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Stress and Anxiety | Difference, Signs and Treatments

Last Update: June 8th, 2020    Author: Rachel Green and Wendy Rhodes


Stress and anxiety are a natural part of life. This is how our body responds as part of the fight-or-flight response to a perceived harmful event, threat or danger.

However, a staggering 40 million Americans report that they struggle with feelings of anxiety on a regular basis. Factors such as relationships, finances, work, safety, and the political climate contribute to feelings of anxiety among Americans.

These statistics have some professionals referring to this wave as an anxiety epidemic that transcends gender and socioeconomic barriers with a profound effect on Americans’ overall health.

Stress is even more common. One-third of Americans are living with extreme stress and nearly half of Americans (48 percent) believe that their stress has increased over the past five years (source).

Credibility is extremely important to us. See all research and references used in this article below.

What are Stress and Anxiety?

In a medical or biological context, stress is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.

There are various types, but in general, stresses can be categorized as external (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal (illness, or from a medical procedure).

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.

It is important to distinguish between the natural, normal and occasional feelings of anxiety and an anxiety disorder that needs medical attention.

How to Tell the Difference Between Stress and Anxiety?

Stress and anxiety share many of their symptoms, therefore it can be difficult to tell the difference between them.

There may be a difference between the cause and origin of the two as well. Stress tends to be a short term effect and happens in response to a recognized threat.

Anxiety on the other hand may linger and does not necessarily have an identifiable trigger.

Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety

Stress Symptoms

When someone is under threat, danger, or feels like being so, their body releases stress hormones. These cause the heart to beat faster, among other things. Breath rate and blood pressure increase. All for the purpose of alertness, readiness to deal with those dangers.

Let’s see a non-comprehensive list of common stress symptoms:

  • rapid heart rate
  • faster breathing
  • muscle tension
  • sweaty palms or feet
  • headache
  • difficulty swallowing
  • dizziness or fainting
  • nausea
  • irritability
  • sleeping problems
  • poor concentration
  • loss of sexual drive
  • loss of appetite
On top of these typical symptoms, more extreme or lengthy stressful periods may lead to, or may be in connection with several physical or emotional disorders, such as depression, obesity, anxiety, heart attacks, and others.

Anxiety Symptoms

Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:

  • nervousness
  • hyperventilation or rapid breathing
  • sense of danger or panic
  • poor concentration
  • irrational anger
  • restlessness
  • sweating
  • gastrointestinal problems, diarrhea or constipation
  • tenseness
  • tiredness
  • sleeping problems

Both stress and anxiety can cause mental or emotional symptoms in addition to physical ones.

Types of Stress and Anxiety

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there are two types of stress: acute and chronic.

Acute stress is short-term and more common.

Chronic stress develops over a long period and is more dangerous and harmful. Chronic stress makes it difficult for the body to return to normal, mostly due to the disturbed levels of stress hormones. A constant state of stress may lead to serious illnesses and contribute to everyday problems and can affect everyday life.

Anxiety, as mentioned earlier, is normal in certain situations and life events. When the duration or severity of anxiety goes beyond natural anxiety, it can reach the stage of a disorder, and be called anxiety disorder.

Several types of anxiety disorders exist, just to name a few:

  • generalized anxiety disorder
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • anxiety disorder due to a medical condition
  • agoraphobia (fear of places or situations)
  • panic disorder
  • separation anxiety disorder
  • social anxiety disorder

What Causes Stress and Anxiety?

Most people experience stress and anxiety on a regular basis. They come and go, usually around important life events.

People also react differently to situations. Some might be stressful for one, while not causing any effect to others. Even previous experiences can affect how people react to the same stress event.

The event or external stimulus causing stress is called a stressor.

Common causes of stress and anxiety:
  • work-related problems, starting a new job
  • illness or injury
  • family issues
  • death in the community or family
  • marriage, relationships
  • moving
  • commuting
  • crime
  • parenting
  • traumatic events

Treatment and Management of Stress and Anxiety

There are several ways people can treat and manage stress and anxiety.

Usually, doctors will not prescribe medications for coping with stress, unless they are treating an underlying illness, such as depression or an anxiety disorder (source).

Stress treatment typically includes some form of self-help, like meditation, relaxation techniques, change of habits or certain circumstances. For example, quitting a highly stressful job may and should not feel like a failure, but a promise for a better future.

Many Americans are looking for effective, natural ways to reduce stress and, thereby, improve their overall sense of well-being.


Talking about problems and worries, finding and naming the stressors can help. The partner can be a friend, a family member, a colleague, a coach or a professional.

Having a life coach or partner who can guide you through the difficulties in life may be an additional help fighting stress and anxiety.


Exercise is generally accepted as beneficial, especially when done regularly and in moderation.


Like sleep, a balanced diet can also help manage anxiety symptoms naturally. Foods rich in magnesium (leafy green vegetables), zinc, and probiotics have been shown to lower anxiety in adults.

Limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption is also helpful managing stress and anxiety.

Healthy eating combined with good sleep habits can have drastic results in combating anxiety.

Quality Sleep

People who get less than 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis are more likely to suffer from stress and anxiety, among various other health issues. There are many ways of promoting good sleep, starting with losing bad practices before going to bed to using sleeping aids like sensory or weighted products.

Weighted Blankets

The popularity of weighted blankets has soared over the past year with reports that they can help reduce the symptoms and effects of stress and anxiety by using the science of Deep Touch Pressure (DTP).

Deep Touch Pressure can be an effective way to naturally stabilize the nervous system. Since stress and anxiety are rooted in instability, DTP can be implemented through the use of weighted blankets, weighted vests, and compression clothing.

Before examining the different products available for DTP therapy, let’s take a look at what may cause anxiety levels to rise in the body and how DTP can help.

Managing Stress and Anxiety

Managing the source is often the most effective way of handling stress or anxiety. Removing the stressors from life is difficult or close to impossible sometimes.

Altering how someone views or handles a stressful event can have an impact on current and future stress levels.

Learning alternative ways of coping is also important. A counselor or psychotherapist can certainly help with techniques and therapies for further improvement in someone’s daily life.

Further Information about Stress Hormones

Cortisol and Stress

Cortisol is sometimes called “the stress hormone” which is secreted by the adrenal glands. While it performs many functions in the body, it also kicks production into high gear during stressful situations.

Experiencing prolonged stress can keep cortisol levels higher than they should be, which can damage tissue and cause weight gain, mood swings, and insomnia.

A healthy diet, exercise, and sleep are some of the natural ways to lower cortisol levels. Cortisol levels naturally lower themselves during sound sleep cycles.

However, because stress can cause insomnia (and because sleep is needed to reduce cortisol and stress) many people find themselves stuck in a vicious cycle of anxiety and insomnia.

This is where DTP comes in. Deep Touch Pressure can quiet the nervous system by lowering cortisol, relaxing muscles, and increasing circulation. All of these advantages promote a sense of calm and help individuals fall asleep.

Weighted blankets and vests can be a great way to naturally implement the tactile sensory technique of DTP to treat anxiety.

In the same way that a hug can comfort a scared child and swaddling can soothe a crying baby, weighted blankets, bests, compression clothing can also help adults naturally manage their stress and anxiety.


Not only can weighted blankets reduce cortisol production, they can also promote the production of serotonin. Dubbed “the happy hormone”, serotonin transmits messages between nerves and brings feelings of general well-being and happiness.

Serotonin also makes melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating the sleep/wake cycle.

When to Talk With a Doctor

Sometimes, chronic stress and anxiety require medical intervention. If stress or anxiety has triggered feelings of depression that persist or continue to get worse, always seek help from a medical professional. Clinical depression requires a medical diagnosis.

Weighted blankets and other DTP techniques can be used in conjunction with professional treatment, but not as a substitute for medical help when dealing with clinical depression.


There are multiple benefits that weighted stress or calming blankets can provide, both physically and emotionally. Lowering blood pressure and heart rate, increasing circulation, and improving sleep patterns can all help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.

While some severe cases of anxiety require medical intervention, natural methods can also help manage stress and anxiety.

Weighted blankets and Deep Touch Pressure are great ways to treat anxiety naturally. Consider the benefits of DTP and curl up under a weighted blanket for an anxiety-free night.

