

COVID-19

Currently there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Vaccine developers and other researchers and manufacturers are expediting the development of a vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

Prevent Getting Sick with COVID-19

References

CDC flu https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm

CDC covid19 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

Posted in Awareness

Dealing with Re-Entry Anxiety

When COVID-19 lockdowns were first instituted, it felt, for so many people, unthinkable to have to stay home nearly 24/7.

Except for food and essentials , I also shopped for my mother in law. At first I just went about my business no mask but then when cases added up day to day I started wearing a mask.

I find myself more anxious with a mask on, harder to get good breaths which also is not good for us.

But right now we are suppose to wear them oof in stores , etc

I don’t understand why people wear mask and gloves in the car when they are alone but that’s a topic for a different day.

On occasion people like me going out also felt equally strange and nerve-wracking. I’m not only shopping for us but others as well.

But I did get more comfortable after a few weeks.

Now here we are coming the Re-entry phase everything is open people are everywhere some with masks some without.

The people I talk to have several fears , but to me I am hearing about two distinct types of re-entry anxiety.

Some people are anxious because they have a “lurking fear” of catching or spreading covid19 while others have stopped socializing and are finding it difficult to resume.

A little bit of anxiety can motivate you to follow public-health guidance like social distancing and wearing a mask where it’s required .

But when anxiety starts to interfere with your day-to-day life, it may be a problem. If you’re struggling to find the right balance, try these expert-backed tips for combating re-entry anxiety.

Take baby steps

Exposure therapy“—or safely confronting sources of fear—is the gold-standard treatment for many fear and anxiety disorders. The same tactic may help with re-entry anxiety, says Dr. Ryan Sultan, an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center in New York City.

“Don’t go from staying locked in your apartment to taking the subway,” Sultan says. Instead, set progressive small goals that will get you closer to behavior you find scary. For example, you could start with a walk in the park alone, then try chatting with a friend from your window and finally go for a walk together.

If you do feel yourself getting pulled into an anxiety spiral, focus on your breathing. “The simplest way to pull yourself back from that anxiety is to really concentrate on taking controlled, slow, deep breaths,” Sultan says.

Start soon

“Social isolation absolutely has short term mental-health impacts,” Sultan says. “But it potentially also has long-term impacts, and they’re directly proportional to the duration. The longer people avoid things that are making them anxious, the harder they will be to overcome.”

That does not mean you should rush out and socialize just like you did before coronavirus. (Large social gatherings are still not condoned by health experts, and most recommend meeting up outdoors.) But think about what you can do safely right now—perhaps sitting with a friend in your backyard while wearing masks and staying six feet apart—and take steps to do it sooner rather than later.

But think long-term

Sultan says he’s seen multiple patients who are remaining more isolated than necessary because of re-entry anxiety. He asks them a simple question: “Is this the life that you want to live indefinitely?”

Almost invariably, he says, people realize they “miss being outside, seeing their friends, living their life.” Having that moment of realization can motivate people to start taking small steps back toward normal, Sultan says.

Be wary of crutches

Brown says it’s easy for recommended public-health practices, like washing your hands regularly, to spiral into “safety behaviors” that, consciously or subconsciously, you rely on to keep anxiety at bay. Be honest about how these safety behaviors are affecting you. If wiping down your groceries “takes you five minutes and it really helps you,” it’s probably not a big deal, even if it’s not strictly recommended, Brown says. But if you’re spending hours a day cleaning your home, that could be a bigger issue. “It’s never really up to me to decide, ‘Is this behavior a problem?’” Brown says. Ask yourself, “Is it getting in the way of the life you want to be living?”

Recruit a Buddy

Like most behavior changes, quelling re-entry anxiety is easier with a buddy who can both support you and hold you accountable, Brown says.

Similarly, if someone in your life is struggling with re-entry anxiety, try to be their partner through it, Sultan says. “Ask them, ‘What would make you feel more comfortable doing this? Is there something I can do that would help you with that? What’s something you would feel comfortable with us doing?’”

If you find yourself still struggling and don’t know what to do you can also call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s hotline 24/7 at 1-800-662-4357.

They can refer you to a professional to speak with.

