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Covid-19 and the Opioid Crisis

Covid-19 and the Opioid Crisis

For the last two years, it seems like all we hear about in medical news is covid, covid, covid. Rightfully so. The pandemic has changed everything, and it’s shown no signs of going away, although we are in a slowdown for now. Today, we’re taking a look at covid-19 and the opioid crisis.

With the covid-19 pandemic being a worldwide crisis, other medical epidemics have taken a backseat in the public interest. But covid-19 hasn’t made other health crises go away, it’s simply overshadowed it. The opioid crisis is one crisis that has not only continued but increased significantly since the pandemic started. 

How Covid-19 has Fueled the Opioid Epidemic

The year 2019 saw 70,630 opioid overdose deaths in the United States. As if that number isn’t frightening enough, the number of opioid overdose deaths after the pandemic hit US shores will send chills down your spine. An estimated 104,288 people died from opioid overdose by September 2021. That’s more than a 25 percent increase in just over a year and a half. Mississippi was predicted to suffer around 682 opioid deaths in 2021.

So what’s the reason behind the worsening opioid crisis? Unfortunately, we can’t point to just one cause for the crisis, which is considered an epidemic. Lost jobs and livelihood along with restricted access to mental healthcare during the pandemic are major factors for many people turning to opioids to cope. As depression and anxiety caused by the pandemic continue to increase, many patients are choosing to self-medicate instead of seeking professional help.

The battle between law enforcement agencies and drug cartels has also been impacted. The pandemic gave an unexpected edge to transnational criminal organizations, also known as cartels. These organizations have adapted to the pandemic faster than law enforcement agencies making access to illegal drugs easier.

What We Can Do to Fight the Opioid Crisis

The first step is to accept that addiction is a disease. The good news is, classifying addiction as a disease gives medical experts the ability to study the disease and develop a successful treatment. However, providers have experienced significant challenges in treating addiction patients in the midst of a pandemic.

Due to a high risk of covid-19 transmission between patients at in-patient facilities, providers have turned to outpatient treatment to help addicts. Telehealth and other resources are being used to keep in line with social distancing guidelines. But some patients are so severe that in-patient treatment is necessary. Unfortunately, labor shortages have also lowered the availability of in-patient services. 

Despite these challenges, addiction patients still have hope. Outpatient treatment can work if patients follow the treatment plan and advice given by their provider. Addiction treatment specialists are working harder than ever to help patients achieve sobriety. 

Mantachie Rural Health Care offers mental health and addiction services through our mental health specialists. If you or someone you know is battling addiction, reach out to us now to make an appointment. Request a visit at www.mantachieclinic.org/contact-us/ or call 662-282-4226. 

The Delta Covid-19 Variant in Mississippi

On the day this article was written, at least 12 children were in an intensive care unit. Seven of those children were on life support as a result of the delta covid-19 variant in Mississippi. 

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs shared this information on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, and encouraged Mississippi residents to take the new delta variant seriously. Dobbs stated that the delta variant is the most common type of covid-19 that’s been recently diagnosed in Mississippi. Most cases are occurring in non-vaccinated residents. He also reminded residents that we are currently seeing a surge in covid-19 cases and precautions should be established to help curb this uptick.

On the same day that Dr. Dobbs tweeted this new information, the Mississippi Department of Health reported more than 200 new cases of covid-19 and released new public health guidance. These recommendations include:

  • Asking those 65 and older and residents with underlying medical conditions, even those who have been vaccinated, to avoid large indoor gatherings. 
  • Asking all Mississippi residents aged 12 years or older to get vaccinated. 
  • Requesting unvaccinated residents to wear a mask during all public outings.

Why the Delta Variant is Rising in Mississippi

At this time, only 33.5% of the state has been fully vaccinated against covid-19. A large portion of those unvaccinated in Mississippi are children and the delta variant seems to have a strong transmission among younger people. 

Children aren’t the only ones at risk. Anyone unvaccinated, is 65 or older, or has an underlying medical condition is at a greater risk for contracting covid-19. These same groups are also at a greater risk for serious illness or death from the disease. 