For more information on this subject, go to


12 Kids' Symptoms That You Should Never Ignore

By Kristyn Kusek Lewis 

December 11, 2014

The wait-and-see approach is fine for some kids' health problems ... But not these.

Is It Serious?


When you become a parent, you earn a medical merit badge of sorts. Whether you're sopping up a goopy nose or extracting a dangling-by-a-thread baby tooth, eventually few things faze you. But sometimes it's tough to tell what warrants a call to your doctor's office: Which temperature actually classifies as a "high fever"? What kind of tummy ache means your child has more than your average stomach bug? And when something truly frightening happens—say, your child suddenly breaks out in hives—should you call your pediatrician or head straight to the E.R.?

"Parents should always err on the side of caution and seek immediate medical care when they're worried about something," says Anita Chandra-Puri, M.D., a pediatrician at Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group, in Chicago, and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, to give you more specific guidelines to follow, we talked to top pediatricians about the 12 symptoms that always require medical attention.

7 Kids' Symptoms You Should Never Ignore

Symptom #1: High Fever


A fever that's 100.4F or higher in a baby younger than 3 months; higher than 101F in a baby 3 to 6 months; or higher than 103F in a child 6 months to 2 years

Pediatricians stress that when fever strikes, the number on the thermometer isn't as important as your child's disposition. The one big exception: infants under 3 months old, who need immediate medical care if fever rises to 100.4F. "If their fever is caused by a bacterial infection like a urinary-tract infection, it could quickly spread through the body," says pediatrician and Parents advisor Jennifer Shu, M.D., coauthor of Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality. "It's usually just a common virus causing the symptoms, but we have to check it out to be sure." It's important to call your doctor right away; if it's after office hours, be on the safe side and head straight to the E.R. In kids older than 2, fevers aren't urgent as long as your child appears to be well hydrated and acting normal. Call your pediatrician for guidance.

Symptom #2: Long-Lasting Fever


A fever that doesn't go down with treatment, or that lasts more than five days

If you've given your child a fever reducer like acetaminophen or ibuprofen and the number on the thermometer doesn't budge within four to six hours, call your pediatrician. This is a sign that the infection may be too strong for the body to fight off, and your doctor may want to do a thorough examination to determine the cause. A fever caused by a common virus like cold or flu typically goes away within five days. One that hangs on longer—even when it's low-grade (100.4?F)—may be caused by an infection like bacterial pneumonia, which requires antibiotic treatment, explains Alanna Levine, M.D., a pediatrician at Orangetown Pediatrics, in Tappan, New York.

Symptom #3: Fever With Headache


A fever that's accompanied by a stiff neck or headache or a rash that's either bruise-like or looks like tiny red dots

Call your doctor—these can be signs of meningitis and need immediate attention.

When to Worry: Fever

When is a spiking fever serious enough to call the doctor? Watch our video to learn how to soothe your baby.

Symptom #4: Circle-Shaped Rash


A rash that resembles a bull's-eye or consists of tiny red dots that don't disappear when you press the skin, or excessive bruising

A ring-shaped rash with a pale spot in the center can signify Lyme disease. Get help right away if you see pinpoint-size spots under the skin, which can signal many serious conditions. Any inexplicable, widespread bruising may be a sign of a possible blood disorder. In addition, a splotchy rash, often a little raised, may be a sign of an allergic reaction. If your child also has difficulty breathing or is agitated or lethargic, she should be checked immediately by a doctor.

Symptom #5: Unusual Mole

A mole that's new or changing

Keep tabs on your child's moles, especially any that she's had since birth, because those have a higher risk of becoming malignant, says Parents advisor Ari Brown, M.D., a pediatrician in Austin and author of Baby 411. Do a monthly skin check during bathtime. Alert your doctor if you notice a mole that's irregularly shaped, has ragged borders, is not all one color, or is raised. All of these are signs of a potential skin cancer.

Symptom #6: Sudden Stomach Pain


Stomach pain that's on the lower right side, or that's sudden and crampy and comes and goes

If your child has pain on the lower right side, ask him to jump up and down—if it's excruciating for him to do so, it can be a sign of appendicitis. Although the appendix is on the lower right side of the abdomen, the pain caused by appendicitis can start around the belly button and migrate to the right. "With a normal stomach virus, there's typically fever, then vomiting, then stomachache and diarrhea," says Dr. Brown. "With appendicitis, it's sometimes diarrhea, then abdominal pain, then vomiting, then pain, then fever." If you notice these symptoms, call your doctor—appendicitis progresses quickly and it's most effectively treated when caught early.

If your child is under age 4 and has stomach pain that causes him to double over one minute and be fine the next, it could be a sign of intussusception, a serious disorder usually affecting young kids where one part of the intestine slides into the other. The pain shows up in 20- to 60-minute increments and can be accompanied by vomiting, fever, blood in the stool, or bowel movements that have a telltale "currant jelly" appearance. "Call your doctor if your child only has severe pain," says Dr. Levine. "If there's crampiness plus signs in the stool, head straight to the hospital."

Symptom #7: Headache With Vomiting


A headache that occurs in the early morning or wakes her up in the middle of the night, or that's accompanied by vomiting

These could be signs of a migraine. Your doctor can determine the appropriate treatment. Migraines in kids are not dangerous, and tend to run in families. However, morning and middle-of-the-night headaches can also be a signal of something more serious, and that's why you want to see a doctor right away.

Symptom #8: Decreased Urination


Dry mouth and lips, decreased urination, a flat fontanelle (in an infant), dry skin or skin that stays bunched when you pinch it, or excessive vomiting or diarrhea

These signs are all associated with dehydration and need to be treated fast because dehydration can lead to shock. Call 911 or get to the hospital if you think your child is nearing this stage. Otherwise, call your doc and try to get more fluid into your child.

Symptom #9: Blue Lips


Blueness or discoloration around the mouth; labored breathing where you can see your child sucking in his chest and abdomen; or panting, grunting, or a whistling sound when breathing

"Breathing problems are more worrisome when the sounds come from the chest and lungs, not the nose," says Dr. Shu. Critical breathing issues are often due to choking, an allergic reaction, an asthma attack (which can occur in kids as young as a few months old), pneumonia, whooping cough, or croup. Seek help right away or call 911. If it's not obvious that your child is having serious trouble, check his respiratory rate. Count each breath taken in for 30 seconds and then multiply by two. A normal rate is less than 60 for newborns; less than 40 for babies under 1 year; less than 30 for 1- to 3-year-olds; and less than 24 for 4- to 10-year-olds.

Symptom #10: Swollen Face


Swollen tongue, lips, or eyes, especially when accompanied by vomiting or itchiness

These often signal a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Symptoms may include swelling, breathing problems, and severe hives and need immediate attention. Call 911 and, if possible, give your child a shot from an EpiPen or a dose of an antihistamine like Benadryl in the meantime. For less severe reactions, call your doctor and ask about giving an antihistamine to quell symptoms.

What Do Hives Look Like on a Baby?

Can you spot the symptoms of hives? See how to identify the telltale signs of an allergic reaction.

Symptom #11: Vomiting After Falling


A fall when your child is less than 6 months old, or has obvious neurological changes like confusion or loss of consciousness, or that causes vomiting and/or any damage to the body, such as broken bones

These emergency situations must be addressed by a doctor—so head to the nearest medical facility. Falls are generally not problematic in kids older than 6 months if they only fall the distance of their height and don't land on anything hard or sharp.

Symptom #12: Excessive Bleeding


A cut that gapes open widely enough that you could stick a cotton swab in it, or that doesn't stop bleeding within a few minutes of applied pressure

These are signs that your child needs medical attention (and perhaps stitches, skin glue, a butterfly bandage, or staples). Depending on the severity of the injury, your next step should be to either call 911, go to the E.R., or call your pediatrician. You should also always see your doctor if an animal bites your child or if another child bites your child and breaks the skin.


When Is it Safe to Be Around Someone Who Has Recovered From COVID-19? Here's What Experts Say

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the US, the odds are increasing that you’ll know at least one person who's had the virus—and if they’re in your inner circle it raises a huge question: When is it safe to be around someone who has had COVID-19?

