Coronavirus Thoughts from a High-Risk Perspective

As older and less-healthy adults, what are we to do?

On Tuesday, we looked at the coronavirus in terms of facts versus myths. Now, we offer coronavirus thoughts from a high-risk perspective.

As those of you who read Living Well While Surviving Cancer already know, the author of this blog (Joel Evans) is a pancreatic cancer survivor with a compromised immune system. As well as a Type I diabetic. And a senior citizen. That puts me in the highest-risk category if I contract COVID-19.

Something else to worry about. Or not. After all, what am I supposed to do now? I refuse to lock myself in my house. But what smart things should I do?

Psychologically, I was fine until the CDC issued an advisory for older adults. According to a CNN report:

[On Thursday March 5, 2020] “Amid a coronavirus outbreak in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging older people and people with severe chronic medical conditions to stay at home as much as possible.'”

“This advice is on a CDC Web site, according to a CDC spokeswoman. Early data suggest older people are twice as likely to have serious illness from the novel coronavirus, according to the CDC.”

“The CDC guidance comes as two top infectious disease experts with ties to the federal government have advised people over 60 and those with underlying health problems to strongly consider avoiding activities that involve large crowds. Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University professor and longtime adviser to the CDC, said these two groups should consider avoiding activities such as traveling by airplane, going to movie theaters, attending family events, shopping at crowded malls, and going to religious services.”

Also, check out the CNN video.

My Advice to Myself

In light of the CDC’s warning and my health status, what am I to do? My answer for ME (which may be different than your advice for YOU) is to BOTH be smart and live life every day.

I will go out to restaurants, but not to movie theaters. Linda and are rethinking our vacation plans and not going on the cruise we were planning. Also, the thought of air travel does not excite me. I will wash my hands more often and more thoroughly.  I will continue my volunteer work at United Cerebral. I guess I will fist pump rather than shake hands, even though this seems somewhat silly to me.

When I started thinking about doing this post, I looked for information from AARP. And as expected, it has a terrific section of its Web site devoted to COVID-19:

“Older Americans and adults who take routine medications to manage chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, should make sure they have ‘adequate supplies’ on hand as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to climb in the U.S.”

“Avoiding sick people and washing your hands often are two preventive strategies public health experts have been pushing to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Older Americans living in areas that are experiencing spikes in coronavirus cases may also need to think about the actions they take to reduce exposure to the virus.  This may include social distancing strategies, such as teleworking and avoiding large public gatherings.”

“Health officials also advise taking everyday steps that can prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. Wash your hands often with soap and water (scrub for at least 20 seconds), and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap is not an option. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. And cover your coughs and sneezes. “

Click the image to read a lot more from AARP.

Coronavirus Thoughts from a High-Risk Perspective

About the Coronavirus

Facts versus myths.

We have waited until this week to write about the coronavirus. Why? Because of the fast-changing situations around the world. As well as the considerable misinformation that has been spread.

Today, we strive to learn more about the facts surrounding the coronavirus. Thursday, we look at the coronavirus from the perspective of someone who is considered high risk. That person is me (Joel Evans).

Digging Out Facts About the Coronavirus

It is amazing that new details are coming out every day about the coronavirus, in terms of symptoms, testing, the number contracting the virus,  what to do with those who are infected, etc.

Worldwide, there has been a lack of transparency with regard to so many aspects of the coronavirus. And there is a worldwide panic about the looming “pandemic.” About 300 million children have had their schools closed.  Numerous events have been cancelled or postponed. And lots of companies have asked/told their employees to work at home.

Background

We are NOT going into depth about the statistics on the coronavirus, formally name COVID-19. They are constantly changing. As of the writing of this post, COVID-19 has spread to nearly 100 countries, affected more than 100,000 people worldwide, and resulted in about 3,500 deaths.

As reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation:

“In late 2019, a new coronavirus emerged in central China to cause disease in humans. Cases of this disease, known as COVID-19, have since been reported across China and in many other countries around the globe. On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus represents a public health emergency of international concern. And on January 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared it to be a health emergency for the United States.”

This tracker provides the number of cases and deaths from novel coronavirus by country, the trend in case and death counts by country, and a global map showing which countries have cases and deaths. The data are drawn directly from official  coronavirus situation reports released regularly by the WHO. It should be noted that the WHO reported case numbers are conservative, and likely represent an undercount of the true number of coronavirus cases, especially in China. The tracker will be updated regularly, as new situation reports are released.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”) is the U.S. agency overseeing efforts. Click here for its COVID-19 Web site.

Key Facts

Following, we present several other strong sources of information.

Johns Hopkins probably has the most accurate data about COVID-19 in the United States and around the world. It regularly contacts health organizations and even has a real-time interactive map. Click the image to access the map.

About the Coronavirus

In addition, Johns Hopkins provides a free quiz on the myths and facts of COVID-19. Click here to access it.  BE AWARE.

The European Union has a dedicated COVID-19 Web site. As well as an infographic overview.

About the Coronavirus

Consumer Reports has an-depth COVID-19 Web site. Click the link at the start of this line. Then, click the image for a very good series of FAQs,

About the Coronavirus

Worldvision.org also has an excellent, full-featured Web site.

 

Best Health News Stories of the 2010s

Health advances of the 2010s

As we confront the ramifications of the coronavirus, we also have to consider the overall state of healthcare. [We will have a post on the coronavirus in the near future. We’ve been waiting to get more clarity, rather than make comments based on conjecture.]

Sometimes, when we’re feeling let down by the health care system, we need to also read about good news. Thus, today’s post: Best Health News Stories of the 2010s.

