HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — More people are reporting they’re afraid to go into the doctor’s office, or seek emergency care at a hospital during the pandemic.
But, health professionals say this fear of the doctor could potentially turn into a much more dangerous situation.
We looked into the risks of avoiding health care during this time.
We spoke with Dr. Neha Shah with Thrive Alabama. She tells us, “They might hear on the news that they’re in the technical high risk categories with diabetes or high blood pressure. I think that they’re, in particular, afraid to come in because they’re afraid to leave the house.”
Dr. Shah she’s heard a number of concerns from her patients and she says this fear among older patients can come with higher risks. Dr. Shah tells our reporter, “... In not wanting to leave the house, I’ve seen older populations kind of making due as far as their diet goes and not wanting to go to the grocery store… That ends up playing a part in their blood pressure and diabetes control as well.”
We also spoke with Dr. Mary Odofin of Huntsville Internal Medicine Associates to get a second perpective. Dr. Odofin says she’s seen the same thing. She tells our reporter, “The decline in doctors visits has been significant, about 40% nationwide it seems like.”
She reminds parents that now is not the time to stop bringing your children to the doctor, especially if they're in need of immunizations.
You might be doing more harm than good.
Dr. Odofin says, “The problem is if you don’t go for your physical and you don’t go for your annual shots that puts you at an increased risk of, one, even if you get exposed to the coronavirus, your immunity is not good enough. And of course now, you're probably going to be sicker.”
Both doctors say 'telehealth' is the wave of the future. But, some patients aren’t taking advantage of it, and avoiding health care altogether.
Dr. Odofin tells our reporter, “Unfortunately, most patients do not know there is a telephone visit accommodation for most of the doctors offices.”
If you feel you need to go in for a health visit-- or doctors ask you to physically come for a visit-- do it! Dr. Shah says you might see some changes. She adds, “It’s not as easy to get in, you might have to wear a mask or answer some questions to get in-- so, it’s a little bit different than normal. But, I don’t want that to scare anyone from coming in.”
If you put going to the doctor off for too long, you could be risking more than you know. Dr. Odofin says, “The problem is that most people that end up in the emergency room; Not for the coronavirus, but for other diseases, tend to be sicker because they waited too late to seek medical attention because of concerns about going to the doctors office.”
Harmony Healthcare IT recently surveyed 2,000 Americans on the topic of telehealth.
Here's what they found in the survey:
- 71% of respondents said they are fearful to visit a doctor’s office due to Covid-19.
- 67% of Americans have used telehealth since Covid-19 with an average of 2.9 telehealth visits, compared to only 46% prior to Covid-19.
- Even though 63% were apprehensive about their first telehealth appointment, 72% ultimately enjoyed the experience.
Thrive Alabama offers COVID-19 testing. Visit their Facebook page for more information on locations.
RELATED: Are your children afraid of masks?