Read more →

Identifying Fake News in the Time of Corona – Ultimate Guide to Avoid Panic and Indifference

By Sharon Hurley Hall    
March 19, 2020

In the last three years, there’s been a rampant increase in reports of the use of digital marketing tools like social media to spread false information, commonly referred to as “fake news.” From the supposed deaths of many celebrities (like the Cher story below) to election tampering, it seems that this trend is – unfortunately – here to stay. 

This is a particularly dangerous trend in the era of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. It’s often difficult to know how dangerous the virus is, who’s most affected, and what steps people should take to deal with it. For example, one popular fake news story, seen by thousands of people, suggests colloidal silver as a cure. However, the US FDA and FTC have denounced this as a scam.

But the more people talk about fake news, the less clear it is what exactly fake news entails, and how it actually spreads.

In this guide, we delve into the fake news phenomenon. You’ll learn:

  • The definition and types of fake news
  • The history of fake news
  • How fake news spreads
  • The psychology of fake news
  • Fake news statistics
  • Fake news in different digital marketing genres
  • Where you’re likely to find fake news
  • How to recognize and report fake news

We’ll also look at the top fake news websites, and assess the future of fake news. 

Fake News in the Time of Corona

From fake cures to useless products, fake news about Covid-19 is spreading fast. Amazon has already deleted more than a million items deemed to be false advertising or price gouging. 

The problem is, it’s not just a case of misinformation, but literally a matter of life or death. For example, the “miracle mineral supplement” contains a type of bleach and has serious side effects. And drinking alcohol to slow the virus, as some did in Iran, only results in alcohol poisoning. 

To know how to handle the coronavirus, it’s more important than ever to be able to weed out reliable information (likely provided by your local health authority) from the fake stories that are rife on social media. 

Fake News Defined (and Key Terminology)

A good place to start is with the definition of fake news. However, it turns out that there are almost as many fake news definitions as fake news stories. (Just kidding, but you’ll see what I mean.) 

The OECD Forum Network defines fake news as:

“journalism or information that either deliberately or unintentionally misleads people and distorts reality by spreading false information, hoaxes, propaganda, or misrepresentation of facts” 

The Cambridge Dictionary’s fake news definition is:

“false stories that appear to be news, spread on the internet or using other media, usually created to influence political views or as a joke”

And Projekt Neptun defines fake news as:

“the distribution of false or questionable information that is either completely invented or sold as factually correct news” 

Common elements are that the information is presented as news, that it’s false, and that it’s often widely distributed via social media. 

Fake News Glossary

While fake news is a fairly common term these days, there are a bunch of other terms that refer to the same – or similar – issue. Here’s a breakdown of the most common offenders:

  • Disinformation– false information meant to deceive or mislead, sometimes spread via the media as a government tactic
  • Misinformation– false information, sometimes intended to mislead
  • Propaganda– biased information which promotes a particular viewpoint
  • Clickbait– content or headlines created to get attention and win clicks, but which may have little substance and may be misleading
  • Computational propaganda– the use of bots to manipulate public opinion via social networks
  • Post-truth– relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief
  • Filter bubble– referring to the situation where web users only get information that reinforce the views they already have
  • Deepfake– the use of AI technology to make or alter images or videos to show something that didn’t happen (an example is the Dali Lives exhibition by the Dali Museum in Florida, which brought the deceased artist back to life)

Types of Fake News

In addition to the terms above, Digital Marketing Philippines divides fake news into five categories:

  1. Satire or parody – this is intended to be humorous, but sometimes people share these stories as if they are real
  2. Misleading news used in the wrong context– this is where some facts are omitted, leading to a skewed view of what’s happened
  3. Sloppy reporting to achieve a certain agenda – similar to the above, and may result in clickbait headlines
  4. Misleading news based on popular narrative, not on facts– this can include urban myths
  5. Intentionally deceptive– true fake news as defined earlier

History and Rise of Fake News

Although people are talking about fake news a lot now, it turns out that fake news really isn’t all that new. The UC Santa Barbara Center for Information Technology and Society (CITS) says that fake news has been around for centuries

Once the printing press was developed in the mid-15th century, information could be widely dispersed. That meant any organization that could benefit from pushing a particular perspective or agenda could start spreading misinformation, disinformation, and fake news. 

Fast forward to the late 19th century, when technology became the catalyst for the next era of fake news. While people had been publishing newspapers for quite a while, the development of automatic typesetting and advances in communication technology made wider, faster circulation of information possible. But some of that information was definitely misleading. 

Tabloid Journalism Grabs the Headlines

During this time, some papers would publish fake information just to win the headlines and attract readers (a bit like clickbait today). This was known as yellow journalism. In fact, there was a famous rivalry between US publishers Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst in the 1890s, which is thought to have led the US into the Spanish-American War. 

While eventually, there was some backlash as people started wanting more reliable and dependable news stories, the headline-grabbing trend never fully went away. Tabloid journalism like that published by the National Enquirer in the US (shown below) and papers like the now-defunct News of the World in the UK have continued to be popular. 

At this point, most people recognized sensationalism when they saw it. But that was to change as further advances in technology began to play a role in the spread of fake news. 

Fake News in the 21st Century

Fake news is often associated with the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump. Indeed, he has often claimed to have invented the term.

In fact, it turns out that the person who invented and popularized the term “fake news” was Buzzfeed editor Craig Silverman. He started using the term in 2014 when he was running a research project on websites that spread unverified rumors but were designed to look like real news sites, and continued using it when he moved to Buzzfeed. 

Coverage of fake news became more frequent with the 2016 US election. Subsequent to that election, it’s come out that Russian bots may have had a hand in popularizing anti-Clinton news stories and, therefore, directly leading to the election of Donald Trump. 

Coverage of fake news became more frequent with the 2016 US election. Subsequent to that election, it’s come out that Russian bots may have had a hand in popularizing anti-Clinton news stories and, therefore, directly leading to the election of Donald Trump. 

But this is not a problem that is unique to the US There’s a fear that elections across the globe have fallen prey to the same phenomenon.

As the US election interference story began to evolve, search for the term “fake news” peaked in 2017.


It’s now in common use, with an updated definition added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2019. People are even making fake news generators to help people create their own false news stories. While they are intended to be a bit of fun, they have helped spread fake news. 

More recently, there’s been another twist. In addition to the accepted definitions of fake news, there’s a trend to dismiss any story that doesn’t match a person’s worldview as fake news, whether it’s factually true or not. As the BBC points out: 

“All sorts of things – misinformation, spin, conspiracy theories, mistakes, and reporting that people just don’t like – have been rolled into it.“ 

While there are some stories that cross the globe, there are also those for particular localities. In Switzerland, a rumor spread via WhatsApp that hospitals were overloaded and people with Covid-19 were in beds in the hospital hallways. 

In Africa, there are fake news stories about using Dettol or shaving your beard to fight the virus. In Italy, fake news about a lemon juice cure supposedly originating in China was shared more than 30,000 times. In India, a YouTube video about the origins of the virus (wrongfully claiming it originated from seafood) was viewed almost 5 million times. 

In a global information society, and with a global pandemic, people are searching for information wherever they can find it. This type of fake news has the potential to stop people from taking the action that’s actually proven to work, while they focus on untested and unproven information. 

Fake News: What’s Changed

We’ve seen the history of fake news and some of the terms that have been used to describe it over the centuries. But in the 21st century, fake news looks a little different from those early iterations. 

Here’s a look at some of the key differences today:

  • There are ideological interests in spreading fake news rather than simply tabloid journalists looking to sell papers. Several countries, including Russia, have been implicated in different misinformation campaigns.
  • This distortion of news is done with the deliberate intent to deceive.
  • It’s not always clear when a story is satire or fake because the way the stories are presented has evolved to fit seamlessly into social media spaces.
  • Social media aggregation(rather than printed or online publications) is a key mechanism for spreading fake news.
  • The spread of fake news is amplified by social media algorithms (more on that later) and social media fan and follower networks.

Fake news has become increasingly difficult to discern as reputable publications try to get more attention online, using tactics like clickbait headlines to make content more appealing and more likely to go viral.

This results in a situation where digital misinformation – yet another term for fake news – is a huge threat. As you’ll see, the latest fake news statistics show just how huge the problem has become. 

Fake News Statistics

The latest fake news statistics reveal two main problems. First, fake news spreads insanely quickly. And second, it’s not always easy to identify fake news. The proliferation of coronavirus fake news stories, which are quickly shared, is proof of this. According to JSTOR, around 62% of adults in the US get their news on social media sites. And many report that they believe fake news stories. 

