Respiratory irritants are certainly not what we need right now. Here are some tips and strategies to help you cope!

Wildfires in the Time of COVID-19


Over the past few weeks, many of the patients who have come to my office have been suffering from respiratory irritation due to the wildfire smoke in the air. Some of my patients have been forced to flee their homes to get out of high-density smoke areas near the fires.  Symptoms vary and include the expected congestion and throat/ eye irritation, but also (perhaps surprisingly) include worsening of other conditions ranging from migraine to high blood pressure and even depression.

While we’re struggling with poor air quality and hazy air from distant (for now) wildfires, we’re also struggling with a respiratory pandemic, COVID-19. Coughing and sneezing is certainly not what one wants to be doing right now! There’s also the concern that wildfire smoke exposure could cause respiratory inflammation and damage that makes one more susceptible to respiratory illnesses (such as COVID-19) or could make concurrent infections worse or more challenging to treat.

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed that we have an overabundance of terrible news. While this situation is yet another cause for concern, it is not hopeless! Thankfully, there are some strategies you can implement even in the comfort of your home or office to help reduce your smoke exposure and improve your respiratory health.

With respiratory irritants such the toxins and particulate matter from fires, it is particularly important to work on reducing other irritants and protect your respiratory system. If you or a family member smoke, now is an excellent time to quit. Evaluate cleaning materials, household and personal fragrances, many of which contain harsh chemicals that are respiratory irritants. Keep your living and workspaces well-ventilated. Consider using an air filter fan (HEPA filter) to reduce the particulate and allergen content of your enclosed spaces.

While I am an avid outdoorsperson, now is a better time to plan outdoor adventures than to adventure outdoors. While waiting for the air to clear, spend some time indoors developing your go-to stretching and exercise routine. Gentle movement is ok! Sometimes, when our respiratory systems are under strain, it is best to incorporate slow, paced movement rather than the intense cardio you’d typically work towards. Set up a space in your house where the air is clear, and you have enough space to work-out. This is a good opportunity to catch up on those Tai Chi videos on YouTube or bodyweight exercise webinars to develop your home exercise routine.

While you’re working out and reducing household, it is also important to work on your internal environment. Having a balanced, varied diet with adequate nutrients is an important foundation to help your body better weather external irritants such as pollution, smoke, and illnesses. It is generally helpful to increase the amount of colorful vegetables in your diet. Colorful veggies contain antioxidants and other compounds that may promote healthy circulation, appropriate immune response and even stabilization of the cells that tend to respond to allergens and result in the unpleasant sniffling/congestion symptoms. This is also definitely the time to pay attention to staying adequately hydrated. A key part of maintaining hydration for most people is choosing water or herbal tea rather than processed sugary beverages and alcohol.

 

 

If your symptoms are disrupting your daily life or you’d like to talk more about in-office treatments such as glutathione or nutrient IV therapy, please call my office. I would be happy to set up a time for a complimentary phone consultation to discuss your concerns and treatment options.  The Overland Wellness approach is to use the most effective, least harmful, naturally rooted treatments that get you feeling better and able to enjoy your active life!

 

 

Unmasking Masks:

Top 5 Mask Tips

Strategies to help make this unexpected “accessory” work for you.

 

 

 

Mask Filtration Demystified


Many people have been wondering what the point of wearing a mask is if it is unable to filter out the tiny size of a virus. That is a good question. When a scientist or healthcare provider enters into an environment where they will come in close contact with known and dangerous pathogens, it is appropriate for them to take the highest levels of precautions (and filtration) so that they limit their exposure and don’t carry that pathogen out with them into the world.

In most settings, however, pathogens aren’t transmitted as the malicious free particles floating about that we imagine. For example, viral respiratory infections are commonly transmitted via droplet spread. I.e. the virus is spread through very small drops of things like saliva and snot. This is the reason why we always see recommendations to “cover your cough.” Besides the obvious “ick” factor, this is why sneezing with abandon is simply not done. Droplets are obviously spread with the loud “achoooo!” of the common cold, but also may be shared via less-obvious means such as talking and laughing.

Non-medical masks, such as the now popular DIY cloth masks can be helpful to reduce the droplets that we unintentionally share with the world. Rather than going out into our immediate environment unchecked, at least some of them are stopped by the fabric covering our nose and mouth. Also, when interacting with someone else, a number of their would-be shared droplets may be trapped on the outside of our protective mask… rather than going directly to our vulnerable mucous membranes of the nose and mouth.  

Mask-Wearing Tips and Tricks

So now you have a cloth mask and are wearing it in public settings, but are having some struggles. Here are some strategies to manage common problems you may encounter. 

