Unless you’ve been living on an island for the past few months, you’ve likely been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in one way or another. Perhaps you’ve begun working from home, or your favorite restaurant had to close down for some time. Very few people in the country have been completely unaffected by this pandemic.
The coronavirus has lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths across the globe, with a potential vaccine not being ready for at least several more months. In the meantime, people can only keep themselves safe from the virus with social distancing and good hygiene. However, new research is emerging that may link low testosterone to complications from the virus.
In our latest blog, we dive into the research to discover just what may be going on between low testosterone, your immune system, and the coronavirus.
COVID-19, like other viruses, begins by entering healthy cells and manipulating them into making copies of itself. The new coronavirus targets cells in your lungs in particular, diving deep to affect your breathing capacity and function. For some, this may lead to pneumonia, a type of infection that affects your ability to take in oxygen. For most, a cough, fever, mild shortness of breath, and fatigue are the most common symptoms. The vast majority of people who contract the virus have mild symptoms, but some people can have a harder time.
Once you’ve contracted this virus, your immune system will begin to spring into action. Your immune system is your body’s self-defense system, attacking harmful viruses and bacteria to keep your body functioning.
For most intact immune systems, the immune system works its magic within a few weeks, neutralizing the coronavirus. For over 80 percent of people who contract the virus, their immune system can take care of it. However, certain complications can arise for people who already have pre-existing conditions. Conditions that have some correlation to increased risk include diabetes and high blood pressure. Recently, studies have implied that testosterone may play a role as well.
When thinking about conditions that make coronavirus worse, most people likely wouldn’t believe that low testosterone is a factor worth considering. But in fact, some recent studies suggest that being low on this hormone can increase the risk of complications.
But how, you may ask. Well, it is connected to the way that testosterone interacts with your immune system. Testosterone helps regulate your immune response, helping it turn on and off when needed. Proper levels of testosterone help keep your immune system working the way it should, but low levels can weaken the control on the immune system.
For the coronavirus, low testosterone can induce something called a cytokine storm. Cytokines are a class of protein and peptide in the body that act as messengers for the immune system. When functioning properly, these cytokines will stop after the threat to the body is eliminated. In a cytokine storm, however, the cytokines will signal the immune system to target healthy cells and tissue. In effect, the body begins to harm itself, often more than the virus has.
Studies on coronavirus patients seem to confirm this. Many people who have had complications from the virus have suffered from these cytokine storms. As a result, otherwise healthy organs have been attacked and have even failed. Blood clots also tend to form, which may induce strokes, comas, and even death. Though it’s not often discussed, testosterone is a key component of your immune response.
As we’ve already covered, low testosterone can open up a whole host of issues when it comes to your immune system and COVID-19. But there are options for improving your testosterone levels and your overall health. In a previous blog, we discuss signs of low T and some natural ways to boost testosterone like good sleep and exercise.
There is also the option of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), which directly provides your body with much-needed testosterone. The key is to make the changes now before you encounter a virus like COVID-19.
For years, El Paso Men’s Clinic has provided quality, compassionate care for the men of El Paso. Now, more than ever, we are ready to help patients who want to maximize their health and stay protected during the pandemic. Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment!