It’s welcome news that many schools and businesses are finally reopening following COVID-19 shut-downs and it’s a good time for a reminder to also reschedule health screenings that may have been canceled or postponed in the early days of the pandemic. For those with underlying health conditions like heart disease or diabetes who may have let their eating and exercise habits slip or experienced high levels of stress and poor sleep, getting back on track with a doctor’s visit is critical. We joke about the “quarantine fifteen” but prolonged sedentary periods, eating comfort food, and drinking too much can take a serious toll on health.
According to a recent Health magazine report, the number of appointments for breast, cervical, and colon cancer screenings in March this year was 86 to 94 percent lower than the average monthly number between January 2017 and January 2020. If you missed a screening, don’t delay rescheduling it. Many cancers are more curable if detected early.
People who experience symptoms of heart attack or stroke should still seek emergency medical attention. There have been reported cases of people who avoided the hospital mistaking their cardiovascular disease symptoms for COVID-19. Untreated, a heart attack or stroke can do serious damage to the heart or brain.
If your health condition has deteriorated during the pandemic, it’s important to talk with your doctor. While some surgical procedures can be safely delayed, changes in your health should be taken into consideration, especially if symptoms have worsened affecting quality of life. Even if you have maintained a healthy diet and regular exercise habits during COVID-19 isolation, the ongoing stress and anxiety of an uncertain future can trigger elevated cortisol levels in the body contributing to health problems like high blood pressure, weight gain, and addiction. Talk with your doctor about strategies to manage stress; more health care practitioners including mental health professionals offer telehealth options for patients at home.
If you have any questions or concerns about the safety of visiting the hospital, clinic, or medical office for screenings, check-ups, or procedures, talk with your doctor or visit the facility’s website to learn more about what safety measures are in place to protect your health.