A study cited on Mobile Marketing in early 2019 shows that almost one-third of adults with a social media account have seen something they consider to be fake news within the past week. That percentage rises to 51% over a three-month period. 

People read headlines and think they are getting reliable information. But although 97% of people think they can easily spot fake news stories, a recent study suggests that fake news can be more difficult to identify than people think. 

While fake news crosses political affiliations, Facebook is seen as the site where fake news is most prevalent. Some 70% of people said they had seen fake news on Facebook during the previous month. That compares with 54% on Twitter, 47% on YouTube, 43% on Reddit, and 40% on Instagram.

A big issue with fake news is its virality. Fake news can be more widely shared than real news on platforms like Facebook. And an MIT study shows that fake news spreads faster on Twitter than real news. On that platform, real news takes six times longer to spread than fake news. 

The same MIT study shows that humans are more likely to spread fake news than bots. But as we’ll see, machines also have a huge role in the spread of fake news. 

How Fake News Spreads

So how is it that fake news is able to spread so quickly? Senior Fellow at the George Washington University Center for Cyber & Homeland Security Kalev Leetaru believes that we have turned over information gate-keeping to machines and algorithms, trusting them blindly even though we shouldn’t.

Instead of looking for information ourselves, we accept what we are fed and that’s a big danger. As Leetaru points out: 

“These social media algorithms are optimized for virality and addictiveness, rather than truthfulness and evidentiary reporting. The more emotional, fact-free, and false a post is, the more likely it is to be pushed viral by these algorithms.” 

But there’s also another factor. Once the algorithms surface the stories to be shared, it only takes a few people to make them go viral. For example, during the 2016 US election, a Futurity study found that 0.1% of Twitter users (super sharers) are responsible for sharing the majority of fake news. And 1% of Twitter users (super consumers) were exposed to 80% of said fake news. Since the majority of us are all hyper-connected, this amplifies the reach of the stories. 

Research published on Science Advances shows that over-65-year-olds spread more fake news on Facebook than younger users. This holds true regardless of gender, ethnicity, income, education, or political affiliation. While the study did not say why this is the case, it suggested that lower digital literacy skills among older users and the effect of aging on memory could be factors in this trend. 

Where Fake News Comes From

Who are these people spreading fake news, and where does it come from? An IEEE report found that fake news generally originates from less popular or less known websites or media outlets, and tends to be spread more by unverified social media users. 

Other fake news may be carefully selected old news on topics known to be divisive, or something that’s true or real but is published in the wrong context. There’s always someone who hasn’t heard the news before, and who’s likely to spread it. 

Apart from the human spreaders of fake news, there are also the artificial originators of that news. A University of Oxford report paints a bleak picture of the fake news situation. For example, since 2017, organized social media manipulation of false information has more than doubled. 

Fake News in Politics

The interference in the 2016 US election is now a matter of record (recently reinforced by the testimony of foreign affairs expert Fiona Hill). But there’s another political case that demonstrates the pervasiveness of fake news. A dGen report on Brexit (the UK’s planned exit from the European Union) found that:

  • Fake news around the Brexit referendum was heavily influenced by bots. One study of ten million tweets, showed 13,493 bots appeared just before the referendum and then disappeared just after, suggesting the goal was to influence the vote.
  • The public was unable to get balanced information, and many failed to evaluate and cross-check the news they were getting.
  • Some journalists reported opinions instead of being objective in a bid to satisfy their audience.
  • There was bias in reporting on the EU; a later investigation found that 45% of BBC coverage was negative, compared to only 7% of stories that were positive.
  • Both social media and news coverage were biased toward the Leave position, and half of the activity of Leave-supporting Twitter users amplified tweets that supported that position.

Fake News and the Coronavirus

So, what are some of the rumors about the coronavirus that have now been debunked? Here are a few of the most persistent ones:

  • Anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen will increase the spread of Covid-19. This is false. However, because ibuprofen has side effects for people with certain conditions, many doctors now recommend paracetamol for treating coronavirus symptoms.
  • The “miracle mineral supplement” (MMS) mentioned earlier has been promoted as a coronavirus cure, but may actually cause vomiting and diarrhea because it contains chlorine dioxide.
  • Colloidal silver, other minerals, and certain types of teas, are being suggested as possible cures, though again, health authorities have said these are false.
  • There are multiple rumors about city shutdowns and quarantines. Most are false. Local authorities are the best source of reliable information on these.
  • Inhaling hot air from a hairdryer won’t help people with the coronavirus
  • Living in a hot climate, or exposure to cold, won’t stop the spread of the virus
  • Corona beer sales are down because of the similarity in the name. According to the company, US sales have actually increased.

The UK Government on Fake News

The issue has become so pressing that the UK government published a report into fake news. It concluded that:

  • The fake news epidemic was putting democracy at risk.
  • The laws that had been previously created for the newspaper age weren’t fit for the internet age.

The Psychology of Fake News

Another factor in the spread of fake news is human psychology. When our brains are overloaded, we have less time to make informed judgments. That can lead us to fall back on social proof. 

In other words, if enough other people think that a particular story is true, we may well believe the same rather than go through the trouble of fact-checking it for ourselves. In fact, 59% of people share social media messages and stories without even reading them. Since we rely on cues to decide what we should trust, someone with an agenda who knows how to craft a story the right way and spread it via social media bots can easily manipulate our reaction. 

In relation to fake news about the coronavirus, this plays into another aspect of human psychology says Stanford University professor Jeff Hancock. The global pandemic makes us uncertain, and we look for information to reduce that uncertainty. Information that makes us feel better or gives us a target to blame can help us to feel better. He says it’s one of the reasons for the extreme popularity of conspiracy theories. 

Fake News and Digital Marketing

Since social media is one of the main ways fake news spreads, it’s helpful to see how it affects other areas of digital marketing. While email marketing is not a key tactic for spreading fake news, some marketers try to use fake news to their advantage via content marketing. 

For example, the Ohio Pork Council created and promoted a story about a bacon shortage as a marketing ploy, and even set up a website to support the claims (it’s now offline). 

The problem with using fake news as a marketing tactic is that it can backfire. In the case of the Ohio Pork Council, it may have engineered a short-term boost in bacon sales, but it could also make people less likely to believe the Council the next time it posts. In other words, publishing fake news (and sharing it via email marketing) can erode trust in your brand. 

Does Fake News Hurt Your Brand?

As you can imagine, it’s not just a question of the erosion of trust when talking about the effect of fake news on your brand. Using fake news in your digital marketing results in poor quality and is a pretty lazy approach, says Smart Insights. 

But there’s also another good reason why it is something that you want to avoid. It turns out that if ads and promotions for your company are placed next to fake news stories, then your brand is tainted by association. People will be less likely to buy your products, visit your store, or say something positive about your brand. 

The best advice for any marketer is, instead of using fake news in content marketing, consider taking the opportunity to become known for trustworthy content. That’s because fake news has a big impact on how people see your brand. 

Fake News and Social Media: What the Public Thinks

While the previously cited UK government report focused largely on the use of Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, one of its key conclusions was that Facebook is not accountable enough for what is being perpetrated via its platform. In fact, external attempts to hold the social media site accountable have met with limited success. 

But accountability is exactly what social media users want. Research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing says that 85% of people believe that social media sites should be responsible for removing fake news. In addition, 79% think that social media platforms should monitor fake news. 

As fake news stories continue to surface, trust in social media content is beginning to decline. The Chartered Institute of Marketing survey showed that, compared with 2014, the number of people who said they trusted content on social media had almost halved. It now stands at 34%, which means two-thirds of people don’t trust social media content. And only 1% of those surveyed were confident that the content they see on social media is genuine.

Despite this growing distrust, it seems fake news content still gets shared. And there’s no incentive for those peddling fake news to stay honest. If they keep getting clicks and shares, they’ll keep churning out fake news. 

What Social Media Sites Are Doing About Fake News

With the finger of blame pointed squarely at Facebook and Twitter, the pressure is on for those sites to do something about the fake news epidemic.

