Nose, mouth and eyes are really the main “danger zones” through which coronavirus and other viruses can penetrate. But do not forget about the intestinal mucosa - after all, it is it that becomes almost the first line at which a protective reaction occurs. And its condition in many respects depends on whether the “enemy” will pass or be defeated.
The fact is that the intestinal mucosa is a rather delicate defense mechanism. First, intestinal mucus stops dangerous microorganisms. It contains special immunoglobulins A, which destroy pathogens, and gastroenteroprotective prostagladins, which protect the intestines and stomach.
-second, the intestinal microflora itself is considered an excellent protective barrier. After all, it is there that beneficial bacteria live that do not allow harmful microbes to enter.
Violation of the circuit
It is clear that for optimal protection of something or someone or you need a closed loop. That is, the mucous membrane must be impermeable. But this is only possible if you have no problems with the gastrointestinal tract.
Almost all inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract seem to “tear” the protective circuit, making the mucous membrane permeable. And, thereby, increasing the risk of harmful microorganisms entering the body. Of course, the highest permeability is observed in serious diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, when the mucous membrane swells, bleeds, becomes covered with erosion. But relatively “mild” gastritis or food allergies also significantly affect permeability.
It should be borne in mind that painkillers, antipyretic and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs spoil the mucosa very much. Alas, saving us from one, they harm the other. And the same ibuprofen, paracetamol or diclofenac contribute to the permeability of the mucosa. Moreover, even if they enter the body not in the form of tablets, but in suppositories or injections.
And even more vulnerable to coronavirus infection, the gastrointestinal mucosa is made by ACE-2 receptors, which are even more in the gastrointestinal tract than in airway mucosa. Namely, with the help of these receptors, the coronavirus penetrates into the epithelial cells.
Restore the mechanism
It is obvious that people with almost any gastrointestinal disease have more high risk of contracting a coronavirus infection. Firstly, they have increased permeability of the mucous-epithelial barrier, and secondly, the number of ACE-2 receptors is increased. To avoid this, it is necessary to restore the mucous membrane as quickly and as efficiently as possible so that it fully activates its protective functions. And for this it is necessary, first of all, to change the qualitative and quantitative qualities of the mucus that impedes the penetration of viruses to the epithelial cells and the introduction into them. Here, drugs that contain the active ingredient rebamipide are best suited. There are other drugs that perform a similar function, but rebamipide-based drugs not only positively affect the quantity and quality of mucus, but do not reduce the normal level of acidity of the stomach, but also act throughout the gastrointestinal tract. And for those who suffer from gastrointestinal diseases, these factors are extremely important.
What else can gastroenterological patients do to maximize the risk of coronavirus infection? And if this happens - to reduce the likelihood of a severe course of the disease?
- Firstly, to support immunity weakened by a chronic disease.
- Secondly, if possible, enrich the therapeutic diet with vitamins and microelements.
- Thirdly, to prevent the development of anemia, so as not to provoke respiratory failure.
- And, fourthly, carefully observe the doctor’s prescription when using cytostatics and glucocorticoids, which significantly reduce immune level.
Sergey Sergeevich Vyalov, candidate of medical sciences, gastroenterologist, hepatologist.