We are learning more about the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, almost every day. Once simply acknowledged as a major cause of the common cold, coronavirus is now the most feared illness on the globe due to potentially deadly complications. While many illnesses have severe effects in children, the novel coronavirus appears to practically skip them over entirely. Several studies on COVID-19 in children suggest that melatonin may be part of the answer to this interesting demographic spread.
Risk Factors for Deadly Complications
Although anyone can catch COVID-19, there are huge differences in the way various demographic groups handle the illness. Many of these are predictable. People who have chronic illnesses, especially a history of lung disease, appear to be especially at risk. In addition, having a condition that compromises your immune system puts you at higher risk.
Age appears to be an especially important risk factor when it comes to getting extremely ill or even dying from COVID-19. Children, including babies, most often appear to get a very mild form of this type of coronavirus, having mild cold symptoms or no symptoms at all.
As patients increase in age, the severity of the disease worsens. Elderly people have the highest chance of complications, including potentially deadly ones such as respiratory and heart failure. However, even young adults without any known risk factors are more likely to develop complications than a young child.
Questions About COVID-19 in Children
In most pandemics, infants and children are especially at risk. They have under-developed immune systems that are not as efficient at fighting off disease. In addition, their small size can work against them, leaving them at higher risk of dehydration and other complications. Last, children tend to be exposed to germs more often than adults. They are less vigilant about hand washing and can easily catch infectious illnesses at schools and during play.
These factors would appear to put children at higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19. However, children appear to be mostly spared from this novel illness, developing mild symptoms if any. Only a handful of children have developed any kind of illness from this disease.
This confusing situation is a subject of interest to many researchers studying the novel coronavirus. The interaction between melatonin and our bodies’ immune response to COVID-19 could be part of the reason children are being spared.
Melatonin and Novel Coronavirus
Melatonin may be a significant aid in fighting COVID-19, and could even become a possible future treatment. New research has found that melatonin reduces the activity of molecules called inflammasomes, which are integral in creating an immune condition known as a cytokine storm.
A cytokine storm is an immune overreaction that leads to full-body inflammation. It is the cause of the organ failure, particularly the respiratory failure, associated with coronavirus. Several studies have found that high levels of melatonin are associated with lower mortality from COVID-19.
This is significant because our melatonin levels decrease as we age. Although infants and children produce high levels of the sleep hormone, even young adults make significantly less. This is likely due to their rapidly growing bodies’ increased need for sleep. Decreasing melatonin levels affect not just our ability to sleep well as we age, but our health as a whole.
High levels of melatonin may be protecting our children from COVID-19. Could adults get the same benefit from a supplement or through some other means of raising melatonin levels? Although there is still a great deal of study to be done, keeping your levels of melatonin high just may give you a better chance of getting through this pandemic with your health and your life preserved.
Are You Protected?
Although our melatonin levels will naturally decline over our lifetimes, many people have chronically low levels due to lifestyle factors. Exposure to light at night, for example, can lead to lower melatonin production and associated issues with the circadian rhythm.
Even something as simple as working an occasional night shift or reading in the evening from a screen can reduce your melatonin levels enough to affect both your sleep and your risk of complications from the novel coronavirus.
However, there are many natural ways to keep melatonin levels high. Exposing yourself to bright natural light throughout the day followed by complete darkness before night appears to support high melatonin production. Keeping a regular sleep-wake cycle, going to bed and rising at the same time every day, also can increase melatonin levels. There are also natural melatonin supplements that can ensure that you are getting the ample amount of this hormone needed for good sleep and high immunity.
Decades of research have shown us that keeping a healthy circadian rhythm is crucial for your well-being throughout your life. The sleep hormone melatonin appears to be especially important in health. With new research showing that melatonin can affect your immune system, there has never been a better time to get your circadian rhythm back on track.