By Kunal Saha, Director & Co-founder, Vandelay
Amidst the all-around panic and even paranoia triggered by the ongoing pandemic, stepping into the month of September has quietly heralded the grand festive season of this year. A season that all Indians fervently look forward to. Even as the devastating second wave apparently seems to have faded away, the specter of a potentially more damaging third wave has continued to hover in our minds. As such, a bewildering mix of apprehension, anticipation, and a sense of celebration has been in the air. While it’s all very well to be emotionally carried away by all this celebratory fervor, a modicum of moderation and caution must be exercised in the coming festive season. With the outdoor celebrations likely to remain somewhat subdued in the light of the need for observing Covid-appropriate behaviour, people must also not let their guards down in their home settings and indoor spaces.
So, with safety necessarily being the overarching watchword during upcoming celebrations, whether outdoor or indoors, there are five healthcare items that people must ensure they have in their homes in the coming weeks and months for any possible emergency.
An assortment of measurement devices:
First and foremost, a regular thermometer also preferably including a digital infrared one must remain an indispensable healthcare item in people’s homes. After all, a temperature check is one of the first measures that we unfailingly take to not only for Covid-19 but also for any other illnesses or disorders. Then particularly with respect to Covid-19 as also other respiratory conditions, a pulse oximeter to keep a track of our oxygen levels must also become an essential tool in our healthcare toolkit at home.
Second, it goes without saying that in the times of Covid, high-quality masks are our first line of defense against the dreaded virus. With their ability to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets from one person to another and thereby enable containment of the infection, a mask is a key prerequisite for our upcoming celebrations, even indoors. However, instead of settling for an ordinary mask that may not provide full protection, people must look for high-quality Spunbond Meltblown Spunbond or SMS masks which are usually four-layered and can keep the finest of particles at bay. Additionally, people must also be careful with regard to the ear loop of the mask which must be anti-allergic and adjustable and thereby providing maximum comfort. A mask washable for a reasonable number of times besides being free-size being suitable for all must also guide people’s choices.
A ready stockpile of nutraceuticals & supplements:
Third, we all know-how developing and strengthening our immune systems have been a key safeguard against the so-called ‘invasion’ of our bodies by the virus. Keeping this in mind, people must keep a ready repository of an assortment of nutraceuticals, dietary and food supplements, and multivitamins and minerals among others. These could range from vitamin D to vitamin C supplements to micronutrients in the form of chewable zinc tablets and omega 3 supplements. While lack of Vitamin D has been long associated with respiratory issues, vitamin C is critical for the health of white blood cells which help fight infections. Similarly, while Omega 3’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties and other benefits are fairly well known, zinc to has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant functions, critical to the fight against Covid-19. However, the dosage and quantity of these supplements must be decided in consultation with a practitioner.
Fourth, although experts have expressed doubt over the efficacy of steaming inhalations in curing the coronavirus, these inhalations have often been cited as a home remedy for common cold, stuffy nose, blocked air passages, and other similar respiratory conditions. So, despite not being useful in the treatment of Covid-19 in an absolute sense, the impact on nasal passages and respiratory airways in a Covid case requires that we keep these steaming devices ready at hand in our homes. At the very least, these would go some way in relieving congestion and blockage in the upper respiratory tract, which in turn could ward off compounding of respiratory woes in a Covid patient. The incoming winter bringing in with its common colds, flu, etc further makes it necessary that we have these steaming devices at home regardless of covid-19.
And finally, wising up by the experiences during the second wave when our hospitals had struggled maintaining uninterrupted supplies of medical oxygen, having oxygen concentrators at home would go a long way in bolstering our Covid-19 preparedness during the incoming festivities. Knowing full well how oxygen saturation can drop to dangerous levels on account of Covid-19, the presence of these devices can not only stabilize a patient in case of an emergency but can also serve as a ready source of life-saving oxygen within the confines of a home. Because they are self-sufficient units constantly turning out medical oxygen from the ambient air while filtering out nitrogen, they need not be replenished as is the case with oxygen cylinders at hospitals. However, people should know that these machines are useful only for moderate Covid cases and patients with oxygen saturation levels below 90 must require hospital admission. Importantly, they are also useful for other respiratory disorders such as COPD and asthma, all of which could be aggravated owing to excessive playfulness and physical activities during the celebrations.
So, instead of blindingly taking a plunge into the celebrations marking the incoming festivities, we must welcome them with caution and care. Keeping these five items at home would be the much-needed first step in that direction.