What You Can Do to Help Stop the Spread

After enjoying several months of “freedom” from masks and social distancing, it’s time to dust off the mask and implement some social distancing rules again. We don’t expect the state to go into a shutdown but you can help stop the spread of this latest variant by practicing your own safety guidelines. Keep washing your hands often and avoid large crowds. Wear a mask if you aren’t vaccinated and consider getting inoculated soon. 

If you do develop covid-9 symptoms, isolate yourself right away and get a proper diagnosis from your provider. It is extremely important to get tested for covid-19 as soon as you notice symptoms. An early diagnosis and treatment can save your life and the lives of those around you. 

If you are experiencing covid-19 symptoms, contact Mantachie Rural Healthcare today at 662-282-4226 to get help. 

What is Social Pain and Why It’s More Common Than Ever

Social pain isn’t a term one hears often. But in the last year, the number of people suffering from social pain is greater than ever due to the effects of the pandemic. Social distancing, unexpected deaths from covid-19, canceled events and plans, and political unrest are just a few contributors to the increased number of people experiencing social pain. 

What is Social Pain?

Social pain refers to the painful emotions caused by situations involving other people. Emotions include but are not limited to feeling rejected, alone, ostracized, devalued, abandoned, disconnected, and grief. A study by the University of Sao Paulo suggests the pandemic has caused a substantial spike in social pain. Social pain is often a reaction to the loss of relationships by way of rejection, abandonment, moving away, death, etc. Social distancing and quarantining has increased the negative emotions associated with social pain due to the lack of contact with people whose relationships we value. 

The Benefit of Social Pain

Like physical pain, the function of social pain is to alert us to threats to our social well-being. In turn, these emotions will deter us from doing things that undermine our relationships. Social pain often leads us to make more effort to maintain intact relationships.

How to Cope with Social Pain

Social pain is not unmanageable. In fact, most steps taken to treat these negative emotions are done at home. The first step to managing social pain is to accept that what you are feeling is real. These feelings are completely normal but do not indicate something is wrong with you. However, these emotions may mean your social connections are not where you want them to be. 

Managing your thoughts is the next step. Learning to train your thoughts away from the source of your pain keeps you from wallowing in your feelings. Find an interesting distraction like a hobby, music, reading, working out, or even watching a compelling movie or television show. Practicing meditation is another way to train your mind to control your thoughts. 

Social pain responds to sensorial experiences which means doing something as simple as moving your body or resting can take your mind off your pain. Looking at beautiful and colorful things, listening to music, taking a warm bath or shower, and even grabbing a hug from a loved one or pet living in your home can ease feelings of social pain. 

Finding ways to connect with others is also essential. The more personal and direct the communication is, the better it works to treat social pain. Video chats and phone calls work best but email and texts are better than nothing at all. Reminiscing with old photos, letters, or messages as well as thinking about positive memories of your loved one can also take away negative feelings. 

Of course, if your social pain lasts longer than two weeks or more with no relief, seek help from your healthcare provider. Mantachie Rural Health Care provides both medical and mental health care and can help you get over the hump of social pain. Click here to request an appointment now. 

Could ‘COVID Tongue’ Be Latest Unexpected Symptom of Virus?

Keeping track of all the possible symptoms of COVID-19 is a full-time job. One British scientist claims at least 20% of his patients experience less common symptoms that aren’t officially recognized by the CDC. And we all know at least one person who experienced no symptoms at all. A Spanish study recently found 10% of patients with COVID also had some type of oral health problems such as mouth sores or ulcers. The term “COVID tongue” has been used to describe this uncommon issue, but whether or not it’s actually associated with the virus is debatable.

First, the Known COVID Symptoms

Let’s talk about what we know. The most commonly recognized symptoms of COVID-19 typically show up 2-14 days after exposure and include: 

• Fever or chills

• Cough

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

• Fatigue

• Muscle or body aches

• Headache

• New loss of taste or smell

• Sore throat

•Congestion or runny nose

•Nausea or vomiting

•Diarrhea

While this isn’t an exhaustive list, most symptomatic patients experience at least one of these problems, which usually prompts them to be tested for the virus. 

