Are POTS Patients More Susceptible to the Coronavirus?
This is a transcript from a video posted to YouTube here: https://youtu.be/o47z0lIAqO0
Hello my friends. This is Dr. Diana Driscoll, Clinical Director at POTS Care. We wanted to reach out to you because so many people have asked me if POTS patients are more susceptible to coronavirus. Although there is much we don’t know about this virus and we’re still learning everyday, there’s some things that we can presume based on what we know about other viruses including the flu, SARS etc., and as we learn more, we can share more.
Currently, we know with other viruses we want to keep our nasal passages moist. So, when the nasal passage is dry or if there are cracks or fissures, viruses can more easily attach. So you want to keep your nasal passage moist, say, with a salt water spray — saline spray. There’s xylitol nose sprays also. Zinc lozenges have also been shown to make it a little bit harder for cold viruses to attach to mucous membranes, although this may or may not be effective for coronavirus– we just don’t know. Remember that too much zinc can cause an imbalance with copper, so it is recommended that you don’t have these zinc lozenges for longer than a week at a time.
Do know that there is no rule saying we can’t have more than one infection! You certainly don’t want to have to worry about a cold or even the flu with the fear that this could actually be coronavirus, right? Nor do you want to weaken your body with a cold or flu should there be any chance you need to fight a coronavirus later. So I would do everything you can to prevent most any upper respiratory infection or flu at this point. Now, asthmatics are prone to inflamed airways that can make it easier for viruses to attach, so if you are asthmatic, please stay on your medication and be sure you have a good supply of your medication at home.
Of course, you don’t want to smoke and just another reason not to smoke is the lung inflammation and mucous membrane inflammation that can result, making it easier to suffer with significant problems such as pneumonia if you get a viral infection.
If you require immunosuppression, any form of steroid, for example, you may be more prone to catching a viral infection such as a coronavirus. Although POTS patients are all a bit different — no two are alike, actually — we have some commonalities that make us end up with POTS. One commonality is either an immune system that is in overdrive OR — ironically — a decreased immune system. If your immune system is in overdrive (much like an autoimmune condition, for example) the last thing you want to do is increase your immune system! At POTS Care, we do a fair amount of blood work to explore immunity to help determine if a patient has an overactive or underactive immune system. If you don’t know how your immune system is affected, one way you can approach this is to control the oxidation which is a result of either an immune system that is in overdrive or one that is impaired.
Oxidation is a necessary consequence of inflammation. All inflammatory cells spit out a lot of chemicals — one of them is reactive oxygen species (ROS) and this is highly oxidative. Oxidation damages blood vessels, it damages tissue, ultimately it can change our brain chemistry — one toward higher glutamate which makes us much more prone to anxiety or panic, kind of an OCD presentation. So, to help control this we need antioxidants, and although blueberries and other antioxidant foods are really great, I personally found them as a patient to be completely inadequate to correct this level of oxidation.
So, the best way to correct this level of oxidation is by increasing our own glutathione, the master antioxidant, with one caveat. We do not absorb glutathione! When I was sick years ago and was in the hospital, the doctors in the hospital recognized I needed antioxidants which was really impressive at the time. They started me on Vitamin C, but it didn’t even touch it. I went home and I tried glutathione through the skin, I tried suppositories, I tried oral, liposomal, inhaled glutathione. NOTHING. It wasn’t until I went to N-acetylcysteine which is our body’s limiting factor to making our own glutathione (an amino acid) that I felt rather immediate relief. I ended up carrying that bottle around with me and I thought, “OK, we’ve got to do better than N-acetylcysteine (NAC) alone”. And, instead I came up with something called NAC MAXᵀᴹ which may be very helpful for you. What it is, is the necessary N-Acetyl cysteine but I added two ingredients that then recycle the glutathione that we make ourselves. There’s also just enough selenium there to help with one of the enzymes necessary in the production of glutathione. So, do check it out, it’s at VagusNerveSupport.com, it’s called NAC MAXᵀᴹ.
Some experts in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are sharing this information and I want to be sure you understand that there have been no studies to see if this is helpful in the corona virus infection per se. We do not know if NAC MAXᵀᴹ will help with the coronavirus. But we know it is very effective in some aspects of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (which overlaps with POTS). With these conditions, we want to be our healthiest when confronted with a chance of viral infections and this is where NAC MAXᵀᴹ comes in. Because word is spreading fast, I have been asked if there is enough NAC MAXᵀᴹ in stock. At this point, we are fully stocked, so if you need it, you can still find it at www.VagusNerve Support.com or on Amazon. Should there ever be a problem with Amazon deliveries, VagusNerveSupport.com should be able to get this to you.
Another mention is a good multivitamin. So many of us struggle with low nutrient levels, and it is not a good time to be deficient! So if this sounds like you, I would absolutely get a good multivitamin.
I think the precautions we’re pretty much all taking, we don’t want to forget those, are common sense of course, but social distancing is important and most of us who’ve been patients for a while are completely familiar with that. We kind of live in social distancing! What I would suggest to you, though, and I remember as a patient the only socialization I had was to get on the internet and I found that that oftentimes it was a fairly negative and toxic environment. I think for so many people, POTS and related conditions cause so much suffering! They are so frustrated because no one is really helping find the underlying problems and people became angry, justifiably. Personalities go out the door, so I would encourage you to limit your time on social media with sick people. Instead, try to stay on more positive sites if possible. If you can get outside that can be so helpful. If not, if you can even be near a window where you can see greenery or if you do not have that, have a plant inside, that is also helpful. While surrounded by so much fear and uncertainty, please take time to focus on what we have to be grateful for. It may be as simple as clean sheets or sunshine through the window — but there is always something!
And, if possible, don’t panic. We already can have so many fears about our own illness when going through an “invisible illness”. The last thing we need is fears of the coronavirus on top of it, right?! But if you really get depressed, or the panic is through the roof, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional. There are some psychologists now online where they will offer telemedicine and that might be helpful. I’d recommend staying aware, but try not to focus too closely on the news. Keep in touch with your local area and then exit it once in a while — very important.
Here at POTS Care we’re very aware of what’s going on and we’re trying to stay ahead of the game, so although we see 2-3 patients per week routinely, what we’ve done is spread them out so that no patient will run into another patient and in between patients we clean the office very thoroughly. At this point we are still seeing patients, but we are also able to offer telemedicine for some patients, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if we can help at www.POTSCare.com. And if not, we will see you when the world has moved past this, OK?
This will end someday, this is not forever. Until then, take care of each other, take care of yourselves and from all of us at POTS Care, we’re sending you a virtual hug. Bye bye.
Geiler, Janina, et al. “N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) inhibits virus replication and expression of pro-inflammatory molecules in A549 cells infected with highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza A virus.” Biochemical pharmacology 79.3 (2010): 413-420.²
De Flora, S., C. Grassi, and L. Carati. “Attenuation of influenza-like symptomatology and improvement of cell-mediated immunity with long-term N-acetylcysteine treatment.” European Respiratory Journal 10.7 (1997): 1535-1541.³
Tibullo, Daniele, et al. “Biochemical and clinical relevance of alpha lipoic acid: antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, molecular pathways and therapeutic potential.” Inflammation Research 66.11 (2017): 947-959.⁸
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