Across the entire healthcare sector currently, we are seeing many patients deferring treatment. This includes not undertaking regular check-ups with their GP, putting off getting blood tests, not getting their blood sugar or blood pressure checked, not going for a PAP smear or continuing to monitor chronic health conditions.
It makes sense though, doesn’t it. Nobody wants to leave the house at the moment and people don’t want to place any unnecessary strain on our already overwhelmed healthcare system. Is this you or someone you love?
It is so easy to put your health at the bottom of the list when we are in a time of crisis, prioritising all else above your own wellbeing. How many of you are parents who are now acting as teacher and technical support for your kids who are home 24/7? Maybe you are also trying to adjust to working from home on top of everything else. Or perhaps you are now out of work and dealing with significant financial stress. In the moment, these things all seem so much more important than a health check. However, it is only when you are on the other side of the crisis that you can look back and understand the missed opportunities when it comes to your health.
Why you must NOT put your health on hold
Let’s talk about the importance of continuity of care, especially for those who are in the middle of treatment (e.g. antimicrobial treatment for SIBO) or who have a chronic health condition (e.g. type 2 diabetes). We will also address the impending mental health crisis that will hit this country like a freight train when all of this is over.
Here’s a graphic I came across recently (credit: Victor Tseng, Twitter) that I had to share with you – because it is important and illustrates the situation well.
Right now, the government and the media are focusing on the immediate crisis and trying to manage the number of cases to avoid overwhelming our hospitals. Beyond stages one and two, which includes those who survive intensive care and require further medical care, comes waves three and four, which in my view are much more significant.
The third wave is a direct result of what we have discussed here so far – those who have not sought help or managed their condition during the current crisis. Ironically, in not wanting to burden our healthcare system, the burden will actually be greater after COVID-19 due to an influx of people who will require medical care as a consequence.
The message is very clear – look after yourself NOW!
More than ever, your own self-care is critical, not only for minimising your risk of acquiring the virus, but also for reducing your need to access further medical care in future. Prevention is always better than cure.
I treat a significant number of people in clinic for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and other gut issues, and many are on antimicrobial treatment as part of their healthcare plan. It is essential to continue this treatment wherever possible, to avoid relapsing and effectively having to start all over again.
I also work with people with autoimmune disease, respiratory disease such as COPD, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular health issues including hypertension, all of whom are at significantly increased risk of developing complications from COVID-19. It is critical that they continue to manage their health throughout this period.
For those of you who already struggle with mental health issues including anxiety and depression, it is essential to develop strategies to deal with the new world we find ourselves living in. Accessing naturopathic care during this time will help you to feel supported, give you specific nutritional advice and herbal support if required and provide coping strategies that will work for YOU.
When all of this is over, we will be forever changed – there is no doubt about it. Many Australians will be deeply affected financially, some will experience burnout and far too many will be looking to our medical system for support with mental health issues. I fear for our suicide rates over the next 6–12 months. Stage 4 is going to be significant.
Again, I cannot stress enough the importance of preventative care. We do not have to wait to reach stage 3 and 4 to act. If you prioritise your health and do what you need to do now to truly look after yourself, you will not become part of those statistics.
Ditch the guilt. Your loved ones need you and you are no good to anyone when you are sick.
If you need help, please reach out and ask for support. We would love to assist you. Under our new HOME CARE initiative, you can access all our usual services (Zoom or telephone). We also offer free Discovery Calls, a 20-minute chat with a naturopath designed to answer any questions you may have when considering an initial appointment. Book now and start getting the care you need!
Written by Denise Berry BHSc