Doctor Visits Can Seem Risky

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As states relax stay-at-home orders, are you eager or fearful of step­ping off your property? One of the most frightening places to go can be anywhere suspected COVID-19 patients congregate. Are you pregnant? Is a root canal required? Do you have gastrointestinal distur­bance, unex­plain­ed headaches, eye disorders, or other medical conditions?

To accommodate this increase in volume, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, along with many state agencies, has issued directives that nonessential care be discontinued for a time, in the hopes that those resources and personnel can be redeployed to fight the spreading coronavirus. Does delaying treatment worsen a life-threatening or debilitating prognosis? If yes, the treatment is probably essential.

You may hesitate to visit the person who should make you feel well when it seems this carries the risk of contracting something worse. So what are other sick people doing? They are reading about their symptoms online. Some are ordering the same anatomy posters that hang within doctors’ offices. The wise ones are reaching out to professionals for treatment recommendations, then making educated decisions regarding proper care.

Telemedicine is available in some areas. Health plans may include email access to doctors. Generally, a nurse follows up with a respouse within a few days.

Who Is At Risk?

How To Visit Doctor During Coronavirus Outbreak

When scheduling a doctor’s appointment, share your age and any preexisting conditions that may put you at risk for coronavirus. Chances of COVID-19 infection exponentially increase between 60 and 80+ years of age. Other factors can put younger people at risk. Have you been in contact with someone who has COVID-19? Are you manifesting flulike symptoms? You can download COVID-19 symptom checker from the Apple App Store or visit a web page.

Do you have moderate to severe asthma, COPD, liver disease, diabetes, or hypertension? Are you taking immunosuppressive drugs as a result of lupus, cancer treatment, or organ transplant? Individuals who smoke tobacco or marijuana, and potentially those who vape electronic smoking devices, reduce their lung function by introducing particulate matter, toxins, and carcinogens into their lungs, which then increases susceptibility for respiratory illnesses. People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40) are also at risk.

Let’s be clear. If you are very sick, you should schedule an appointment with a physician or contact emergency services if necessary. Protocol in most medical facilities during the pandemic is to isolate potential and confirmed COVID-19 patients either at home or in the hospital. Hand sanitizer and disposable face masks might be available during your doctor visit. But it may be best to wear a mask when you leave the house. Scheduling visits allows doctors to treat high-risk patients, like elderly, in specific areas at special times. During the pandemic, stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary to leave so you can be A Bit More Healthy.

References
  1. A Better Way to Prioritize 'Essential' vs 'Elective' Care During COVID-19. medscape.com
  2. Many operating rooms are empty as patients wait in pain after surgeries cancelled. ctvnews.ca
  3. Symptoms of Coronavirus. cdc.gov
  4. Apple launches COVID–19 screening app and website. theverge.com
  5. People who are at higher risk for severe illness. cdc.gov
  6. COVID-19 and Diabetes. webmd.com
  7. Respiratory Risk Factors and COVID–19. no-smoke.org
Kevin Williams is a health advocate and writer of hundreds of articles for multiple websites, including: A Bit More Healthy, KevinMD, and Sue’s Nutrition Buzz.

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