01

Anxiety

Since breathing freely is so important to our survival, it is hardly surprising that wearing a mask that impedes breathing could provoke a feeling of panic. Additionally, many people experience a feeling of claustrophobia in confined spaces. Mask fit, even in non-medical cloth masks, is key for both efficacy and comfort. When a mask is made of material that is too stretchy or clingy, it can pull against your nose and mouth, resulting in a stifling sensation. If the mask was designed for someone with a different face shape, it could be bunching in unintended ways that hamper breathing. While adequate layering and materials can be important for filtration efficacy, there could be too may layers (or improper materials used) if it is also blocking your air supply. Consider a mask that is specifically shaped for the nose and chin, without pulling or bunching. If you have underlying respiratory conditions that make breathing through a mask difficult, please discuss this with your healthcare practitioner (we can help manage your symptoms and discuss options!). While wearing the mask could be one trigger of anxiety, there are many potential aggravating factors and triggers right now. If you are experiencing increased anxiety or panic, please reach out to your support systems and healthcare practitioners. We are here to help (and you are not struggling with this alone, even if things can feel pretty isolating right now). 

02

Fogging Glasses

If your mask is continually making your glasses fog, that can be an indicator that it is not sitting securely on your face. When your mask is not secure at the edges (i.e. over the bridge of your nose, across your cheeks and under your chin) your breath often escapes out the sides (and right into your glasses) rather than passing out and being filtered through the mask. Try wearing a mask that has a piece of metal at the bridge of the nose, so that you can adjust the fit to be more snug at your nose and cheeks. Also consider adjusting your glasses so that they don’t slip down onto your mask. (*It is best practice to not touch your face… or things on your face, such as your glasses. The less adjustment you need to make during the day, the better!)

03

Skin Irritation

When your mask fits securely, or if you’re an essential healthcare worker wearing a respirator or surgical mask, you may experience skin irritation and divots from wearing a mask for an extended period. Be sure to wash cloth masks after each use. You don’t want to put the same exhaled breath, sweat and contaminants on your face day after day. In the times of COVID-19, you should also consider all outward-facing surfaces of the mask as potentially contaminated, remove it via the ear straps, avoid touching the surfaces, and put it into the wash after use. Gently wash your face after removing masks. Use moisturizer and skin-protectants as needed before you put on your mask. If you’re experiencing a new rash or flare of a skin condition, such acne as eczema, talk to your healthcare practitioner. Stress (such as life during a pandemic) and skin irritants can both be aggravating factors for underlying conditions. 

04

Ear Pulling

Too-tight elastic straps can pull on your ears, resulting in discomfort, headaches, and looking like a distraught elf. Try a thinner elastic for your masks. Alternately, use a hair tie or string to bridge the elastic ends behind your head, and prevent them from pulling on your ears. Tie-on masks can be a good solution for some people. Whichever option you use, be sure it is something that you can put on without needing frequent adjustment. Part of avoiding touching your face (without first washing your hands) is avoiding touching and adjusting your mask. 

05

Awkwardness

Incorporating something new into your routine, especially something on your face, can feel awkward. The more you do it, the more routine and casual it feels. You’ll start to notice other people doing the same thing and even have the chance to appreciate some unique DIY masks. This is a public health effort, but it is also a statement of solidarity in “these uncertain times.” There’s a lot that we do not know right now. There’s a lot to be frustrated about. While trying situations reveal flaws and failings, they also reveal hope and ingenuity in the face of adversity. 

 

COVID-19 Updates


As this pandemic impacts the world and our local community, we want to reassure you that Overland Wellness is here for you.

The Washington State Department of health has local statistics denoted by counties as well as updated recommendations at their website

The CDC provides guidance and regularly updated information available at their website. 

Telemedicine

Using our messaging app, you can conveniently message Dr. Overland with after-visit questions. 

Automated Intake

Pre-screening questionnaires can be completed at your convenience before your appointment. 

  

Video Visits

Conveniently connect with Dr. Overland without having to leave your home. 

Schedule Now

Overland Wellness is expanding telemedicine virtual appointment availability.

You can now have a Naturopathic appointment or Acupuncture/ Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine consultation appointment from the comfort and security of your home.

As a patient of Overland Wellness, you have access to the highest quality vitamins and supplements. You can order them conveniently and securely through our online dispensary and have them shipped directly to you. 

Current DOH and CDC recommendations for hand washing and social-distancing are in tune with principles of holistic natural medicine. With newly emerging illnesses, such as COVID-19, information is scant and continually being updated. With the limited information at this time, it is best to approach unproven potential treatments with caution.

While current strategies to “flatten the curve” are appropriate, staying at home and social-distancing can feel very isolating. This is a challenging time for many people. This is also a time to cultivate connection in innovative ways, such as using technology. 

Dr. Overland would be happy to discuss any questions and concerns that you have during a telemedicine appointment. It is helpful to discuss information you may be getting from a variety of sources with a physician. Dr. Overland can provide insight into how such information may apply to your health and whether specific treatment considerations are appropriate for you.

Sometimes even the simple experience of talking through your health concerns with a trusted healthcare professional, such as Dr. Overland, can be helpful. 

Vitamins & Supplements

Targeted nutritional interventions to support your body’s response to stress and illnesses. 

Herbal Medicine

Dr. Overland is trained in both Western herbalism and Traditional Chinese Herbal medicine. Traditional herbal medicine is best with a naturopathic physician’s understanding of safety, quality and pharmacology. 

IV Therapy

IV Nutrient and Hydration therapy appointments can be scheduled for in your home or at Overland Wellness. IV Therapy infusions provide you with hydration and targeted IV nutrients to support healthy recovery from illness.

IV Therapy