Posted in Awareness

Covid19 – Facts When Immune Compromised

 

After more than two months of major societal changes, including strict stay-at-home orders in most states, the closing of U.S. borders, and shutting down non-essential travel and non-essential businesses, many parts of America are beginning to ease restrictions and open back up. With so much uncertainty around the coronavirus (including an ongoing lack of testing and a vaccine months or years away) this news continues to worry patients with chronic conditions who may be at a higher risk for coronavirus complications because of their age or co-occurring health conditions.

Managing a chronic disease such as inflammatory arthritis is stressful enough without having to worry about the ongoing spread of COVID-19.

CreakyJoints spoke with multiple rheumatologists and infectious disease experts to provide information that is specific to this community.

We will update this story as critical information changes.

Coronavirus By the Numbers

Doctors and researchers are continuing to learn more about this novel (new) coronavirus named “coronavirus disease 2019” (“COVID-19”).

Here’s what we do know: The coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China in 2019, has moved its way around the world, with a total of more than 3.5 million detected cases around the world so far and nearly 250,000 deaths.

According to the latest data, the U.S. now has more than 1.2 million confirmed cases across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. There have been more than 71,00 deaths linked to coronavirus in the U.S.

While daily cases and deaths have been steadying or declining in many areas of the country, there continue to be spikes and hot spots in others. Public health experts are worried that the loosening of social distancing practices and businesses starting to reopen could lead to another prolonged increase in cases as the summer season begins.

 Coronavirus Risks for Inflammatory Arthritis

Are people with inflammatory arthritis more susceptible to the coronavirus or at a higher risk of complications like pneumonia?

“We don’t yet have data available to quantify this risk at this time,” says rheumatologist Jean Liew, MD, a senior fellow at the University of Washington in Seattle, although research on how the coronavirus is affecting rheumatology patients is underway.

In guidance recently issued from the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, the authors state:

“To our knowledge, there is currently no evidence identifying risk factors of poor outcome with COVID-19 that are specific to rheumatic disease … risk factors of poor outcome with COVID-19 include older age and select comorbidity such as chronic lung disease, hypertension, cardiovascular disease (CVD), chronic kidney disease (CKD), obesity and diabetes mellitus, conditions frequently overrepresented in patients with rheumatic disease.”

In other words, based on what is known right now, age and comorbidities seem to be bigger influences on poor outcomes from COVID-19 than having an inflammatory condition alone.

How Inflammatory Conditions Affect Your Immune System

It is important to understand how inflammatory conditions like arthritis affect your immune system.

First, when inflammatory arthritis is not well-controlled (not in remission or low disease activity) your immune system tends to focus on attacking your own body rather than outside threats (like the coronavirus).

This can make you “immunocompromised” and might increase your chance of COVID-19 complications, but more data is needed.

Second, some of the medications used to manage arthritis and inflammatory conditions modify the function of the immune system, which can make patients more vulnerable to infection in general, though more research is needed to understand how various medications affect COVID-19 risk specifically.

Third, many rheumatologic patients have other risk factors or underlying health issues linked to coronavirus complications, such as older age, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and obesity.

“[The coronavirus pandemic] is certainly concerning for everyone, especially those who are immunocompromised,” says Nilanjana Bose, MD, MBA, a rheumatologist at the Rheumatology Center of Houston in Pearland, Texas. “We need to exercise more caution and be more alert with these patients.”

The CDC Definition of High-Risk Patients

The CDC defines the following groups as high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, severe obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, liver disease
  • People who are immunocompromised from cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune-weakening medications

If you have risk factors that place you at a possible higher risk for coronavirus complications, it is natural to feel ongoing worry and anxiety as the pandemic ensues. These tips can help.

How to Stay Healthy During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Here is what you should do to stay safe and healthy during the coronavirus pandemic.

1. Know coronavirus symptoms

According to the CDC, symptoms usually appear within two to 14 days of being exposed to the virus. People with COVID-19 can have a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe, and new symptoms have been added since the beginning of the pandemic:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

Keep in mind that because coronavirus symptoms can vary from mild to severe, you shouldn’t necessarily panic if you develop any of them.

Call your rheumatologist or primary care doctor right away to determine next steps. Do not go to see your doctor or an urgent care center in person without calling first so they can advise on precautions, where to go, and how to arrive safely.

Many patients with autoimmune and inflammatory diseases have concerns about coronavirus symptoms possibly overlapping with those of their underlying chronic conditions.

Read more about coronavirus symptoms in autoimmune and chronic illness patients.