In the past year, there have been a number of initiatives. For example, Facebook has made it easier for people to check the source of a news story. Here’s how it works. News stories have a little information button you can click: 

Facebook has also said that, ahead of the 2020 US election, the information will be fact-checked and clearly labeled to avoid the spread of fake news. Meanwhile, Twitter has announced that it will ban all political ads on the platform, something that Facebook has steadfastly refused to do. While it’s not a blanket ban on fake news, it should help address the issue, since so much fake news is about politics. And Instagram began a global rollout of improved fact-checking tools in December 2019. 

How Tech Companies are Handling Coronavirus Fake News

The world’s biggest social media companies may usually be deadline rivals, but they’ve come together to combat the coronavirus fake news epidemic. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Linkedin, Reddit, and YouTube issued a joint statement to say they are working to:

  • Fight misinformation and fraud related to Covid-19 information
  • Give authoritative content on the virus a more prominent position on their platforms
  • Coordinate the sharing of valid information with government and care agencies worldwide

Actions include:

  • Banning misleading advertising (Facebook)
  • Banning content aimed at fostering panic (Facebook)
  • Verifying accounts that give access to official UK NHS advice (Twitter and Facebook)

Top Fake News Websites

Who’s originating the fake news that is being shared? It turns out that fake news is a big business, with many getting paid to come up with stories pushing a perspective, and start them off on their social media journey. For example, a Guardian report suggests a public relations firm received a payment of $2,000 for promoting biased newspaper articles in support of one candidate running for Congress. 

A story in The Hindu suggests that Indian interests are managing 265 fake news sites in more than 65 countries. And CBS published a list of common fake news sites, including:

  • Infowars
  • Your News Wire
  • World News Report
  • com
  • com
  • net

There are dozens more, many collated in this list on Wikipedia. 

How to Combat Fake News

It’s a worrying trend that some people are unable to distinguish between real news and fake news. Here are some ways that you can avoid being among them. 

NPR suggests that it pays to be skeptical about what you view online. Just as you do when you’re preparing a research paper, look to see if the same information is coming from different sources

Importantly, these have to be sources that are known to be trustworthy, such as reliable news sources or unbiased government or educational websites. It’s even more important to do this due diligence on hot button topics or issues where some people could benefit from pushing a particular viewpoint or agenda. Check that the statements presented in an article are verifiable by looking for the sources. 

Since we can’t always trust that publications or organizations will verify the information for us, it is important to take matters into our own hands. Luckily, while apps and algorithms can help spread fake news, they can also help you to identify it and stop it in its tracks. It’s just a matter of training the algorithms to recognize it. 

One option for fact-checking is the Informable app from the News Literacy Project.

The app helps you figure out whether:

  • Stories are news or opinion
  • Stories are really ads
  • Claims in the stories are backed up

WhatsApp, another common source for spreading unverified information, has its own checklist of things to look out for. One key tip is to be aware that, even if something is shared multiple times, it doesn’t necessarily make it true. 

The social messaging app urges you to:

  • Pay attention to messages that have been forwarded so that you can tell whether they originated from the person that sent them to you
  • Check whether photos have been doctored
  • Look out for suspicious links
  • Help stop the spread of fake news by asking the person who sent information to you to verify it before you share it yourself

An app called Check by Meedan helps you fact check WhatsApp stories.

And there’s an experimental fake news detector where you can type in a story and immediately check its veracity. 


That’s because research suggests that there are subtle differences in language between verified information and a fake news story.

Meanwhile, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has launched WT Social, a paid news-focused social media site that aims to share only verified information.

The UK government has simplified spotting fake news into a five-point checklist, which it calls the SHARE checklist:

  1. Source – check if the source is trustworthy
  2. Headline– ask yourself if what follows the headline is believable
  3. Analyze– check the facts
  4. Retouched– see if the image has been manipulated
  5. Error – watch out for fake URLs, especially those that have been badly spelled

Finally, you can also check fake news on and other popular myth-busting sites. 

Where to Find Reliable News About the Coronavirus

If you’re looking for reliable information about the coronavirus, here are some useful resources:

  • The World Health Organization’s coronavirus updates page
  • The Centers for Disease Controlin the US
  • The NHSin the UK
  • Reputable news sources either within your country, or those that offer global live coverage like the BBCand CNN
  • Your country’s, city’s or town’s official health information
  • Global statistics on Covid-19 cases, like this page from Worldometer 

Next, we look at what you do if you find fake news on a particular platform. 

How to Report Fake News

As social media and web users, we all have a part to play in combating the spread of fake news. Don’t just recognize and ignore fake news; help to stop it by reporting it. Every fake news story we successfully get rid of makes the web a slightly more trustworthy place. 

Most social media sites have an easy way for you to report spam. Recently, many have expanded this functionality to allow social media users to report misleading information

Facebook has the functionality to let you report misleading accounts. For example, if you suspect your friend’s account has been cloned or hacked, you can report any information you believe to be false. This functionality works for flagging questionable material, too. 

Once you click on Find support or report posts, you can report fake news directly. There are several options for feedback on questionable content, including marking it as false news. 

Similarly, Twitter allows you to easily flag and report spam accounts. And in 2019 it launched a tool to help people report fake news directly during election campaigns. This adds “it’s misleading about voting” to the other reporting options. 

You can also report false information on Instagram. And in Google search results, you can use the feedback tool to report misleading information and attach a screenshot of it. 

The Future of Fake News

Is fake news here to stay? It seems like it. People are more informed about fake news than they were in the past, but that still doesn’t mean that they are able to spot it.

A report looking at fake news in the US in 2018 found that people saw less fake news that year than they had the year before. However, some people, such as hardcore partisans on both sides of a political battle, see quite a lot of it. 

Plus, if you’re on platforms like Twitter, where US President Donald Trump posts regularly, you’re even more likely to be subjected to fake news. Since taking office, he’s known to have made more than 15,000 misleading statements. And he’s also been shown to have made several false claims about the spread of coronavirus and responses to the pandemic in the US.

Although social media sites are taking steps to safeguard users against fake news, these measures seem woefully inadequate. A test by Nieman Lab showed that Facebook itself was only able to spot 30% of fake news stories. That suggests that 70% of fake news stories could still be seen and shared. 

Options for muting and blocking certain content are also inadequate. In an ideal world, social media sites would be so good at weeding out fake news that users would never see it at all. That doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon. 

In fact, fake news remains a huge cybersecurity issue and a threat to democracy. 

There is some hope. As Mark Schaefer points out, one of the big issues surrounding fake news is the lack of laws surrounding its publication. But one country has already started to deal with that issue. 

Singapore’s controversial Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulations Act (POFMA) came into effect in October 2019. Under the law, those found to be publishing false information that goes against the interests of the country could attract fines of up to $720,000 (USD) and jail terms of up to ten years. For this reason, it’s been criticized as a law that allows for the stifling of dissent. 

Within a month, that law had been applied for the first time to a Facebook post questioning whether investment firms were independent. As a result, a correction notice and a link to a government statement about the post were added to the original post. 

Other countries taking steps to fight fake news legally include France, Germany, China, and Kenya. In some cases, it’s because of upcoming elections; while in others, it seems like a case of being prepared. 

What Next for Fake News?

In the 21st century, we’re in the reputation era where being trustworthy is more important than ever before. This is especially important among younger millennials, who are already interested in companies’ ethics, are a major consumer segment, and who will soon be of voting age. And it’s essential when the spread of fake news affects our ability to get reliable information about the coronavirus pandemic. 

Self-regulation isn’t yet effective, so legal remedies such as the Singapore law may become the only option for fighting fake news. Another valid approach is education. Finland has tried this with some success, and is now ranked as the most media literate country in the world. 

Meanwhile, the European Union has an action plan to address online disinformation and the Law Library of Congress is collecting information on initiatives around the world to combat fake news. There’s also a sliver of hope from online activist group Avaaz, which actively fights online misinformation, and reports on fake news.

These may provide more strategies for fighting fake news in the long run. One thing’s for sure, though, with elections happening constantly around the world, and people invested in influencing voter opinion, the issue of fake news isn’t going away any time soon. 

To Recap

In this in-depth guide, you’ve learned:

  • How fake news is defined, and some of the other key terms that describe this kind of online falsehood
  • Different types of fake news, ranging from those intended as satire to those intended to deliberately deceive
  • The rise of fake news including a peak period around the 2016 US election and Brexit
  • How technology is used to create and spread fake news with some help from human sharers
  • The impact of fake news in digital marketing
  • How you can spot and report fake news and what social media sites are doing about it
  • What’s likely to happen with fake news in the near future

Sharon Hurley Hall

Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional writer and blogger. Her work has been published on Jilt, OptinMonster, CrazyEgg, GrowthLab, Unbounce, OnePageCRM, Search Engine People, and Mirasee. Sharon is certified in content marketing and email marketing. In her previous life, Sharon was also a journalist and university journalism lecturer.

Some Children Are Developing a Mysterious Blood Illness That May Be Related to Coronavirus

Some Children Are Developing a Mysterious Blood Illness That May Be Related to Coronavirus

Fifteen children have been hospitalized in New York City with the illness, with similar cases being reported in Europe.

By Julie Mazziotta 

May 05, 2020



A small number of children in the U.S. and Europe have been hospitalized with an unknown blood illness that may be related to the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

Doctors say that the mysterious, “multisystem inflammatory” illness they’re seeing in children is similar to two known conditions: toxic shock syndrome, a life-threatening bacterial infection, and Kawasaki disease, a very rare, but treatable, condition more common in babies and toddlers that causes inflammation in blood vessels.

Doctors in the U.K., Spain and Italy had previously reported seeing a few cases of the illness, and on Monday night, the New York City Department of Health put out a memo to hospitals warning that there have now been 15 identified cases in the city’s hospitals.

The 15 children in NYC are between the ages of 2 and 15 and have symptoms similar to toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease. All have had a fever, and most have had a rash, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea. Four of the children have tested positive for COVID-19, but the other 11 did not.

None of the children have died, but most needed blood pressure support. And while the majority did not have respiratory problems, five needed to be put on ventilators.

NYC health commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot asked doctors to look out for patients who may have this illness.

“Even though the relationship of this syndrome to Covid-19 is not yet defined, and not all of these cases have tested positive for Covid-19 by either DNA test or serology, the clinical nature of this virus is such that we are asking all providers to contact us immediately if they see patients who meet the criteria we’ve outlined,” she said in the memo.

“And to parents, if your child has symptoms like fever, rash, abdominal pain or vomiting, call your doctor right away,” she added.

COVID-19 does not appear to affect children in the same way that it is attacking adults, although a small number of children in the U.S. have died from the virus. This illness, while worrisome, also seems to be very rare.

New York state health commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker said that they are investigating the illness.

“So far, from what we understand, this is a rare complication in the pediatric population that they believe is related to Covid-19,” he told The New York Times. “We are following it very closely.”

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDCWHO, and local public health departmentsPEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

This article originally appeared on

Can Dogs Get Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Can Dogs Get Coronavirus (COVID-19)? What We Know So Far (April 14, 2020)

Dr. Libby Guise

Our furbabies are part of our family, and we worry about them. We wonder if we’re feeding them the right food and giving them enough attention. We’re anxious if we think they’re in pain, and we hope they have a good life. I get it. I feel concerned whenever my older pooch seems the least bit out of sorts.

In the midst of all the events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, what about our pups? Can dogs get Coronavirus? Read More ...

NOTE: Dr. Guise will update this article as new information becomes available, up until everything gets back to normal.

Did You Already Have Coronavirus Without Knowing It? Experts Explain Why That's Possible.

Did You Already Have Coronavirus Without Knowing It? Experts Explain Why That's Possible

One 28-year-old woman developed a fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath during a trip to New York City in February, but her doctor assumed it was the flu. Was it actually COVID-19, and what would the implications be?

By Jenna Birch 

Updated April 08, 2020

Toward the end of February, I traveled to New York City for a work trip. On day four or five, I started to feel ill. I did not have a thermometer, and so I did not think to take my temperature. But I was extremely tired, had a mild sore throat, developed a dry cough, and had trouble walking around the city due to shortness of breath.

Back home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a week later, I was waking up in the middle of the night with coughing fits. The cough was “unproductive,” a term that I have now learned means I was not able to expel mucus. The coughing spells would be overwhelming, often leaving me hoarse and feeling like I was going to throw up. My shortness of breath was growing more persistent, as well. Generally active and an avid walker, I could barely take my dog outside for a few minutes a day before needing to sit down.

Finally, after about two weeks, I went to see a doctor. “This just doesn’t feel like anything I’ve ever had,” I remember telling him. He listened to my lungs, which sounded more or less okay. He declared it “a virus,” insisting it might take two or three weeks to fully run its course. Coronavirus crossed my mind because of the shortness of breath, but very few people were talking about it at the time and it was only being reported on the West Coast. I thought to myself, If it was even possible, he’d test me, right? I did not realize how little testing was actually being done anywhere in the country at that time.


About one week after I got home from my trip on March 1, New York City’s first official diagnosis of COVID-19 was announced. Now that weeks have passed, I am recovered from that peculiar respiratory illness. And as I learned about the novel coronavirus, I have become more curious as to whether I may have contracted it in February.

Perhaps a lot of us are thinking about our most recent illnesses, and wondering the same thing as I am: was it a bad cold, the flu, or perhaps COVID-19? So I reached out to doctors who might be able to help me figure it out—and explain what it would mean if I did have the coronavirus.

Why anyone who was sick earlier this year might have had undiagnosed COVID-19

Scientists believe the virus emerged in China in December 2019. International travel continued throughout January, as cases popped up in other destinations—such as Australia, Bangkok, South Korea, France, the UK, Japan, and Russia. The US confirmed its first COVID-19 case on January 21. But the virus was already spreading other places, too.

By the time we recognized the start of the pandemic in the US, it’s very possible it was already here and well-established. Part of the problem in tracking the virus has been its vague symptom profile, which is relatively similar to symptoms you would have with the common cold or influenza, especially in the virus’s milder forms: dry cough, pressure of pain in the chest, shortness of breath, nausea, and diarrhea.

Pandemics start slow but pick up heat as community spread begins. According to Greg Schrank, MD, MPH, an associate hospital epidemiologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center and COVID-19 response co-incident commander, epidemiological studies and genetic analysis of the virus indicate COVID-19 was likely “circulating in these epicenter communities for weeks to months” before those locations began to experience a surge of cases.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility that this virus has been spreading in the United States since the very early part of the year, perhaps in early January or very late December, Jagdish Khubchandani, PhD, MPH, an associate chair and professor of health science at Ball State University in Indiana, tells Health. “Given the timelines and incubation period reported by studies, it could be possible that many Americans had this infection way back and we are just now getting to see the severe most cases,” he says.

When the virus is just beginning to spread in a community, with low numbers of infected people, “the time it takes for the number of cases to double” was observed to be a week or more, Dr. Schrank tells Health. “The doubling time is primarily determined by the incubation period along with the number of people that are actively infected and can spread the virus to others,” he says. “As the prevalence of infection increases in a community, this doubling time decreases, and the growth of the epidemic becomes exponential.”

Early on, the virus was likely making the rounds, but in relative stealth mode, misperceived as other common respiratory illnesses. Now that we have a critical mass of patients and improved testing access, we are starting to experience rapid doubling of the virus, which leads to exponential growth and a surge of infections. One problem of not testing early and widely is that we don’t currently know who’s been infected—which could provide important insight for individuals and the country at large.

The implications of knowing if you've been exposed

If you contract COVID-19 and then subsequently fight the virus off, the theory among many scientists is that you become immune to reinfection. Like similar coronaviruses, antibodies develop to help your body defeat the illness, and the body develops at least short-term immunity as those antibodies linger around after COVID-19 is gone.

This is why knowing who has immunity could be critical as we await a vaccine. “Many people will become infected,” William Schaffner, MD, a professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Tennessee, tells Health. “The question is, will we be able to determine who has been infected and who remains susceptible? We would have to test everyone to see if they have evidence in their bloodstream of proteins that would indicate they’ve been exposed.”

To look for those proteins, we need a screening method. “Laboratories are working to develop a blood test to look for antibodies which are a sign that a person was recently infected with COVID-19,” says Dr. Schrank. As of April 2, the FDA issued its first approval to Cellex, Inc. for a test that would allow medical professionals to look for antibodies. About 30 other companies have tests like this in the works, as well.

