Non-urgent medical appointments have been on hold for much of the pandemic. Over the past four months, patients and physicians have canceled routine checkups, postponed preventive screenings and put off elective surgeries to protect the health and safety of everyone involved.
But just because in-person visits took a break, that doesn’t mean diseases did. Here are 3 health practices that experts say you might want to reconsider delaying.
- Cancer screenings
- Dental visits
STAY ON TOP OF VACCINES
There has been a sharp decline in childhood vaccinations during the pandemic, leaving many kids at risk for preventable deadly diseases. Adults, children and older adults need to make sure their vaccines are up to date. Getting a flu shot this fall will be more important than ever. Keeping everyone healthy and out of the hospital as much as possible helps to conserve potentially scarce resources that may be needed for COVID-19. Some vaccines can be administered at a pharmacy or a walk-in clinic. Check with your doctor to figure out the best time and setting to schedule your shots.
FOLLOW UP CANCER SCREENINGS
Like most other preventive appointments, routine cancer screenings have come to a standstill since March. This means thousands of Americans will receive a delayed cancer diagnosis because of the pandemic. When it comes to rescheduling screenings, some people need to be seen sooner than others. If you have a family history of breast cancer or have had an abnormal mammogram in the past – do not put off your screening. The same goes for cervical and colon cancer screenings in higher-risk individuals.
Dental problems early on — like very small decay in a tooth — rarely have symptoms, so people often aren’t aware they have a problem until a dentist examines their teeth. The coronavirus pandemic kept most patients out of the dental chair the last several months. For those in the midst of treatment, that delay could become problematic.
People with braces are usually seen by their orthodontist every 5 to 6 weeks for adjustments; but missing appointments and leaving the braces unattended can cause the teeth to move in a bad way and sometimes cause damage in the root underneath.
With dental procedures, if you start and don’t finish it, it will create more of a problem. The longer time you wait, the more complexity you generate in the mouth. Where you once needed a simple filling, you might now need a root canal. If you needed a root canal, you could end up with an abscess or maybe lose the tooth altogether. You should still go to the dentist – but be careful.
Just remember: Everyone is different, and there is no single standard for which appointments are okay to delay, and which are not. Balance the risks and benefits and discuss them with your doctors. Your health and wellness are at stake.