2. Understand how coronavirus spreads

“Coronavirus is a respiratory illness and spread very readily through close contact,” says William Schaffner, MD, a professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee— for instance, if an infected person coughs or sneezes less than six feet away from you.

Some studies suggest that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms, which is why the CDC now recommends wearing cloth face masks in public.

Coronavirus may also be spread through an airborne route, which, according to Johns Hopkins, means “that tiny droplets remaining in the air could cause disease in others even after the ill person is no longer near.”

You may also contract coronavirus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then by touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University scientists, published in The New England Journal of Medicinecoronavirus is detectable on the following:

  • Aerosols: up to three hours
  • Copper: up to four hours
  • Cardboard: up to 24 hours
  • Plastic and stainless steel: up to two to three days

3. Stop the spread of germs

Washing your hands (for at least 20 seconds with soap and water) is the hands-down (pun intended) winner when it comes to preventing the spread of germs. Here’s a video from the World Health Organization that shows proper hand washing techniques.

The CDC also advises such commonsense measures as:

  • Avoiding touching your mouth, nose, and eyes
  • Avoiding people who are coughing and sneezing
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Practicing social distancing, which includes staying at least six feet away from other people and not gathering in large groups
  • Wearing cloth face masks in public places

4. Stay home as much as possible

Even as stay-at-home mandates become lifted across the U.S., the CDC continues to urge people at higher risk of COVID-19 complications to stay home as much as possible. If you do need to go out — to go to a doctor appointment or pharmacy — wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Grocery stores are best avoided if you are at higher risk, so utilize online grocery delivery service or curbside pick-up or ask a family member or friend to pick up essentials for you.

Continue to avoid unnecessary errands.

5. Maintain healthy lifestyle habits

The same lifestyle habits that you follow to help your immune system to function optimally are important for staying well during the coronavirus pandemic.

Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid taking “immune booster” supplements, says rheumatologist Doug Roberts, MD, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of California Davis Medical School. “Some of these may interfere with the immunomodulating effects of your DMARDs [disease-modifying medications].”

It is always a good idea to get your doctor’s approval for any over-the-counter supplements.

6. Maintain your usual medication regimen

The biggest concerns among patients with rheumatologic and inflammatory conditions throughout the coronavirus pandemic have had to do with medications and their potential effects on infection risk.

Medications commonly used to treat inflammatory arthritis and related conditions, including corticosteroids, DMARDs, biologics, and JAK inhibitors do modify the immune system, but many questions remain about their impact on COVID-19 specifically.

There is not yet definitive evidence whether certain medications are causing worse outcomes for patients, or, on the flip side, are even possibly protective against COVID-19 complications.

The most important message is this: You should not stop taking any medications or adjust your dose of any medications without first talking to your doctor.

In general, if you don’t have COVID-19 and are stable on your current regimen, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) recommends that you stick with the following medications:

  • Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine
  • Sulfasalazine
  • Methotrexate
  • Leflunomide
  • Immunosuppressants (such as tacrolimus and cyclosporine)
  • Biologics
  • Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

The guidance suggests that patients on corticosteroids should take the lowest possible dose to manage symptoms because they can increase your risk of infection, even more so than other types of disease-modifying medications.

If you are exposed to COVID-19 or have a known coronavirus infection, your doctor might suggest you stop certain medications while you fight the infection and then resume them once you have recovered.

Never make any changes to your medication regimen without first discussing them with your doctor.

7. Stay in touch with your doctors and manage your chronic conditions

It is important to make sure your inflammatory conditions are well-controlled. Arthritis that is flaring means that your immune system may be less able to fight off infection.

If you are experiencing pain, fatigue, or other symptoms, contact your doctor. Many doctors are utilizing telemedicine appointments to see patients, so you may not necessarily need to see your doctor in person.

Read more about how practices are implementing telehealth.

If your doctor wants you to come for an in-person visit, know that offices have dramatically changed their environments and systems to ensure safety for patients (as well as for their doctors, nurses, and staff).

You can ask your doctor’s office about their rules. Many changes including taking patients’ temperatures and checking for coronavirus symptoms upon arrival, ensuring social distancing in waiting rooms or eliminating waiting rooms altogether, and limiting the number of patients in the office at one time — not to mention disinfecting measures and personal protective equipment (PPE).

The bottom line for now: The coronavirus has certainly dramatically changed all of our lives and continues to raise concerns for those who may be at a higher risk for infection and complications. For now, keep this advice in mind to stay healthy, safe, and calm:

  • Practice social distancingand good handwashing and hygiene habits per public health guidance
  • Take care of your mental health and wellness with stress management, healthy eating, and physical activity
  • Remain on your current medications and never stop or change a medication without talking to your doctor
  • Stay in touch with your doctor and keep your appointments (either in person or telemedicine)

Get Free Coronavirus Support for Chronic Illness Patients

Join the Global Healthy Living Foundation’s free COVID-19 Support Program for chronic illness patients and their families. We will be providing updated information, community support, and other resources tailored specifically to your health and safety. Join now.

Sources

 

SUSAN JARAMORE FROM AUTHOR

 

immune3

 

Posted in Awareness

Medicare and Covid19 Testing and Hospitalization

Coronavirus test

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers a test to see if you have coronavirus (officially called 2019-novel coronavirus or COVID-19). This test is covered when your doctor or other health care provider orders it.

Your costs in Original Medicare

You pay nothing for this test.

What it is

Tests done to help your doctor diagnose or rule out a suspected illness or condition.  In some circumstances, a home health nurse, laboratory technician, or an appropriately-trained medical assistant may give you this test in your home. 

Things to know

Medicare also covers preventive tests and screenings to help prevent, find, or manage a medical problem.

Related resources

Center for Disease Control’s response to the coronavirus

Inpatient hospital care

Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) covers inpatient hospital care when all of these are true:

  • You’re admitted to the hospital as an inpatient after an official doctor’s order, which says you need inpatient hospital care to treat your illness or injury.
  • The hospital accepts Medicare.
  • In certain cases, the Utilization Review Committee of the hospital approves your stay while you’re in the hospital.

Your costs in Original Medicare

Note

See how Medicare is responding to Coronavirus.

Note

Your doctor or other health care provider may recommend you get services more often than Medicare covers. Or, they may recommend services that Medicare doesn’t cover. If this happens, you may have to pay some or all of the costs. Ask questions so you understand why your doctor is recommending certain services and whether Medicare will pay for them.

What it is

Medicare-covered hospital services include:

  • Semi-private rooms
  • Meals
  • General nursing
  • Drugs as part of your inpatient treatment
  • Other hospital services and supplies

Things to know

Inpatient mental health care in a psychiatric hospital is limited to 190 days in a lifetime.

Inpatient hospital care includes care you get in:

  • Acute care hospitals
  • Critical access hospitals
  • Inpatient rehabilitation facilities
  • Long-term care hospitals
  • Inpatient care as part of a qualifying clinical research study
  • Mental health care

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)

covers your doctors’ services you get while you’re in a hospital.

This doesn’t include:

  • Private-duty nursing
  • Private room (unless medically necessary )
  • Television and phone in your room (if there’s a separate charge for these items)
  • Personal care items, like razors or slipper socks

Medicare & Coronavirus

How to stay up to date:

  • Coronavirus.gov is the source for the latest information about COVID-19 prevention, symptoms, and answers to common questions. 
  • CDC.gov/coronavirus has the latest public health and safety information from CDC and for the overarching medical and health provider community on COVID-19.
  • USA.gov has the latest information about what the U.S. Government is doing in response to COVID-19.

Medicare wants to help protect you from COVID-19:

Your health, safety, and welfare in the face of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is our highest priority. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung, or kidney disease seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness.  This means that most people with Medicare are at higher risk.

Follow the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America

Visit Whitehouse.gov for the full set of guidelines. Here are some critical ways for you to do your part:

  • Listen to and follow the directions of your state and local authorities.
  • Keep the entire household at home if someone in your household has tested positive for coronavirus. 
  • If you’re an older person or if you’re a person with a serious underlying health condition that can put you at increased risk (like a condition that impairs your lung or heart function or weakens your immune system), stay home and away from other people.

Slow the spread of coronavirus

All of us must do our part to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. Here’s how to help:

  • Avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.
  • Avoid close contact (6 feet, which is about two arm lengths) with people who are sick.
  • Work or engage in schooling from home whenever possible.
  • Avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts — use drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options.
  • Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits.

