It is easy to forget that other illnesses and diseases still exist and that COVID-19 is not the only threat we face. More and more reports are popping up in the media about individuals who already have preexisting conditions are not showing up for regular checkups or procedures due to the fear of contracting the deadly virus. Some individuals are hesitant to call an ambulance in an emergency because of the overwhelming fear. Sadly, this has led to fatalities and further health complications for some, which could in some cases be avoided.
It is completely understandable why many people are skipping out on their medical appointments, but it is important to know that clinics and hospitals are a safe space and the staff go above and beyond to ensure their safety and the safety of patients. If you do have any preexisting conditions or have fallen ill from something other than COVID-19, it is encouraged to keep your appointments and get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan from your doctor if you have developed unusual symptoms.
If you are not too sure what to do in an emergency or have a non-pandemic related health issue that needs a doctor’s attention, here are a few guidelines on how to deal with it swiftly and safely.
What Are The Regulations?
Depending on where you live, clinics, hospitals, and doctors’ rooms may have different follow up procedures and regulations to follow. Depending on how many infections there are in your area, some state officials have advised that doctors and other healthcare professionals should make careful decisions on whether or not to go ahead with elective surgeries and procedures that may either put you at more risk of contracting COVID-19 or is just not necessary at the moment to open up hospital beds and allow more time for nurses and other staff to focus on COVID-19 critical patients.
For example, cosmetic surgery or hysterectomy appointments may be completely off the table if they are not needed as a matter of life or death, but a surgery to remove a malignant tumor will still be performed provided that there are minimal risks.
If you already have an appointment scheduled, your doctor will contact you beforehand to ask questions about any symptoms you may be experiencing or if you have been in direct contact with someone who has tested positive. From there, your doctor will make strategic decisions and advise you whether or not you should cancel or keep the appointment.
Visiting Your GP
As we mentioned before, there is still an infinite number of viruses and bacteria that can cause other illnesses. The common cold, flu, gastroenteritis (stomach flu), food poisoning, allergies, anxiety disorders, and pink eye are all common illnesses that most adults are prone to that require antibiotics or other treatments to be prescribed by a doctor.
Putting these off and hesitating to visit your GP because of the pandemic can put you at even more risk of developing COVID-19 complications should you contract it anywhere else because your immune system is already exhausted and working around the clock to try to fight off any other infection you might have. You should rest assured that your doctor and the rest of the staff at the practice will do everything they can to ensure your safety and well being during this pandemic and you can also keep yourself safe by following the basic rules set forth by the CDC:
- Wear a cloth mask especially when your doctor is examining you.
- Stay 6 feet apart from the staff at the clinic and your doctor if he is not performing a physical exam on you.
- Sanitize your hands or wash them with soap for 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching any surfaces.
- Don’t touch your face.
In some cases, your doctor may even offer a telehealth appointment instead if your symptoms are a clear indication of an illness they suspect. Telehealth or also known as virtual consultations, has become a game-changer in this pandemic especially since you don’t have to leave your house at all to get the help you need.
What To Do In An Emergency
While we have seen a lot of media coverage about the overflowing hospital patients infected with the virus, hospitals have done an incredible job of separating COVID-19 patients from other emergency wards. In life, emergencies happen and if one arises please do not hesitate to call an ambulance or check yourself into a hospital because of the pandemic. Hospitals have put a plan in place to keep you safe.
You should seek medical assistance if:
- You have difficulty breathing.
- You have a wound that won’t stop bleeding.
- You are experiencing chest pains.
- You are confused, disorientated, or experiencing slurred speech.
- You have injured your eyes.
- You have experienced a seizure.
If You Suspect You Have COVID-19
We have all woken up at least once or twice in a panic that we may have the COVID-19 only to find out that it was all in our minds or that we just woke up with a sore throat thanks to all the snoring we did the night before. Fortunately for some, as the day wears on, we feel much better. However, for those who start to feel worse during the day, this is a sign to go home and stay home, especially if you are presenting symptoms related to COVID-19.
The regulations around viral testing differ from state to state but if you are feeling unwell it is best to call your doctor before doing anything else. The majority of people who contract COVID-19 experience mild symptoms and are able to recover at home without medical care.
If you are only experiencing mild symptoms and your doctor has not recommended any testing, it is important to stay home in isolation for two weeks, get plenty of rest and keep your immune system strong with fluids and healthy foods.
Call your healthcare provider immediately if you are experiencing the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing.
- Pain in the chest.
- Bluish lips or face due to lack of oxygen.
- Or any other symptoms that are causing pain and require medical assistance.
It is important to call your doctor before coming into the office if you have or may think you have COVID-19 to protect your doctor, their staff, and other patients from exposure.
Look After Your Mental Health
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health and should not be put on the back burner especially during a pandemic. Psychiatric admissions are on the rise in some regions due to the burden of the pandemic and financial strain. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or another mental disorder, it is important to take care of your mental wellbeing and continue with your treatment plan even if it means getting the pharmacy to deliver your medications to you or having an online session with your psychiatrist, doctor or psychologist.
If you are currently in isolation due to contracting the virus it is extremely vital to keep in contact with your family and loved ones. Reaching out to your loved ones can help with the loneliness even if it is just via text or video call. You need as much emotional support right now, even if you don’t feel like talking to anyone. It is also important to remember that every situation is temporary and someday there will be life after quarantine again.
Now that there are vaccines available to most people who would like to get them, more health issues have risen. Such as the connection between COVID-19 and menstrual cycles, COVID-19 and eye conditions, the link between COVID-19 and strokes and even coping with COVID-19 and vaccine guilt.