It is time to go back to the doctor
Dr. Steven Markowitz, MD, DrPH — Fri, Jun 25, 2021 @ 11:06 AM
Many people have reduced or entirely skipped out on seeing their doctor over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That is understandable, especially when COVID-19 disease rates were very high, and early on, when doctors’ offices and hospitals were not up to speed with proper protective gear or practices.
However, the pandemic is receding, at least for now, and hopefully for good, so getting back to your routine medical visits is both safe and necessary.
It is safe to go to your doctor’s office
All medical offices have safety protocols in place. If you received the COVID-19 vaccine, you can feel especially safe when going to public places such as a doctor’s office.
Even if you are not vaccinated, chances are high that most people in medical office waiting rooms will have been vaccinated, since, by the time you are reading this article, over half of all adults and more than 80 percent of people age 65 or over in the U.S. will be completely vaccinated.
Remember, healthcare workers were among the first to be vaccinated in the U.S., so most of the medical staff has likely been vaccinated.
Why visit the doctor?
Staying healthy at any age is not easy, but you can increase your chances greatly by doing two things: 1) Checking out symptoms early, and 2) Getting the tests that make early detection of diseases possible.
Consider this: High blood pressure is silent. If your blood pressure has risen or stayed high over the past year, you would not know it.
Checking it at your provider’s office will give you that information, which might calm health concerns or put you on the right track to improve your health through treatment.
You may not know if your diabetes is under control, unless you go to your provider who can do a simple urine or blood test and change your treatment, if needed. Maybe you have pre-diabetes (detectable by a simple blood test), and you can learn how to take steps now to avoid getting full-blown diabetes in the future.
Did you gain a few pounds during the pandemic?
Join the crowd.
Having your weight checked and hearing some encouragement (that is, instruction) from your doctor can help get you back on track. Losing weight is never easy, but increasing your activity level and working on easing pandemic-related stress should help.
Cancer rates dropped during the pandemic
Huh? Did the virus fight off cancer cells? We can only wish that was true.
What really happened is people stopped or delayed going to their doctors during the pandemic, even if they had early symptoms of cancer. Early cancer detection, before symptoms are present, was especially hurt by the pandemic, as people were not able to have a mammogram, colonoscopy or low dose chest CT scans used to detect early lung cancer.
The result was fewer cancers – especially lung, breast and colon cancer – were detected in 2020, making it seem as if cancer rates dropped, when what actually dropped was the detection of cancers, especially in the early stages.
These cancers will probably be diagnosed in 2021 or 2022 (when more people will return to the doctor), and most likely at later stages, when they are less treatable. This is yet another tragedy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you are late for any cancer screening, it is time to visit your doctor and follow through with the prescribed screening tests.
What a terrible shame it would be to miss a life-saving treatment because a cancer diagnosis was delayed by six or 12 months, and the cancer was identified at an advanced stage, not at an early treatable stage.