Of course, knowing if you were exposed and asymptomatic or had a mild form of COVID-19 and now in the clear, would relieve a lot of stress and wonder. But nationally, knowing who’s immune could have broader implications. “It might, if it were quick and easy, determine who needs to be vaccinated and who doesn’t,” says Dr. Schaffner. He also says it could “help communities decide how open they could be again.”

Germany has been working on widely testing for immunity, so they can get certain people back to work sooner rather than later. Some leaders in the UK are also pushing for “immunity passports,” which would clear some essential workers to get back to their jobs by testing to see if they’ve been exposed to the virus.

Knowing who has already been affected is helpful because antibodies can also be used to treat COVID-19. “The FDA just approved the use of antibodies from recovered patients for new cases as an emergency investigational new drug protocol,” says Khubchandani. On March 28, Houston Methodist in Texas became the first hospital in the country to offer a plasma transfusion for COVID-19; Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City also began offering them. The hope is that lending plasma with antibodies that developed in response to the novel coronavirus will help some patients overcome the disease easier.

What to do now

Dr. Schaffner senses that a lot of people will want to know if they’re immune. “We’d like to test first responders; many people of a certain age will want to know,” he says. Dr. Schaffner adds that it’s about making a test streamlined, so it can be made widely available.

If there’s a silver lining to this global pandemic, it’s that every ounce of the world’s scientific innovation is being thrown at the coronavirus right now. “We must remain optimistic, as all textbook and novel methods are being tried [to fight COVID-19],” says Khubchandani.

In the meantime, even if you think you may have been infected, it’s important to act like you’re supremely vulnerable—for your sake, and for others’ sakes—because there’s no way to know for sure. “Social distancing is absolutely key,” says Dr. Schaffner. “It is the thing we can do today to prevent the acquisition of infection because it’s transmitted within close contact. Mild symptoms or no symptoms, you can be contagious; anyone can just breathe out the virus, and if you are standing close, and could get infected.  That is why everyone has to maintain social distance, you can’t just focus on who has cold or fever.”

Personally, I’m hoping for that antibody test, so I can figure out my own level of immunity. But if I never get it and never learn if my illness earlier this year wasn't COVID-19, I’m more than okay practicing social distancing—to make myself and my community safer during this life-altering pandemic.

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDCWHO, and their local public health department as resources.

This article originally appeared on


9 Ways to Cope With Anxiety as a Family During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Isolation during COVID-19 can be worse for those suffering from anxiety. Experts offer ways families can work together to ease anxiety symptoms and get through quarantine together.

By Claire Gallam 

March 26, 2020

The constant news about the number of COVID-19 cases rising and its effects on the country is enough to worry anyone. But for those who suffer from some form of generalized anxiety disorder (about 40 million adults and more than 4 million children in America), this news can be more than just unsettling—especially during a quarantine—and cause their anxiety to spin out of control.

"COVID-19 is causing so much anxiety because the situation is unprecedented and uncertain," says Alexandra Friedmann Finkel, LCSW, a therapist and co-founder of Kind Minds Therapy in New York City. "People are craving answers, security, and comfort, and the media is not able to provide that as information is developing moment by moment."

So, what can you do if you or your loved one is suffering from anxiety during this time? Implementing these expert tips into your daily life during the quarantine may help ease your mind.


Focus on What You Can Control

There are things we can't control during the pandemic. That includes the virus happening, what the media is reporting, policies that the government is putting in place, and the financial market.

But there are things we can actually control, like washing our hands, coughing into our elbow or a tissue, social distancing when possible, engaging in positive coping strategies, and our reaction to the situation. Giving your energy to these things may be helpful in putting your mind at ease, says Finkel.

Take a Break from Social Media

There's nothing that can relieve instant stress faster than getting rid of the culprit immediately, says Finkel. If you're with your family at home, set up a "no phone hour" or "no social media Saturday." Things like this will help disconnect from the stressors and connect with loved ones instead.

Tara Egan, D.Ed., of Charlotte Parent Coaching, LLC, in Charlotte, North Carolina, agrees: "The best thing you can do is to encourage your friend or family member to step away from the internet. It may be tempting to use that as a primary modality to entertain themselves, but it can also lead to more feelings of uneasiness, insecurity, increased dread, and even doubt."

Start a New Hobby Together

Although the go-to may be to hop on the couch and binge a few shows on Netflix, TV is not necessarily the best way to help combat the symptoms of anxiety either. Instead, start a new hobby with your loved one, even if it's from afar due to social distancing. This helps take the mind off stress by giving it a new focus.

If you live with your loved ones, you could try things like knitting, crocheting, or maybe even yoga. If you don't live together, opt for a virtual book club or set up teatime every afternoon.

It can be reassuring to remember that even as we are all apart physically, we are all in this together.


Make a Schedule

When you're stuck at home, it can be so easy to fall into unhealthy routines. From not practicing proper hygiene to lying in bed longer or putting off chores, the simple act of giving up only adds to the stress and anxiety caused by a pandemic. Set a new schedule—and add some fun elements to it as well.

"While being at home with my family, I am grateful for the time we have for simple rituals like family dinners. We try to involve the entire family, so it feels like something new and fun," explains Anna Cabeca, D.O., triple board certified OB-GYN and author of The Hormone Fix.

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is a great way for people to reduce stress. That's why it's important to encourage yourself, your partner, or child to find a method of self-care that works and do that. "For some of my patients, we've found that music can be powerful self-care," says Finkel. "Create a COVID-19 playlist to do work to, take a walk to, or just listen without distraction."

Other forms of self-care that therapists recommend are reading a book, organizing or cleaning a messy space, taking a long bath with candles and soothing sounds, or simply taking a few moments to rest or meditate (you can use a meditation app like Insight Timer, Calm, or Headspace, and there are apps that are perfect for kids).

Something as simple as doing a face mask can be enough to relieve some anxiety, so find whatever is most relaxing.

Opt For At-Home Exercise

Research shows that exercise is one of the most powerful ways to reduce anxiety, thanks to the burst of endorphins you get after breaking a sweat. "Releasing endorphins is an effective way to fight stress and anxiety and to give your mind a break from everything," says Finkel.

Do an in-home workout with help from a favorite gym—both Orangetheory Fitness and Shred415 are offering members classes to take at home—or sign up for low-cost or free classes from sites like Daily Burn or even fitness videos on YouTube. Of course this is something you can also do with others while keeping a six-foot distance.

If you need fresh air, go for a run or walk (keep at least six feet away from anyone outside your household). If you're financially able to, it's also worth looking into companies like Peloton and Mirror, which are offering discounts to new buyers as well.

Create Happy Hours (Even Virtually)

Maintaining social networks is a great way to stay upbeat and feel a connection through the quarantine. You can do this by planning FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom dates, says Rachel Dubrow, LCSW, a therapist in Northfield, Illinois. "One good suggestion is to make contact with one friend and one family member daily if you live alone and at least one person daily if you live with others," says Dubrow. "It can be reassuring to remember that even as we are all apart physically, we are all in this together."

Also, create a fun happy hour at the end of each day. Whether it's by mixing up new cocktails to try together (either alcoholic or non-alcoholic) or simply setting some time aside to talk about things unrelated to COVID-19—like new books, movies they want to watch, or places they want to see—creating an impromptu party or social session can help you reconnect on a deeper level.

The best thing you can do is to encourage your friend or family member to step away from the internet.


Focus on Gratitude

Mentally detox by taking time to reflect and be thankful for the little things. For Hayley Parker, food blogger and writer at The Domestic Rebel, she found that using a gratitude journal was one of the best ways to cope with her anxiety. "I have started writing down five things I'm grateful for each day. Sometimes I find the usual, obvious things like 'that my family is safe' can be too broad, so I do little things like 'my coffee was delicious this morning' to help me redirect anxiety and stay present," says Parker. "The future is unknown and that is horrid for my anxiety, so staying present helps."

On that note, it's also critical to focus on compassion to help your loved ones suffering from anxiety. "When they're opening up, don't dismiss their fears with statements like, 'Oh, stop worrying. We'll be fine,'" says Dr. Egan. "Instead, make statements like, 'Yes, it is pretty stressful in our world right now. Let's make a plan of how we can follow the CDC's recommendations so we can stay safe and healthy.' Validate their emotions."