Hygiene precautions to take now

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being out in public, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places, like elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, and handshaking with people. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, and eyes.
  • Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces—tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks and cell phones.

Preparing for healthcare needs

  • Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (like tissues) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
  • Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you’ll be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.

Coping with stress

Older people are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 which may result in increased stress during a crisis. Here are a few things you can do to cope with that stress:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories and social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
  • If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others, call 
    • 911
    • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 (TTY: 1-800-846-8517).

Medicare covers related needs

  • Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19. You pay no out-of-pocket costs.
  • Medicare covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay, but instead you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine.
  • At this time, there’s no vaccine for COVID-19. However, if one becomes available, it will be covered by all Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D)
  • If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you have access to these same benefits. Medicare allows these plans to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 lab tests. Many plans offer additional telehealth benefits beyond the ones described below. Check with your plan about your coverage and costs.
  • Scammers may use the coronavirus national emergency to take advantage of people while they’re distracted. As always, guard your Medicare card like a credit card, check Medicare claims summary forms for errors, and if someone calls asking for your Medicare Number, hang up!

Telehealth & related services 

Medicare has temporarily expanded its coverage of telehealth services to respond to the current Public Health Emergency. These services expand the current telehealth covered services, to help you have access from more places (including your home), with a wider range of communication tools (including smartphones), to interact with a range of providers (such as doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social worker). During this time, you will be able to receive a specific set of services through telehealth including evaluation and management visits (common office visits), mental health counseling and preventive health screenings without a copayment if you have Original Medicare. This will help ensure you are able to visit with your doctor from your home, without having to go to a doctor’s office or hospital, which puts you and others at risk of exposure to COVID-19.

  • You may be able to communicate with your doctors or certain other practitioners without necessarily going to the doctor’s office in person for a full visit. Medicare pays for “virtual check-ins”—brief, virtual services with your physician or certain practitioners where the communication isn’t related to a medical visit within the previous 7 days and doesn’t lead to a medical visit within the next 24 hours (or soonest appointment available). 
  • You need to consent verbally to using virtual check-ins and your doctor must document that consent in your medical record before you use this service. You pay your usual Medicare coinsurance and deductible for these services. 
  • Medicare also pays for you to communicate with your doctors using online patient portals without going to the doctor’s office. Like the virtual check-ins, you must initiate these individual communications. 
  • If you live in a rural area, you may use communication technology to have full visits with your doctors. The law requires that these visits take place at specified sites of service, known as telehealth originating sites, and get services using a real-time audio and video communication system at the site to communicate with a remotely located doctor or certain other types of practitioners. Medicare pays for many medical visits through this telehealth benefit. 

Other ways Medicare is helping

Every day, Medicare is responsible for developing and enforcing the essential health and safety requirements that health care providers must meet. When you go to a healthcare provider, you expect a certain standard of care, and we work to make sure you get it. That includes taking additional steps in response to coronavirus:

  • Taking aggressive actions and exercising regulatory flexibilities to help healthcare providers and Medicare health plans.
  • As part of an effort to address the urgent need to increase capacity to care for patients, hospitals can now provide hospital services in other healthcare facilities and sites that aren’t currently considered part of a healthcare facility. This includes off-site screenings.
  • Waiving certain requirements for skilled nursing facility care.
  • Establishing new codes to allow providers to correctly bill for services related to diagnosis and treatment of the illness.
  • Instructing our national network of State Survey Agencies and Accrediting Organizations to focus all their efforts on infection prevention and other cases of abuse and neglect in nursing homes and hospitals.
  • Instructing nursing homes and hospitals to review their infection control procedures, which they’re required to maintain at all times.
  • Issuing important guidance answering questions that nursing homes may have with respect to addressing cases of COVID-19.

Related resources

Posted in Awareness

Everyone Can Get Covid19 A Must Read for RA and Lupus Patients or anyone taking Plaquenil

I am not picking in our POTUS because whether you like him or dislike him he has a really tough job, that being said we must know the facts about Plaquenil and stop some of guessing games. I don’t know if he was given misinformation but from what I have read there is not evidence that this study even exists. see below for full information

You may have seen recent headlines suggesting that people with lupus, an autoimmune disease that affects about 1.5 million Americans, don’t contract coronavirus because many of them take hydroxychloroquine.

This information is not true, and the Global Healthy Living Foundation needs to set the record straight based on data and medical expertise.

