When Covid-19 became a global pandemic, a lot of medical appointments took a back seat as governments across the globe announced lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus. For months now, doctors and patients have been postponing preventive screenings, routine checkups, and elective surgeries to ensure that the people involved remain safe. 

But, even as in-person hospital visits during Covid-19 lockdowns were or are still suspended, diseases have not taken a break. As the pandemic continues to unfold, and countries announce the resumption of lockdowns, most patients wonder whether they should pay their doctors a visit. Ideally, the decision to see a doctor or not should be made on a case-by-case basis. Your doctor should be the one to help weigh the benefits and risks of making a hospital visit. 

Several factors would determine this. For instance, the situation in your area of residence: are Covid-19 cases in your community surging or declining? Do you have an underlying health condition that puts you at risk of developing severe Covid-19 disease? If your doctor finds significant risk in having you make an in-person visit to the hospital and your condition can be managed from home with their assistance, they may opt to maintain virtual appointments instead. 

But besides managing underlying conditions, there are other signs that might require you to visit the hospital during lockdown. These include the following: 

1. You Experience Heart Attack Or Stroke Symptoms 

The pandemic has had an impact on people’s lifestyles and made them more vulnerable to health conditions like a heart attack and stroke. Reduced physical exercise and consuming too much fast food that are easily accessible on drive-throughs have seen many people gaining more weight during the pandemic.

On the other hand, the Covid-19 pandemic has seen a significant reduction in the number of patients who seek screening for life-threatening conditions, such as a heart attack and stroke, which are directly linked to low physical activity and unhealthy eating. Patients who experience symptoms of these diseases should not delay screening or treatment. A small delay in seeking medical care could be the difference between life and death. 

You should not ignore symptoms like trouble speaking or walking, confusion, dizziness, lack of coordination, loss of balance, weakness or numbness in the arm, face or leg as these could mean that a stroke is setting in. On the other hand, symptoms like fatigue, tightness, an arching sensation, pressure, or squeezing in the chest that spreads to the jaw, neck or back, shortness of breath, sudden dizziness, lightheadedness or nausea, could mean you’re on the verge of suffering a heart attack. If you experience these signs during lockdown, you need to visit the hospital immediately for treatment. 

The reality is that the pandemic has not stopped strokes and heart attacks from happening. These conditions are still medical emergencies and the safest way to treat them is to get to the hospital as quickly as possible, even during the lockdown.

2. Your Vaccination is Due

Besides seeking treatment for emergency symptoms, vaccination is another major reason to visit the hospital during lockdown. During the Covid-19 pandemic, hospitals have recorded sharp declines in the number of children that have been vaccinated. This poses a serious risk on their lives as many can easily acquire deadly diseases that are preventable. Parents and guardians should adhere to their children’s vaccine schedules as well as their own even during the pandemic. 

Older adults must ensure they get the pneumococcal vaccine, flu vaccine, and the shingles vaccine. Each of this vaccine is administered in two doses over a period of six months. Those who already had their first shingles dose should visit the hospital for a second dose before six months have lapsed. Even with the lockdown, it is not advisable to wait until the seventh or eighth month to get the second shot. 

As a matter of fact, getting the flu vaccine is more critical now than it has been before. This is because maintaining a healthy, adult population that stays out of the hospital will go a long way in conserving the resources need to be directed towards fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

3. You Develop Symptoms that Need Emergency Care 

One of the effects that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the delivery of health services is that it has caused a delay in the provision of emergency response. But this should not keep you from seeking medical attention whenever you develop emergency symptoms. While it is important that you exercise caution during the pandemic, you should be able to tell the difference between health symptoms that can wait and those that require immediate care. 

A lot of people are delaying treatment or avoiding hospital visits to seek medical care because they’re afraid they might contract Covid-19. But if you’re feeling sick or are experiencing symptoms of an ailment that you’re not familiar with, you’re better off visiting the hospital for treatment. Some of the health symptoms that will require emergency care include shortness of breath, experiencing sudden weakness or dizziness, and experiencing pressure or pain on your upper abdomen or chest. 

Other symptoms that will require care in a hospital like the Idaho Falls Community Hospital emergency room are a spine injury, head injury, uncontrolled bleeding, difficulty speaking, and confusion. If you’ve suffered injuries due to a fall or an accident, you’ll need to visit a hospital immediately to have these injuries evaluated. 

While you risk getting infected by Covid-19 by going to a hospital, the risk of not having an emergency condition treated is even higher. 

4. You Need Surgery that Can’t Wait

Some surgical procedures just can’t wait, especially when they affect your day-to-day activities and lower the quality of your life. If you, for instance, get an injury that requires a surgical procedure during lockdown, you need to visit the hospital. It’s important that you discuss surgeries, like a joint replacement procedure to improve the quality of your life, with your doctor. Even with the lockdown, there are surgery centers and hospitals that continue to schedule elective surgeries for knee or joint replacements. If your doctor advises and even schedules one for you, consider going for it. Physiotherapists know that treating injuries early produces better outcomes as opposed to waiting. 