Try Teletherapy

If you, your partner, friend, or child is suffering on an even deeper level, encourage them to seek help immediately. In today's climate, therapists are making themselves available 24/7 using online mediums, FaceTime, and even apps like Talkspace and Sanvello to communicate with patients during the COVID-19 epidemic.

"Most therapists have converted to teletherapy, and insurers are consistently covering video sessions in light of ongoing social distancing," says Nina Kaiser, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and founder of Practice San Francisco. "This makes support accessible from home for anyone, anywhere—and professional support is more likely to be helpful to someone experiencing severe anxiety than anything that we as partners can say or do."

Tips to Steal from a Homeschool Mom While Schools are Closed for Coronavirus

I've homeschooled all three of my kids by choice for four years. Here is my advice on how to help your kids learn from home as their schools are shut down because of coronavirus.

By Sarah Bradley 

March 17, 2020

Long before COVID-19 forced school closures, I was sitting at my kitchen table with my school-aged kids, teaching them math, science, language arts, and social studies. I've homeschooled all three of my sons, aged 5 through 9, from preschool on up. My oldest is currently in third grade (although grade levels are usually pretty fluid in homeschool).

It's normal for us and we love it, but for millions of American families facing unexpected school closures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, homeschooling has been forced on them rather than chosen. Now, many parents are left scrambling to educate their kids at home when they didn't plan on it, don't really want to, and just plain don't know-how.

I'll be honest: Homeschooling is more complex than it may seem from the outside and it takes practice. You and your kids won't adapt to it right away, but that doesn't mean you're failing or doing it wrong. In order to happily homeschool, you'll have to look at learning through a different lens than what you're used to.

And online learning with tools like Google Classroom, which schools across the country are prepping for, is something older kids may be able to navigate easily. But for younger kids, it might be a bigger struggle to help them get their work done. But here's what you need to know about making a temporary home-school situation work for your family.


Forget what you think you know about homeschooling.

Most homeschooling families don't chain themselves to chairs for eight hours every day. Sure, the older your child is, the more time you'll spend on formal, sit-down instruction—but my third grader is the only one of my kids who spends part of his day reading from texts and answering questions (and it's truthfully a pretty small part of his day). Meanwhile, I ask my preschooler and first-grader for about 15 minutes of their attention before we move on to more hands-on learning activities.

There are no rules about how long homeschool should take, but I usually start with 20 to 30 minutes in kindergarten and then move up in 20 to 30 minutes increments for each grade level after that. If you're a temporary homeschooler or just starting out, I would cut those numbers in half and call it a day.

Don't try to recreate a school environment.

School at home is not the same as school at school. Don't waste time, energy, and sanity trying to make your homeschool function like a classroom—it just isn't necessary. Embrace the fact that your kids will be learning in entirely new ways for the time being.

It's OK to homeschool in your pajamas, or in the backyard if you have one, or in a blanket fort under the top bunk. It's OK to skip the fraction flashcards and get your kids baking in the kitchen with you. It's OK to spin a globe, land on a random country, and look up that country on YouTube. And it's definitely OK to go for a backyard bug scavenger hunt and call it science. Us full-time homeschoolers do these things all the time!

Follow a basic routine with built-in breaks.

Unless your child is especially averse to routine, it's smart to establish a basic flow for your day. I'm not an advocate of a strict homeschool schedule (though it absolutely works for some families), but my kids appreciate knowing generally what's coming next. That will likely be the case for kids who are used to their school schedule too.

First we free play, then we learn, then we practice, explore, build, create, whatever. Then we all take a break because we all need one—including me.

If you've ever bemoaned the lack of recess or playtime in your child's school, this is your chance to correct it, at least for right now. If you spend 30 minutes learning in earnest, give your kids twice as much time to regroup. Quiet reading, building with Legos, coloring, playing card games, and yes, even practicing skills with semi-educational apps on a tablet are all great ways to power down periodically without losing your groove.

Count quality, not quantity.

Here's a word problem for you: If Mom A spends 10 minutes working through math equations with her son and only completes five problems, and Mom B spends 45 minutes harassing her son to complete all 25 math equations on his own until they're both frustrated and crying, which child had a more meaningful learning experience?

Duh, it's Mom A's kid, because even though he accomplished less, he had Mom's full attention for 10 minutes. She connected with her child and gave him a chance to ask questions, correct mistakes, and feel good about his skills. It may be hard, but resist the temptation to tally up how much work your kids complete and focus instead on how many minutes you spent being fully present and attuned to them. That kind of 1:1 instruction, even for a short period of time, goes a lot further than long bouts of semi-distracted learning.

Follow your child's interests.

If you need an older child to work independently, it's OK to set aside her existing curriculum or unit studies and let her concentrate on what she wants to learn.

Is she obsessed with Billie Eilish (who, coincidentally, was also homeschooled)? Cool, that's a unit study. Have your daughter research Eilish online and write a short biography (social studies). Ask her to compare and contrast record sales between Eilish and other top female music artists like Madonna and Britney Spears (math). Tell her to study all the lyrics from Eilish's debut album and analyze them like poems, searching for connections and hidden meanings (language arts).

Basically, almost any topic of interest can be turned into a multidisciplinary unit if you think outside the box just a little. Your child will learn across a variety of subjects and be able to self-direct a lot of their own study. Slam dunk.

Lower the bar (a few times).

I have no doubt that you're a smart and capable parent if you're reading this. But even the most skilled homeschoolers struggle to find a rhythm each year and have to rethink, replan, and strategize when things aren't working.

Wherever your expectations are set right now, you should probably lower them (and then lower them again, once more, for good measure). If you're hitting that bar, you're doing fine. If you're surpassing it, pat yourself on the back. And if you're consistently missing it, don't throw in the towel yet—try to figure out where things are going wrong and self-correct if you can.

But mostly? Have fun. It's a scary world out there, and the single best thing you can do for your kids right now is making your home a safe, happy place.

5 Free Online Learning Programs for Kids to do at Home

5 Free Online Learning Programs for Kids to Do at Home

You don't need to create teacher-level lesson plans to make sure kids keep on learning at home. Here are a few free resources to take advantage of while creating a plan for keeping little ones learning outside of the classroom.

By Libby Ryan 

March 16, 2020


With schools and daycares closing due to safety concerns over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), parents all over the country need to find ways to keep kids busy for the length of a school day. While you shouldn't put pressure on yourself to create teacher-level lesson plans to implement while you're balancing a new work from home schedule, you can still make some of the day educational.

Here are five free online learning resources to take advantage of while creating a plan for keeping little ones learning outside of the classroom.

1. Scholastic Learn at Home

Scholastic Learn at Home is a 20-day program to keep kids entertained and learning through videos, stories, and problem-solving challenges. The website is divided by age and has enough activities for each group to provide parents with three hours of content each day. That means three hours each day of online reading and activity time, all themed around a special topic area for the day. Day one for first and second graders? Spiders. Get ready for some cute spider drawings for the fridge, folks!

2. Brainly

The Brainly app aims to connect parents with other parents to help out their students, aka a virtual study group. That means you can crowdsource other families for help on concepts that you might not remember from grade and high school. For an extra fee, parents can get help with specific homework problems from experts (useful for brushing up on geometry if you don't remember the Pythagorean theorem).


3. BrainPop

BrainPop has videos and quizzes on just about every school subject a kid could need—and even has videos on how to explain the virus to children of different ages. They're offering free classes for schools that have shut down because of the coronavirus, so if your school is out for a while, you can fill out a form on the company's website to get access.

4. Twinkl

Parents can take advantage of a free month on teacher-made website Twinkl, where there are educational games, homework help, and even lesson plans on different subjects. There are also guides to break down exactly what kids learn each year for parents who need a refresher on what knowledge comes when. Users can also rate and review the games so you can pick and choose which ones to set your child up with to practice their multiplication tables.

5. Sumdog

Sumdog offers a selection of free games with the aim to make math fun for kids. You can also get a family subscription if the kids really take to it for bonus games, plus access to ways to chart kids' learning progress.

Parents, don’t forget to breathe and remember, you don’t have to do everything perfectly in order to keep your kid learning. You're never going to mimic the exact format of a classroom with the kiddos at home, so give yourself some room to experiment with what works for the whole family if you're all housebound. P.S. Don’t forget recess exists for when you need a break—send those kids out into the yard to run off some of that energy!