Chronic Illness, Telehealth and the Pandemic
The pandemic has impacted the lives of almost everyone in some way. But healthcare has been incredibly impacted. Specifically, in order to keep people safe from contracting the COVID-19 virus, telehealth has become more prominent than ever. And previously neglected chronic illnesses seemed to catch up with many of us during the pandemic. While it’s not necessarily new, the pandemic boosted the practice of telehealth tremendously across the country. And there are many benefits to it for people who might otherwise have accessibility issues.
But, if you’re dealing with a chronic illness, telehealth and other changes made in the healthcare industry might not be in your best interest.
So, how has the pandemic changed treatment for those who are suffering from chronic illnesses?
Chronic Illness; from Frustration to Telehealth
Whether you’ve been able to hop on to a telehealth session with your doctor or not, the pandemic has caused a lot of frustration in getting deserved treatment.
First, if you have been able to meet with your doctor(s) in person, you’ve probably experienced extended wait times. Many clinics and practices are short-staffed. Others are trying to space patients out, so time spent in different waiting areas is longer.
When you have a chronic illness, long wait times can be difficult. You might be in pain or discomfort, and sitting there longer than usual will not help. Extended waits between visits have also become prominent, which can be difficult if you need help and relief immediately.
At the start of COVID, hospitals were forced to put more resources into treating critical patients with the virus. As a result, patients with chronic illnesses or other cases were seen less frequently. Those depending on consistent treatment suffered, as a result.
Telehealth and Managing Your Chronic Illness
Because the treatment changes brought on by COVID may not be going back to “normal” just yet, learning how to manage your illness at home is crucial. Obviously, that’s another huge change that can cause additional stress and confusion during times of need.
For some people, home management techniques simply don’t work. Or, they might for a while, but eventually, medical treatment is necessary. Patients having to wait significantly longer between visits can find themselves on a decline very quickly.
No matter what symptoms you’re having, one thing you can do to help manage them is to have an open dialogue with your doctor. One benefit of telehealth is that it often makes healthcare providers more accessible. Consistent communication is important. If you explain what you’re dealing with, your provider may be able to call in a new prescription or recommend something else.
Taking Care of Yourself
The lack of treatment options and availability throughout COVID is, again, extremely frustrating. If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you’re waiting for your doctor to see you (yet again), you’ve probably felt completely overwhelmed.
One of the best things you can do is to take care of yourself and manage your stress. Don’t let yourself get too frustrated by these treatment changes. Instead, find ways to relax and de-stress every day. Doing so can help to lower your blood pressure and may have a pain-reducing effect on your body.
Hopefully, now that there is a light at the end of the tunnel with the pandemic, normalcy will return to the healthcare industry. In some cases, however, pandemic practices might be here to stay. You may have to get used to longer wait times between visits, distancing, and the expanded and increasing promotion of telehealth.
Make sure you’re communicating your issues and concerns with your doctor, no matter what the rest of the pandemic may bring. Doing so may give you peace of mind, and hopefully, some measure of relief.