Delaying medical care is usually not in your best interest. Unfortunately, trends indicate many people continue to avoid seeking the medical care they need in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Keep reading to learn more about symptoms and conditions that may signal the need for treatment, and call our free Consult-A-Nurse line at (833) 866-6726 if you have any questions about when to seek care. Nurses are available 24/7/365 to answer questions or discuss symptoms and connect you to a wide range of care at many convenient locations near you.
Every second counts when it comes to time-sensitive conditions like stroke, heart attack and appendicitis. Unfortunately, since March, healthcare providers across the country have seen an alarming drop in the number of patients seeking care for these conditions.
- Stroke: When it comes to stroke, time is brain. Delaying care even minutes can increase brain damage, disability and even death. During a stroke, several million brain cells die every minute. And for ischemic strokes, the clot busting drug tPA can only be administered within the first few hours after the start of symptoms.
- Heart attack: The longer a heart attack goes untreated, a larger amount of heart muscle may be damaged. Depending on the extent of damage, this can lead to heart failure, arrhythmia or even death. The quicker a person can recognize symptoms, get to the ER and be taken to the cath lab, the better their chance of survival and minimized damage.
- Appendicitis: After 24 to 48 hours, a person experiencing appendicitis could experience an appendix rupture. This causes the infection to spill into the abdomen which can be life-threatening. That is why it is so important to call your doctor or head to the emergency room if you are suspicious of appendicitis. The most common symptom of appendicitis is pain in your abdomen, but other symptoms may include loss of loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, inability to pass gas, swelling in your abdomen, low-grade fever.
When to go to the emergency room
Never ignore symptoms. A good rule of thumb to remember: If you would normally go to an emergency room for your condition, you should still go during a pandemic. Here are some sure signs you require emergency attention:
- Head injury, loss of consciousness or other major trauma
- Severe abdominal pain
- Signs of a stroke such as one-sided weakness or numbness
- Signs of a heart attack such as chest pain
- High fever
- Open fracture
- Uncontrollable pain or bleeding
- Breathing problems
Don’t skip regular appointments
Medical emergencies are not the only reason to seek care during a pandemic. Staying healthy is important, and routine checkups and screenings are a key component of any healthcare regimen, potentially helping to prevent you from becoming ill with other diseases (besides COVID-19). This is especially true for certain high-risk patients, those who may need help managing chronic conditions and other vulnerable populations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest talking to your healthcare provider about how to stay healthy during COVID-19:
- Make sure you are up-to-date on vaccinations (vaccinations for influenza and pneumococcal disease are particularly important for those at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19)
- Ask your provider about preventive services, such as cancer screenings, that could help prevent you from becoming sick with COVID-19 or other illnesses.
- Talk with your provider about developing a wellness plan to help you stay active, eat right and cope with stress.
If you have an underlying medical condition:
- Follow the treatment plan you have in place with your healthcare provider.
- Continue medicines and do not change your treatment plan without talking to your healthcare provider.
- Have at least a 30-day supply of prescription and non-prescription medicines. (Talk to your healthcare provider (or pharmacist, insurer, etc.) about getting an extra supply to reduce trips to the pharmacy.)
- Do not delay getting emergency care for your underlying medical condition because of COVID-19.
- Call your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your underlying medical conditions or if you get sick and think that you may have COVID-19. If you need emergency help, call 911 right away.