Hydroxychloroquine — a first-line lupus therapy that is also commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatologic conditions — is currently being studied as a potential treatment for COVID-19 because of its anti-viral properties. But there is no conclusive evidence of its benefits for covid19 yet.

During a White House briefing Saturday April 4, President Trump suggested there was possibly some research showing that lupus patients did not get coronavirus. The implication was that perhaps taking hydroxychloroquine was protecting them. Maybe I misunderstood what was being said.

And as I said I will not pick on the POTUS because he really has a tough job , now more than ever.

“They should look at the lupus thing. I don’t know what it says, but there’s a rumor out there that because it takes care of lupus very effectively as I understand it, and it’s a, you know, a drug that’s used for lupus,” President Trump said during the briefing. “So there’s a study out there that says people that have lupus haven’t been catching this virus. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not.”

It is not true.

Emerging Data on Lupus Patients and COVID-19

A couple of weeks ago, as the coronavirus pandemic was massively increasing in scale and impact, rheumatology researchers from around the globe started collaborating to collect data on patients with such conditions as lupus to answer questions exactly like this. Do patients with autoimmune conditions fare differently from COVID-19 than the general population? Do certain medications lead to better or worse outcomes?

The registry is called the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance. (The Global Healthy Living Foundation and its arthritis patient community CreakyJoints was one of its first members and advisers.) More data is being collected daily and certainly it is too early to make any definitive conclusions about COVID-19 in rheumatology patients, but the data so far show that:

  1. Lupus patients do, in fact, get COVID-19.
  2. Many of them are taking hydroxychloroquine at the time of their diagnosis.

According to information from the registry shared over the last few days on Twitter, the registry now has data on 110 patients. Most patients have rheumatoid arthritis (36 percent), followed by psoriatic arthritis and lupus (17 percent each).

On April 2 — two days before the President’s recent statements about lupus and hydroxychloroquine — the registry Tweeted: “One frequently asked question: Over 25% of patients who developed a COVID-19 were on HCQ [hydroxychloroquine] at the time of diagnosis.”

Last night, the registry tweeted: “Based on early data currently available in our registry, we are not able to report any evidence of a protective effect from hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19. A randomized, controlled trial would be the only way to study this to get a reliable answer to this question.”

Rheumatologists who treat patients with lupus are concerned about rumors suggesting patients are less susceptible to COVID-19.

Misinformation like this puts patients at risk, says rheumatologist Grace C. Wright, MD, PhD, founder and president of the Association of Women in Rheumatology (AWIR). “There is no data that hydroxychloroquine is protective against contracting COVID-19.” She, and many other rheumatologists the Global Healthy Living Foundation has spoken with over the last several days and weeks, worry that it could be a serious issue if people who take hydroxychloroquine mistakenly think they are protected from infection.

Rheumatologist Robin K. Dore, MD, clinical professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, shared this message on her patient portal:

To Dr. Dore’s patients who are taking Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine), there is no evidence that this medication prevents one from developing a COVID-19 infection. This medication is now being studied to determine if it lessens the severity of the infection once a person has developed the disease. Dr. Dore urges you to continue social distancing, hand washing, and wearing a face covering when you are out in the public. Do not feel that you are immune to the virus if you are taking Plaquenil. Further updates will follow as appropriate.

Concerns About Access to Hydroxychloroquine

Other parts of the White House briefing continued to exacerbate fears among lupus and other rheumatology patients about having access to hydroxychloroquine, which has been in short supply due to its current use as an experimental COVID-19 therapy.

President Trump urged Americans to take the medication: “What do you have to lose? Take it. I really think they should take it. But it’s their choice. And it’s their doctor’s choice or the doctors in the hospital. But hydroxychloroquine. Try it, if you’d like.”

Messages like these could further impact the availability of this crucial medication for people who take it every day to prevent complications from lupus and other conditions.

We have written before about how denying hydroxychloroquine prescriptions to rheumatology patients, which is occurring in the Kaiser Permanente health care system in California right now, for example, is dangerous and even life-threatening. We have also explained how hydroxychloroquine is used to treat lupus and other rheumatologic conditions. To reiterate some of those key points:

“If a patient has to stop taking hydroxychloroquine, they are more likely to experience a flare,” says Ashira Blazer, MD, a rheumatologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City whose clinical research focuses on lupus. “And the last thing we want is for patients not to be able to take a drug that is helping them, then flare, then require heavier immunosuppressing drugs, then be more immunocompromised, and then contract COVID-19.”