According to 24/7 Wall St., here are 15 of the top health news stories of the past decade, MOSTLY good: 

“The 2010s will go down in history as a decade of many newsworthy health-related stories, many of which are not good news — Ebola, measles, antibiotic resistance. But the years since 2010 were not all bad. Many good things happened, too, and some of them will have a lasting effect for generations to come. 24/7 Tempo went through multiple news archives. We read dozens of articles published since 2010 and selected 15 of the most positive health news that made headlines.”

“Some of the most talked about stories over the last few years have influenced health guidelines, treatment of serious disease, and even government policy. Reports of significant research developments in the treatment and prevention of chronic and other conditions gave hope to millions of Americans. Some of the good news broke as recently just a few months ago .”

Here are the 15 – in chronological order from earliest to latest. Click the link above to read a lot more.

        • CT scans in high risk patients to reduce overall lung cancer mortality
        • Melanoma drug approved
        • Gene editing now possible
        • FDA reports trans fat should not be considered ‘safe’
        • HIV prevention pill
        • New way to treat cavities
        • 3D printing of human organs
        • Immunotherapy and cancer
        • Opioid crisis recognized as national public health emergency
        • Early-stage Alzheimer’s treatment
        • Smoking rates at all-time low
        • Cystic fibrosis treatment approved by FDA
        • Second HIV patient goes into remission
        • Blood test detects breast cancer 5 years early
        • Finding a cure for arthritis

Unfortunately, the one negative story out of the 15 involves the opioid epidemic.
 

The Debate Over Transparency

Having more information is a must.

Among many other issues, we know of the debate over transparency with regard to all aspects of our health care.

As we reported before, here are related posts:

In 2020, the Debate Over Transparency Goes On

Recently, Wolters Klur conducted a major survey on the American healthcare system. Note: Click the image below to access the 15-page summary of the report. A free login is required.

“Healthcare continues to be elevated to the national stage. Hospital leaders, those on the front lines of care, and consumers are assessing their priorities In the coming year (2020), and beyond. Due to shifting healthcare policies and rising costs.”

“Providers and payers are preparing for a cadre of tougher policies on everything from sharing patient data across a broader network of healthcare players to more pricing transparency. Including real-time pricing. As well as information about medications. Hospital leaders are making tough decisions on how to squeeze further costs out of the system and more effectively manage care over the next few years. And, consumers are contemplating the best ways to manage their own health under the burden of higher costs, new models of care, and rules on benefits and coverage.”

The Debate Over Transparency
 

Cancer Treatment, Coping, and Support

Source of lots of resources on fighting cancer.

Merck has an excellent Web site called MerckEngage that deals with cancer.

Here are some helpful links:

Click the image to read a lot more from MerckEngage.

 

Being Tired All the Time

Advice about always being tired.

Last year, we looked at how to Increase Your Energy When You’re Too Tired to Workout. Now, we examine being tired all the time. This is something that I regularly face. How about you?

As Ana Lopez writes for Sharecare:

“Do you often feel exhausted with more than your run-of-the-mill fatigue? Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, may be to blame. We talked to endocrinologist Parveen K Verma, DO, FACE, of Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, New Jersey, to learn more about hypothyroidism and how it’s treated.” 

What is hypothyroidism?  Dr. Verma: “It is a problem with the thyroid gland, a gland in the base of your neck that controls metabolism. It can be caused by an infection and may be a transient problem … that gets better without treatment. It may also be the result of an autoimmune disease,  where the thyroid doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone.”

What are symptoms of hypothyroidism? Dr. Verma: “Typical symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, decreased energy, depression, dry skin and hair,  and constipation. A lot of people just feel like everything has closed down. For women, they may have fertility issues or abnormal menstrual cycles.”

When should I see my healthcare provider? Dr. Verma: “If common things that cause fatigue (not getting enough sleep, nutritional issues, multitasking) have been ruled out and you don’t feel better after a few weeks, then you should seek a medical evaluation. An initial workup may include a discussion about sleep habits, nutrition, work schedule, personal stressors, and blood work that looks for things like anemia or other metabolic problems, such as hypothyroidism.”

How is hypothyroidism treated? Dr. Verma: “The typical treatment is to use a form of thyroid hormone called levothyroxine. There are some other formulations that are considered more natural, such as Armour Thyroid. To decide which would be an appropriate choice for you, discuss your options with your primary care doctor or endocrinologist.”

To read a lot more, click the image.

https://www.sharecare.com/health/hypothyroidism/article/tired-all-the-time-is-that-normal
 

Health Care Coverage by Age Category

Uninsured rising. Young adults losing coverage.

For many of us, good medical care is essential. But, in fact, how much does the use of health care insurance vary by age category? The answer : A lot!!!

According to Katharina Buchholz, writing for Statista:

“The number of Americans who have no healthcare insurance increased again in 2018, the first time since 2010, which was the year the Affordable Care Act went into effect. From 2017 to 2018, the number of people with no health care plan rose most steeply among those 35 to 64 years old.” <a

According to the CDC, it is young adults in the age group of 19 to 34, however, who are most likely to be uninsured in the U.S. In 2018, 14.3 percent of 19-to-25-year-olds and 13.9 percent of 26-to-34-year-olds had no health insurance. After 2010, the share of uninsured Americans decreased in all age groups.  Recently, public healthcare enrollment has declined due to eliminating 90 percent of the ACA’s advertising budget in 2018″

Take a look at the Statista chart.

 
Health Care Coverage by Age Category