When the first government Covid advice came out more than nine months ago there will have been few of us who would have thought that we’d be here at the start of 2021. Still locking down, with the numbers looking worse than they did in the early days of the response, it’s hard not to wonder when things will truly settle down. They will – and the vaccine should accelerate that process – but for those of us who have come to rely on trips out, it does make things harder.
One specific concern is related to how we address a health issue that would ordinarily have resulted in a trip to our doctors’ surgery. If you have a symptom – physical or mental – that’s bugging you, it’s natural to want to get it checked out. But with the risk of transmission on the way to (and at) the doctors’ surgery, many of us are now less enthused by the idea of making that trip, and are left making an alternative decision. Often we resolve to monitor the issue until it either goes away by itself or gets bad enough to necessitate urgent care. For those of us in the position, the following advice might help to make the right decisions.
You can Google your concerns, but exercise caution
When people say that the internet has been both a blessing and a curse, the statement is particularly true when it comes to medical advice. Online information can be enlightening and beneficial, but it can never be as tailored as medical advice needs to be. Even the most benign symptoms, when Googled, can return terrifying results. Don’t go to any search engine with an issue as general as “persistent cough” or “three-hour headache”, because without much more detail, not even a doctor could make the right decision on how to proceed with those symptoms. If you need to find useful home remedies, on the other hand, there are plenty of good sources online.
Take advantage of technology
While self-diagnosing with the help of your laptop may be a bad idea, there are some technological solutions that are more advisable. If you’ve been experiencing symptoms for longer than is comfortable, then it may be time to turn to an online GP. They will take a brief history from you, and then ask targeted questions that allow them to make a considered decision on how to proceed, and maybe a diagnosis. Increasingly, they can also authorise a prescription which can be sent to you by post. If you need to be seen in person, they’ll help to arrange that, too.
Urgent issues still require urgent care
There is an assumption – one which has been allowed to spread too wide – that hospitals filling up with Covid patients means that there is no capacity to treat people with any other issue. In truth, hospitals are separated into different wards and sections specifically so that such things don’t happen. If you have an issue that requires urgent treatment, then it is beneficial to go to the nearest urgent care centre where they can provide the intervention that is needed. Better to do this than let things get worse, and then need the acute medical attention that is stretched so thin right now.