WHY YOU MAY REGRET LETTING VIRUS FEARS KEEP YOU AWAY FROM THE DOCTOR
Non-urgent medical appointments have been on hold for much of the pandemic. Over the past four months, patients and physicians have canceled routine checkups, postponed preventive screenings and put off elective surgeries to protect the health and safety of everyone involved.
But just because in-person visits took a break, that doesn't mean diseases did. Here are 3 health practices that experts say you might want to reconsider delaying.
- Cancer screenings
- Dental visits
STAY ON TOP OF VACCINES
There has been a sharp decline in childhood vaccinations during the pandemic, leaving many kids at risk for preventable deadly diseases. Adults, children and older adults need to make sure their vaccines are up to date. Getting a flu shot this fall will be more important than ever. Keeping everyone healthy and out of the hospital as much as possible helps to conserve potentially scarce resources that may be needed for COVID-19. Some vaccines can be administered at a pharmacy or a walk-in clinic. Check with your doctor to figure out the best time and setting to schedule your shots.
FOLLOW UP CANCER SCREENINGS
Like most other preventive appointments, routine cancer screenings have come to a standstill since March. This means thousands of Americans will receive a delayed cancer diagnosis because of the pandemic. When it comes to rescheduling screenings, some people need to be seen sooner than others. If you have a family history of breast cancer or have had an abnormal mammogram in the past - do not put off your screening. The same goes for cervical and colon cancer screenings in higher-risk individuals.
Dental problems early on — like very small decay in a tooth — rarely have symptoms, so people often aren’t aware they have a problem until a dentist examines their teeth. The coronavirus pandemic kept most patients out of the dental chair the last several months. For those in the midst of treatment, that delay could become problematic.
People with braces are usually seen by their orthodontist every 5 to 6 weeks for adjustments; but missing appointments and leaving the braces unattended can cause the teeth to move in a bad way and sometimes cause damage in the root underneath.
With dental procedures, if you start and don’t finish it, it will create more of a problem. The longer time you wait, the more complexity you generate in the mouth. Where you once needed a simple filling, you might now need a root canal. If you needed a root canal, you could end up with an abscess or maybe lose the tooth altogether. You should still go to the dentist - but be careful.
Just remember: Everyone is different, and there is no single standard for which appointments are okay to delay, and which are not. Balance the risks and benefits and discuss them with your doctors. Your health and wellness are at stake.
DEALING WITH DISAPPOINTMENT FROM CANCELLED EVENTS
COVID-19 related disappointment over cancelled or postponed events or vacations can lead to lasting feelings of sadness and may lead to depression if not managed in a healthy way. Keep in mind that while you may not have control over every situation, you may be able to control how you respond. The four steps below can help you work through feelings of disappointment.
Step 1: Allow yourself permission to feel sad or disappointed. Often, we are so quick to try to feel better, we rush through our negative emotions without processing them fully. Learning to process your sadness can help you become a stronger and more resilient person.
Step 2: Share with someone. Talking about your disappointment with a trusted friend or relative can help release some of your feelings. Since we are all in this together, they will likely be able to relate to how you are feeling. Also, your confidant may help you view your situation in a new light. If you are still unable to let go of your disappointment, consider speaking with a mental health counselor.
Step 3: Dig into your disappointment and take action. Take time to understand why you are disappointed. If you are feeling cheated because you didn’t get to see your daughter walk across the stage at her graduation, think about how she is feeling. Let her know how much you care about her and that you are also disappointed for her and yourself. Tell her how proud you are of her accomplishment and how much your entire family wanted to share in her achievement. Once both of you have identified why you are disappointed, the two of you can find other ways to celebrate and honor her and what you both value. For example, consider hosting a virtual graduation or putting together a surprise virtual graduation party. Taking action can help you and your daughter move past disappointment.
Step 4: See the bigger picture. While finding perspective can take time, it helps to look for the little wins that have developed from COVID-19. One example is that more people are working from home now and are not dealing with traffic, saving on gas, and perhaps most importantly they have more time. On a larger scale, with less cars on the road, smog has been reduced in large cities.
HMC HealthWorks provides comprehensive, whole-person programs tailored to support and treat all aspects of an individual’s wellbeing. HMC HealthWorks connects you with a multi-disciplinary team of providers along with invaluable resources to improve your physical and mental health so you can lead healthy and happy lives.