5. You have Scheduled Cancer Screenings

Like many other preventive appointments, cancer screenings are affected anytime a lockdown is announced during the Covid-19 pandemic. But halting biopsies and colonoscopies does not mean that cancer stops spreading. It only means that the treatment of cancer patients gets delayed due to the late diagnosis of the disease. 

It also means that many patients are sent back on the queue and, when screenings resume, there will be further delay. When routine screenings resume, people who are most at risk would have to be prioritized. For instance, people who have previously had abnormal mammograms and are due for screening or those who have a family history of breast cancer will need to be screened first. 

It’s best to reach out to your doctor immediately if you experience cancer symptoms like severe fatigue, bowel changes, or breast changes. If you had undergone cancer screening before and received negative results and your family has no history of cancer, pushing your next screening a couple of months further may not make a difference. However, consider visiting the hospital during lockdown if you feel you still need the screening and are concerned about falling back in the line due to deferred appointment backlog.  

6. You’re in The Middle Of a Dental Treatment 

In the early stages, detecting dental problems like tiny tooth decays can be challenging because there are no symptoms at that point. As such, you’ll not be aware that your teeth have a problem until you get a dental examination. This is why dental cleaning and checkups are recommended either on a quarterly or biannual basis, depending on the status of your oral health. Going for checkups in these intervals makes dental treatment not just effective, but also more affordable. 

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the postponement of elective dental treatments. This kept patients who needed dental care off the dental chair for months. But for those who are in the middle of treatment, this delay can become problematic in the future. To avoid this, you’ll need to visit the hospital during lockdown. A good example is children who have braces that need to be adjusted by an orthodontist every six weeks. Leaving those braces unattended could result in teeth moving the wrong way, which has the potential of damaging the root beneath. Patients who are in the middle of getting crowns fixed on their teeth could also experience problems if the treatment is paused for an extended period of time. 

For instance, if a temporary crown placed on a tooth comes off, it needs to be replaced immediately. If this is not done, the tooth can drift and create a narrow space. To correct this, new measurements will have to be taken and a new crown fabricated. As a general rule, any dental procedure that a patient starts and fails to complete creates more problems. The more the treatment is delayed, the more complex the problem becomes. If your problem only needed a simple filling, a root canal might be needed if the filling is not done right away. 

7. You have a Chronic Illness that Requires Care 

Chronic medical conditions cannot be put on hold. They require regular monitoring by specialists that can only be done in-person. Though some chronic illnesses can be managed at home using basic equipment and regular virtual check-ups, there are some conditions that should be taken care of in-person. 

For instance, if your blood sugar levels or blood pressure are not managed well, you’ll need a healthcare specialist to attend to you in-person. You’ll also need to visit the hospital regularly during lockdown if you’ve been put on blood thinners. This is because doctors will need to draw your blood regularly to check medication levels. 

Other chronic illnesses that require in-person care during lockdown are kidney disease and congestive heart failure. Patients with these conditions require in-person treatment and evaluations to ensure that the conditions don’t become acute. To set up in-person appointments, you’ll need to contact your doctor and work with them to settle on a date.

8. You Need Frequent Blood Tests 

There are people who have conditions that require their blood to be tested frequently. For example, if you have suffered a blood clot and have been placed on anticoagulant medication like warfarin to avoid recurrence, you’ll require weekly blood tests to check how much of the drug is in your blood and determine whether there’s a need to adjust your current dosage. 

You’ll need to visit the hospital during lockdown for these tests because low levels of the drug mean your body will not have adequate anticoagulants to prevent blood clots. This exposes you to clotting, which poses a risk to your health. On the other hand, the opposite of this—having very high levels of anticoagulants that make it difficult for your blood to clot—exposes you to the risk of excessive bleeding. 

Even though Covid-19 has caused anxiety among patients due to the risk of exposure during hospital visits, patients who have blood-related conditions have no option because blood tests have to be done in labs. The best way for patients and health workers to remain safe is to take precautions during hospital visits because skipping the recommended blood tests only jeopardizes the patient’s health. 

The Bottomline

Lockdowns have become common as governments across the world struggle to contain the spread of Covid-19. This has led to a drop in the number of patients who visit hospitals during lockdowns for fear of contracting the Coronavirus. While it is important for people to minimize exposure to the virus, there are conditions that require in-person medical care that can’t wait. Failing to get medical attention for such conditions can have serious effects on the health of patients. If you experience any of the signs discussed above, you need to visit the hospital immediately even while during lockdown.