Missing Your Doctor? It May Be Time for a Visit
During the pandemic, we've all spent less time with people in our lives, from family, friends and co-workers to flight attendants and the servers at our favorite restaurant. But one of the relationships that has suffered the most is the important doctor-patient one.
The trouble started in March 2020, when the country was mostly in lockdown due to the coronavirus. By June 2020, more than 40% of U.S. adults had avoided or delayed medical care, including routine checkups, immunizations, non-emergency procedures and cancer screenings. And many people still haven't found their way back to rescheduling important medical appointments.
Hospitals and physicians' offices canceled many early appointments, with the goal of saving providers' time and personal protective equipment for fighting the virus. Patients also canceled visits, citing reasons like not wanting to leave home, losing their job (and subsequently their health insurance) and being worried about catching the virus from another patient or a health care worker.
These concerns are all valid. But now COVID-19 isn't the only health threat we're facing. Putting off routine medical care is dangerous because it can lead to serious health issues that have not been diagnosed or treated.
So if you haven't been keeping up with routine doctor appointments and screenings lately, here are some good reasons to get them scheduled soon:
- Routine doesn't mean unimportant. Preventive visits like physicals, coupled with the screenings and blood tests your doctor might order, are helpful for catching health issues before they become more serious. Many types of cancer are treatable if caught early, so cancer screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies shouldn't be delayed too long. Because children develop at a faster rate than adults, their wellness visits are crucial and so is keeping them on a regular immunization schedule.
- Chronic conditions won't wait. People with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic conditions need to be seen regularly by their doctor in order to monitor symptoms and tweak medications and their overall treatment plan.
- Stress can affect your health, not just your mind. The stress of the pandemic, the stress of financial worries, the stress of not knowing what the future holds, the stress of medical concerns – these are all things that can cause irritability, depression, headaches, insomnia and more. Unchecked stress can also lead to serious health conditions. Some current and chronic issues – both physical and mental – may be alleviated by visiting your doctor or talking to a therapist and explaining how you feel.
- It's safer now. At the beginning of the pandemic, hospitals and doctors' offices were scrambling to enact safety measures as they tried to figure out the best ways to keep patients safe during their visit. A year later, the procedures are firmly set in place. If you're still worried about any risk, ask your doctor about a virtual visit. Telemedicine appointments are often a good alternative to seeing your doctor in person.
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