Concerns about COVID-19 are at an all-time high, and understandably so. On March 11th, the World Health Organization classified the virus as a pandemic. Navigating this unfolding medical outbreak can feel scary, especially for those who are already facing unrelated illnesses. This is a scary time to sit in a doctor’s waiting room. Every time you hear a fellow patient cough or sniffle, you might not feel so confident. Telemedicine might be the answer for you during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here is more information about COVID-19 and how you can talk with a doctor without putting yourself at risk.

What we know about COVID-19

Experts are still learning a lot about the novel coronavirus and what this outbreak means for patients worldwide. The most recent CDC report suggests that most COVID-19 cases are mild, while roughly 16% of cases become serious. This virus seems to be especially deadly to immunocompromised and vulnerable patients, including elderly patients and those with pre-existing illnesses.

The most common COVID-19 symptoms (according to the CDC) include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Cough

The CDC also reports the following emergency warning symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Bluish lips or face

Why the doctor’s office might be a bad idea right now

Experts are suggesting that all unnecessary public exposure should be avoided to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Between your work, grocery, pharmacy, and healthcare needs, it can seem impossible to stay home all day. However, in-person doctor’s visits can be especially unsafe, as they may host additional COVID-19 concerns.

Perhaps one of the most concerning elements of COVID-19 is the fact that symptoms do not appear in infected individuals for 2-14 days. This can encourage those who are unaware that they have the virus to continue their daily routine, unknowingly infecting others. 

While healthcare professionals everywhere are working diligently to keep facilities safe and clean, COVID-19 is proving difficult to contain. Doctor’s offices across the nation are currently experiencing high traffic from individuals showing COVID-19 symptoms. If possible, avoiding the doctor’s office could help you limit or prevent your exposure to the virus. 

Crowded doctor’s offices could also prove stressful right now with overcrowding and limited resources. This added stress and exposure to various illnesses can compromise your immune system further. If it is possible for you to skip visiting a doctor in person, the general consensus among experts seems to suggest that you are better safe than sorry.

However, skipping the doctor’s office does not mean skipping quality care. Now is the time to consider using telemedicine to chat with a doctor. 

Telemedicine during the coronavirus pandemic

If you can’t safely visit your doctor’s office, why not have your doctor come to you? Telemedicine lets you meet with a practitioner digitally to promote your safety and convenience. This can help you get the care you need while reducing your risk of coronavirus exposure. 

You might be wondering whether or not you can get the care you need remotely. In virtual discussions with your doctor, they can assess your symptoms and care options just as easily as an in-person visit. Advanced telemedicine services, such as with Vytal Health, also administer at-home lab tests, send prescriptions to your local pharmacy, and provide you with the supplements you may need. 

This comprehensive care can be completed without ever stepping foot inside a doctor’s office. While this is especially important for older individuals or individuals with pre-existing illnesses, telemedicine has plenty to offer those who are not a high risk.

What if I am not a high risk for COVID-19?

Even if you do not consider yourself to be immunocompromised, skipping the doctor’s office for a telemedicine alternative is still important for a number of reasons:

  1. Preventing COVID-19 is preferable to treating it.
  2. Others are at risk. While you might not be immunocompromised you could unknowingly carry the virus and pass it on to someone who is. Social distancing isn’t just for your sake.
  3. Even at a lower risk, you still face the chance of becoming seriously ill from this virus. About 1 in 6 people who contract the new coronavirus will need hospitalization. Avoiding the virus just makes sense.
  4. The available testing and care resources for COVID-19 are limited, which could make it difficult to determine whether or not you have the virus after putting yourself at risk. It’s better just to not put yourself at risk.
  5. If exposed to the virus (say, if it turns out you sat in a waiting room with somebody infected), you will be quarantined for at least 14 days to minimize your chances of infecting others. 

Can you find quality telemedicine care?

There is one common fear among patients who are considering switching to telemedicine—will I still receive high-quality care? The truth is more and more practitioners are offering telemedicine services during the pandemic. Going online means having more choices about the medical philosophy of your practitioner.

If you’re frustrated with the type of medical service conventional medicine has provided up until now, take this time to consider a change. Online functional medicine, like at Vytal Health, may be an alternative that you appreciate.

A functional medicine practitioner works closely with you to find the underlying causes of your symptoms. Unlike conventional medicine, your functional medicine doctor invests substantial time in discussing your day-to-day life, your symptoms, your medical history, and more to get to the bottom of your illness. Functional medicine is designed to treat the source of your illness rather than your symptoms. 

Moving past the transactional in-and-out doctor’s visit, functional medicine offers the dedicated time and attention your current healthcare approach may be missing. Functional telemedicine can provide you this from the comfort and safety of your home, reducing your risk of COVID-19 exposure.

Benefits of telemedicine

Not only does telemedicine limit your exposure to COVID-19, but it also can help you balance your life and your healthcare. Telemedicine brings convenience to healthcare. You can visit a doctor without any of the hassles that you might find in traditional medicine. 

Much like washing your hands regularly and keeping surfaces clean, telemedicine is helpful both during COVID-19 risks and otherwise. 

When going out or visiting a doctor is inevitable

During this outbreak, self-quarantining and social distancing are essential. However, you might find yourself in the position of needing to visit public places. Even a quick run to the store requires caution. Here are the best ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:

  • If you feel sick or at-risk, find a friend or neighbor who will run out for you
  • Support your immune system to promote your health
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or hand sanitizing gel
  • Disinfect surfaces before and after use with alcohol or bleach
  • Stock up on necessities to limit your need for public exposure
  • Follow any additional advice or guidelines set by your doctor

If you suspect that you have COVID-19 and need to visit a doctor’s office for testing, be sure to take extra precaution to protect yourself and others. Wear a mask, if you have one, or cover your mouth and nose with a scarf.

COVID-19 information considerations

Most of the information we currently have about COVID-19 comes from the longest-standing developments in Wuhan, China. This area has regional and cultural differences that could impact effects of the virus (including air quality and smoking rates). Various COVID-19 patterns and trends are only just beginning to emerge within the US and other impacted countries. 

We are still learning more about how COVID-19 affects different individuals and demographics. This uncertainty further proves that it is best to err on the side of caution until the CDC and WHO know more. 

Telemedicine help—See a doctor without risking COVID-19 infection

Here at Vytal Health, our telemedicine practitioners are working vigilantly to accommodate new patients in an effort to protect those who may be put at risk when visiting a doctor’s office. Make an appointment today. We are here for you throughout the coronavirus crisis and beyond.

Read more about your immune system and the coronavirus here.