COVID Tongue: Is It Real?

Doctors don’t argue that mouth sores or a swollen, discolored tongue may be part of your struggle in a COVID-19 infection, but whether it’s a symptom of the virus remains to be seen. Most doctors agree you won’t typically experience only oral symptoms. 

Some medical providers speculate that oral symptoms could be caused by steroids and other medications prescribed to combat the virus which may lead the way for a thrush infection. The tongue also has a lot of ACE2 receptors, which are targeted by the COVID-19 virus in the lungs. So it’s possible the virus could be present in the mouth as well. Another theory is that COVID-19 activates another virus like the herpes simplex virus which results in mouth ulcers.

On the other hand, oral symptoms could be the result of allergies, irritants, another infection or something you ate.

How to Protect Your Oral Health

Whether you have COVID-19 or not, caring for your oral health is never the wrong answer. Brushing and flossing regularly as well as eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of water helps keep your mouth healthy whether we’re in a pandemic or not. It may also protect your mouth and teeth from unwanted damage should you find yourself with a COVID infection. And, as a reminder, you can continue to protect your overall health by not socializing in large groups, wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently and remaining socially distanced.

If you’re experiencing oral health problems without any other symptoms of COVID-19, make an appointment with our dental clinic. Any new mouth sores should be treated by your dentist. If you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, we can help you find the right diagnosis and create a treatment plan. Request an appointment online, or call our office at (662) 282-4226 . 

The Long-Term Effects of Covid-19

Most survivors of Covid-19 recover in a few weeks. An estimated 30% of patients, however, continue to experience side effects from Covid-19 long after the acute illness is gone. Even those with mild cases of the disease are susceptible to long-term effects, although older people and those with serious medical conditions are most likely to suffer extended symptoms. People with long-lasting effects of Covid-19 may refer to themselves as “long-haulers” or refer to their symptoms as “long covid”.

Common Long-Term Symptoms

The most common long-term symptoms of covid are fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, and joint or chest pain. Other less common symptoms reported by patients include:

  • Muscle pain or headache
  • Pounding or fast heartbeat
  • Problems with memory, concentration, and sleep
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Skin rash or hair loss

Other Long-Term Symptoms

In addition to these symptoms, Covid-19 can cause lasting damage to the lungs, heart, or brain. The virus can cause significant damage to the heart muscle resulting in an increased risk of heart failure or complications. Pneumonia associated with this virus can also damage the alveoli, tiny air sacs in the lungs that help us breathe, leading to breathing problems. Covid has also led to the development of strokes, seizures, and Guillain-Barre syndrome, a condition causing temporary paralysis. These serious conditions can even affect young people with the virus. 

Blood clots are another serious long-term complication of Covid-19. Experts believe small blood clots are the likely culprit of covid-related heart problems while large blood clots can damage the lungs, legs, liver, and kidneys. Covid-19 is also linked to weakened blood vessels that leak and develop problems for the liver and kidneys. 

Covid-19 is also linked to problems with mood and fatigue, including the development of chronic fatigue syndrome. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition in which fatigue symptoms worsen with physical activity or exercise and are not relieved with rest. Some patients also report depression and other mood problems following a bout of covid.

Although all these symptoms are serious, the World Health Organization (WHO) says patients experiencing long-covid are not contagious. 

As you can see, Covid-19 can lead to significant and even deadly long-term effects, and anyone can become susceptible to these lingering immune responses. The best ways to ensure you and your loved ones don’t suffer from the effects of covid is to continue practicing social distancing, wash or sanitize hands often, and wear a mask in public places. And now that a vaccine is available, we encourage you and your family to get immunized as soon as the vaccine is available to your age group. 

If you are experiencing symptoms related to Covid-19, contact your Mantachie Rural Health Care provider immediately to schedule an appointment and self-quarantine until your visit. If you are in need of an appointment, click here to contact us now. 


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