Evidence-based peer-reviewed scientific articles have long established the fact that respiratory viruses, including coronavirus, infect worried and otherwise stressed people more than their more accepting, grateful, and serene counterparts.
How did early scientific studies show that stress increases the “risk of acute infectious respiratory illness (Cohen, et al)”? Three hundred ninety four “healthy subjects were given nasal drops containing one of five respiratory viruses (rhinovirus type 2, 9, or 14, respiratory syncytial virus, or coronavirus type 229E) (Cohen).”
“Psychological stress was associated in a dose-response manner with an increased risk of acute infectious respiratory illness, and this risk was attributable to increased rates of infection rather than to an increased frequency of symptoms after infection (Cohen, et al).” This means that chronically worried and stressed study subjects that had inhaled virus-containing nose drops increased their rates of viral infection. However, sticking viruses directly into the noses of worried and stressed individuals did not increase their “frequency of symptoms after infection (Cohen, et al).”
What does this mean?
Clinical virus epidemiologists, medical school graduates that study virus behavior and not virus sequences, have known for decades that viruses enter a very large percentage of the nose, throat, and lungs of people under crowded conditions. Five basic things happen after viruses enter the nose, throat, and lungs of people:
- Absolutely nothing, the viruses do not infect them, the viruses do not trigger a major immune response, they have no symptoms, and we don’t know exactly how contagious they are to other more immune suppressed people such as smokers, vapers, overeaters, alcohol misusers, and other drug misusers.
- They get infected by the virus but have very minimal to no symptoms of respiratory-based viral infection.
- They get infected and their relatively weaker viral-crushing capabilities progress to moderate symptoms still not requiring hospitalization.
- They get infected and their relatively weaker viral-crushing capabilities progress to severe symptoms requiring hospitalization.
- They get infected and their relatively weaker viral-crushing capabilities progress to severe symptoms leading to death.
How will the Coronavirus Behave?
Time may tell how the percentages pan out for the coronavirus, however, we can estimate how Covid-19 is likely to behave based on its viral siblings and cousins as follows:
- Not infected after exposed with no symptoms, 30%
- Infected after exposed with no symptoms, 40%
- Infected with moderate symptoms not needing hospitalization 19%
- Infected with severe symptoms needing hospitalization, 10%
- Infected with severe symptoms and death, less than 1%
Regardless of estimates of respiratory-based (not HIV- or hepatitis-based) viral behavior in general and coronavirus behavior specifically, Cohen concluded that “viral-challenge studies suggest that psychological stress is a risk factor for upper respiratory infections with the strongest evidence provided by recent well-controlled, prospective viral-challenge trials (Cohen).”
Active substance misuse often evolves into an increasingly larger amount of worry, stress and anxiety. This increases ones risk of coronavirus infection, as it does with other infectious disease. The magnitude of infection varies based on each person’s lifestyle-type and corresponding wellness status.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance misuse, please reach out to us at (877)-RECOVERY or 877-732-6837. Our team of addiction specialists make themselves available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because We Care.