“Hydroxychloroquine is a safe, effective, and inexpensive therapy for conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis,” says Dr. Blazer. “If there is a big shortage, it will exacerbate health disparities. People who need an effective and affordable drug won’t be able to get it. There is a risk of mortality, especially for minority women who are disproportionately affected by serious lupus complications, if hydroxychloroquine is not made available to our most vulnerable patients.”

Experiencing Issues Accessing Hydroxychloroquine? Tell Us

If you are a patient living with a chronic illness and are having trouble getting access to hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), we want to hear from you. Click here to share your story with us.

Get Free Coronavirus Support for Chronic Illness Patients

Join the Global Healthy Living Foundation’s free COVID-19 Support Program for chronic illness patients and their families. We will be providing updated information, community support, and other resources tailored specifically to your health and safety. Join now.

Video

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/carlieporterfield/2020/04/04/trump-makes-claim-about-lupus-and-coronavirus-but-maybe-its-false/amp/

Posted in Awareness

What happens inside the body with covid19

The short on covid19 and what happens inside the body

It happens when someone infected with covid19 lets it out via a cough or sneeze

You can’t see it- but the droplet makes it’s way into someone else say their nose eyes or mouth

The virus

It can find its way deep inside the lungs. And hides and invades the cells in the air sacks in the lung.

They then high jack our cells machinery and uses our own body to replicate and grown more invaders , that tips off our immune system saying hey!!! Somethings wrong send help.

So the body sending in white blood cells to fight off the infection- but this causes the infection and now inflammation to produce pneumonia .

Which is fluid building up inside the air sac inside the lungs and this can become severe -So severe it can cause acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)

ARDS is the reason many will lose their life .

So please wash your hands often, keep them away from your face , cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow.

Better yet- Stay home.

Stop thinking it won’t happen to you.

Because you may be near someone who is infected and has no symptoms at all they you bring it home to a child spouse or elderly parent or grandparent.

Stay home 15 days

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy day.

Deb Andio.

Reference

Cleveland Clinic

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/heres-the-damage-coronavirus-covid-19-can-do-to-your-lungs/amp/

Phone is also attached to link of reference.

Posted in Awareness

Make your own hand sanitizer

 

When it comes to preventing the spread of infectious diseases like colds , flu, and now COVID-19, nothing beats good old-fashioned hand washing. 

But if water and soap aren’t available, your next best option, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, is to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Unless you have a stockpile of store-bought hand sanitizer, you’ll likely have a hard time finding any at a store or online right now. Due to the rapid spread of t covid19 most retailers can’t keep up with the demand for hand sanitizer.

And you will find price gouging all over the internet and  SHAME on YOU that takes advantage of others !

The good news? All it takes is two-three ingredients to make your own hand sanitizer at home. Read on to find out how.

 

Making your own hand sanitizer is easy to do and only requires a few ingredients:

The key to making an effective, germ-busting hand sanitizer is to stick to a 2:1 proportion of alcohol to aloe vera. This keeps the alcohol content around 60 percent. This is the minimum amount needed to kill most germs, according to the CDCTrusted Source.

 

Hand sanitizer recipe

What you’ll need: 

  • 3/4 cup of isopropyl or rubbing alcohol (90-99 percent)
  • 1/4 cup of aloe vera gel (to help keep your hands smooth and to counteract the harshness of alcohol) I like
    Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera 100% Gel Crystal Clear but as long as its pure aloe it should be good and should not cost more than 6 – 8 bucks for a 24 oz size
    isopropyl or rubbing alcohol (90-99 percent) costs 1-2 bucks
    optional for scent
  • 3 drops of essential oil, such as lavender oil, eucalyptus, orange or you can use lemon juice instead. Too much will dry out your skin.

Directions:

  • Pour all ingredients into a bowl, ideally one with a pouring spout like a glass measuring container.
  • Mix with a spoon and then beat with a whisk to turn the sanitizer into a gel.
  • Pour the ingredients into an empty bottle or spray bottles for easy use, and label it “hand sanitizer.”

Keep out of reach of children

The information provided on this site is opinion and entertainment only and is not ever intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional.

You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment.

Deb Andio