We live in unprecedented times. Coronavirus has changed everything – our family, social and work lives have all been turned upside down. One area that, almost ironically, requires very careful consideration is healthcare. We are not talking about the treatment of Covid-19 here, but other healthcare, non-covid healthcare. What should you be doing, or not doing, in these times?
- Health screening (general screening). A mainstay of the preventive-healthcare strategy is the idea of having regular health screening. This typically looks at weight/BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and HIV status. This type of screening can be done at your family doctor, most pharmacies, workplace wellness days (if held), and at various clinics both private and state-run. These screening tests can detect important conditions that otherwise cause no symptoms (so if you do not test you will not know) but can be managed or treated to reduce risk. These are worthwhile. We recommend still having these screening tests, and we suggest that most adults have these done each year, even in Covid times.
- Health checks (specific tests). Your doctor may have recommended certain specific health checks, for you. These are often cancer-tests, gynae-checks for women, prostate checks for men, heart-disease follow-ups, etc. Typically, these are matched to your own medical history and risk profile. As such these are vital tests that you really should not skip. You might delay these by a few weeks or months (take advice please) but longer is probably not a good idea.
- Chronic care. If you have a chronic (long-term) medical condition you are probably taking medication for it and you probably need to see your doctor and or have certain tests done on a regular basis. Good examples are blood pressure and cholesterol and diabetes. The care of chronic conditions is all about preventing further illness and complications, so it is extremely worthwhile. Please always prioritise chronic care.
- Minor ailments. The common cold. Gastroenteritis. Small aches and pains. Itchy insect bites. These sorts of things are quite often self-limiting and we recover on our anyway, with or without medical care. These could be examples of things to manage ourselves during a pandemic. If you feel confident that your condition will or is getting better on its own, by all means stay at home and don’t see the doc. But if you become at all concerned (this is a time to trust common sense and your instincts about what is worrying), for any reason, please DO see your doctor as you normally would.
- Serious symptoms. Some symptoms are just, well, serious. Or at least potentially serious. Examples include chest pain, high fever, limb weakness, vision changes, difficulty breathing, signs of internal bleeding (vomiting or passing blood), uncontrollable anxiety, confusion or disorientation, dizziness, etc. Don’t worry too much about the specific items – you can mostly trust your common sense to know what’s serious – but just know that serious symptoms need urgent medical care regardless of pandemics.
Remote consultation. All of us are travelling less and we are all using the phone, tablet, computer more than ever before. This can also help with healthcare. Most doctors and clinics and hospitals are offering some form of remote care and this is certainly an avenue to pursue these days. Remote care cannot replace face-to-face physical healthcare all the time, but it can be helpful for some conditions, sometimes. Please use some common sense (e.g. some things have to be SEEN by your doctor) and if in doubt, ask your doctor whether a physical or a remote consultation is best.
Timing of wave. As the pandemic progresses, we are seeing a pattern of infection surges (waves) with part-relief between. It is understandable that we try to stay at home most during the peak waves. This is pretty sensible really and we support the idea of timing your various non-covid healthcare so that it is not at peak-covid-time if possible. IF POSSIBLE. Please take a balanced approach here, recognising that some risk is probably unavoidable (the days of zero covid risk are still a long way off).
NOTE: please understand that what we offer here is general advice that is generally suitable for most adults but may not be correct in every instance and or for every person. Please ask your own doctor for advice that is suitable for you and please feel free to make your own judgements and decisions (we just offer information and advice, and we respect the truth that the decisions are yours, not ours).
These are difficult times. Please do not make things worse by making mistakes around normal healthcare. Coronavirus is causing enough misery & suffering without us making things worse through understandable but ultimately unwise decisions. There is room for smart decision-making, but a realistic & balanced approach is important.