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  Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
 

SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Not much is known about this relatively new disease. Data available with the WHO indicate that 96 per cent of persons developing SARS recover spontaneously.

 
   The symptoms of SARS are almost similar to that of pneumonia or flu, high fever (minimum 100.4ºF or 38ºC), a dry cough and difficulty in breathing. There might be other symptoms such as headache, stiff or achy muscles, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, etc. If you find any of these symptoms, it is better to consult a medical practitioner at the earliest.

   SARS is a contagious disease. The victims of SARS are mostly hospital workers who came in close contact with sick people or family members of the patient. Doctors believe that it is spread by tiny droplets that get airborne when someone sneezes or coughs, or by contact with other body fluids such as blood. Antibiotics don't seem to treat SARS, which is usually the case with virus-caused diseases. One antiviral drug known as ribavirin may help, but doctors aren't sure yet.

    People over the age of 40 and those who have other medical problems, such as heart or liver disease, stand much chances to get SARS.

    Two previously unknown viruses of Coronavirus and Paramyxovirus families might be blamed for this disease. Paramyxoviruses cause many different diseases, including mumps, measles and respiratory ailments. Coronaviruses usually cause the common cold.

Incubation period:

   Between two and seven days after exposure, with most people getting symptoms in 3-5 days.

Mechanism:


   In a viral attack, viruses replicate themselves using the host's (or the victim's) DNA genetic replication system. It hampers the normal body function. Your immune system protects you against all kinds of evil elements, including viruses. But sometimes viruses produce chemicals that kill your immune cells. No antibiotics have been proved to be 100 per cent effective in treating viral infections so far.
    Additionally, this coronavirus is a new kind of virus, which belongs to a mutated strain, and our body cannot recognise it.

Prevention:

    A strong immune system is very essential to fight against any viral attack. It not only reduces the chances of getting SARS but also helps the patient recover fast. It minimizes the detrimental effects of the disease as well.
Here are a few tips to get a strong immune system:
  1. Antioxidant Nutraceuticals: These are chemicals found in foods, which have a key role in strengthening our immune system. Boost up your immune function by taking a cocktail of antioxidant supplements: Vitamin E, 1000 IU per day Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), 1000 milligrams (mg) daily. Instead of taking supplements, you can take 2 pieces of citrus fruit (e.g. orange) a day to get vitamin C Beta-carotene, not more than 10000 IU daily Selenium, 200 microgram daily Zinc, not more than 500 mg daily Lipoic Acid, 50 mg daily Glutathione, 50 mg daily.
  2. Let green tea be your daily beverage because it contains tremendous amount of antioxidant such as flavonoid and catechins. Eat more tomatoes, broccoli or fruit, and vegetables of red and dark green colour as they carry a lot of antioxidants, including carotenoids, lycopene and carotene.
  3. Avoid intense physical activities as they weaken your immune function. Instead of intense exercise, light or moderate workout helps if you have been training regularly.
  4. Make sure you get enough carbohydrate rich foods (rice, wheat, etc.) because carbohydrate is the primary food for immune cells.
  5. Reduce the stress level and make sure you get enough sleep. Avoid anxiety, depression and fatigue as they affect your body's stress hormones (e.g. catecholamine and glucocorticoids) and suppress your immune status.
Besides, wearing a safety mask, although not 100 per cent effective, certainly reduce the chances of infection.
   
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