14 April 2020 Millhouse Update 5
Dear Valued Millhouse Patient
Today is Day 20 of the Covid-19 lockdown period. Are you beginning to experience lockdown fatigue? Frustrated by being confined to home, standing in supermarket lines for an extended period endeavouring to be patient, or perhaps beginning to experience financial uncertainty about what might lie ahead and how it will affect your family and friends.
Its also tough for our Pacific neighbours, and their New Zealand relatives, who in recent days have been decimated by Cyclone Harold.
Remember that Millhouse is your 'health care home' and if you are lonely or anxious, or have any distressing symptoms, please ring our nursing team or make a phone appointment with your doctor. All our doctors are available and we are continuing to ring our seniors to see how they are managing.
Eighty percent of those infected with Covid-19 will breeze through the illness, some of these may not even know they are infected, and others will have a few symptoms. However, for the elderly, and others suffering multiple maladies, the virus may become a life-threatening ordeal. Men are more susceptible than women, and it seems children are particularly resistant to infection. What is it about the immune system especially of children, and of women, that makes them more resistant to the illness? In the March newsletter I explored strategies to strength your immune system and I encourage you to read this again in the Newsletter Archives
Sleep and the Common Cold
In 2009 research
at the Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, demonstrated in healthy volunteers infected with the common cold virus, that those who slept fewer than seven hours a night developed cold symptoms three times as often than those who slept more than eight hours each night. They also found that individuals who had more wakeful nights had nearly six times the number of colds. Sleep deprivation results in a poorer immune function with reduced natural killer cells, increased levels proinflammatory proteins (cytokines) and a reduced antibody response.
As I write, no child under 9 years of age has died from Covid-19. The accompanying graph of age vs melatonin is the reverse of that of coronavirus deaths, which are low in the young and increase as with the elderly. The levels of melatonin are high in childhood and decrease as we journey through life to old age. This suggests that melatonin may provide protective action against Covid-19 in the young.
Melatonin has biological action
beyond its influence on the circadian rhythm which I discussed in the August newsletter. It is known to inhibit NLRP3 inflammasome, which promotes the proinflammatory cytokine storm that Covid-19 brings; the result of these can be acute lung injury, acute respiratory distress and even death. Remember that intravenous Vitamin C also inhibits the cytokine storm in acute Covid-19 disease.
Melatonin is an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative molecule and is a protective agent against viral and other pathogens. Melatonin has been shown in critical care patients to also reduce blood vessel permeability, lower anxiety, provide sedation and improve sleeping. Melatonin has a high safety profile and is beneficial to the heart and brain and can inhibit cancer.
Sleep is essential for good health and in having a strong immune system. If your sleep is disturbed, ask your doctor to prescribe melatonin. Start with 1-2mg to 1-2 hours before bedtime and 2-3 hours after last meal and increase the dose to higher levels if needed to assist sleep.
Yours in good health,
Dr Richard J Coleman