Technology, the conversion of prescription meds to over-the-counter status, and the cost of healthcare have led to a rise in self-care. So has the upsurge in the philosophy of wellness.
Most people would prefer to avoid going to the doctor’s office, although it isn’t always possible. There are some health issues that require in-person interaction. But given busy schedules, healthcare costs, and a reluctance to sit in a waiting room, it’s a great option when viable.
If you’re looking for ways to stay well while staying on your own turf, you’re not alone. Here are three ways to skip the doctor’s office, depending on your diagnosis.
1. Treat Yourself After a Diagnosis
The internet has put a tremendous amount of health information at everyone’s fingertips. Just Google your symptoms, and you’ll probably get millions of results. Despite the temptation, you should avoid diagnosing yourself unless you have a medical degree.
Many symptoms can mean nothing, or they can point to a life-threatening condition. It’s likely you aren’t qualified to make that call. It’s a smart and necessary move to see your doctor for an exam, testing, and a diagnosis.
However, once you receive that diagnosis, you can potentially skip the office visits when the condition recurs. For example, some sexually transmitted infections, such as genital herpes, require an in-person diagnosis. But once you have it, you can take advantage of genital herpes treatment at home by consulting an online provider for treatment.
Likewise, once your doctor has diagnosed that itching and vaginal discharge as a yeast infection, you’ll recognize the next one. Now that antifungals like Monistat are available over the counter, there’s no need to head to the doctor’s office. Just pick up a box at the pharmacy — or order it online — and clear the infection up on your own.
Returning to the doctor’s office repeatedly for treatment of some diagnosed conditions is a waste of time and money. Instead, take your diagnosis and find remedies that don’t require sitting in a waiting room. Reserve those in-person visits for treatment that requires having your doctor in the same physical space.
2. Get Diagnosed From a Distance
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the use of telemedicine. If you developed a nasty rash during lockdown, a video consult with a healthcare provider wasn’t just convenient. It was necessary to get relief while staying safe.
Improved distance technologies, including better cameras and screen image quality, have made telehealth a great option. Even though you’re no longer sheltering in place, it still offers a way to forgo the office visit. At least, you can skip it for a lot of things that ail you.
If you break your arm or need stitches, you can’t avoid the trip to the doctor. But video diagnosis of such issues as sinus infections, conjunctivitis, urinary tract infections, and erectile dysfunction is quick and easy. All you have to do is schedule an online visit and show up in your living room.
Once providers diagnose conditions virtually, they can call in a prescription to your pharmacy. You may still need to make a trip to pick it up, but you’ve saved that time-wasting office visit. Meanwhile, you still have ample opportunity to ask the provider all the questions you have.
Telehealth is like being in the same room with your doctor without the trip. If an in-person visit is required, the provider will let you know. Otherwise, save yourself the trouble.
3. Diagnose Thyself
We know, we know. Earlier we said you shouldn’t attempt to diagnose yourself if you lack medical training, but there’s an exception to that rule: at-home testing.
Oh, the places you will not have to go because there are home tests available. Why make a trip to the doctor’s office if you think you might be pregnant? A home test will let you know if you need to start making those obstetric appointments or not.
A growing variety of home tests can save you time and trouble. Consider how great it was when the home COVID-19 tests became available at your local pharmacy and online. Now you can just keep a couple on hand for when you might need to screen yourself.
Some home tests give you results right then and there. Others, like those for HIV or colon cancer, may require that you ship swabs, slides, or sample containers to a lab. However the results are analyzed, and you’ll know whether you need to visit your doctor or obtain some OTC relief.
Besides lab tests, technology to monitor health conditions has developed in leaps and bounds. Take your own blood pressure, monitor your blood glucose, and check your oxygen saturation levels. You’ll know whether you need to seek in-person medical attention without making an unnecessary journey to find out.
At-home tests and monitoring devices can be fantastic screening tools for a wealth of health issues. Using them can reduce your anxiety and put you on your way to treating your symptoms much more quickly.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Let’s face facts. Your health is one of the most important things in your life. That primacy makes it worth making the necessary investments in time and money to protect it. Yet that doesn’t mean you can’t make smart choices about how you invest in your health and well-being. Every diagnosis doesn’t require a trek across town and a potentially costly doctor’s visit.
Of course, you shouldn’t avoid seeing your doctor in person if you really need to. That gash on your arm isn’t going to stitch itself! But if you can handle your healthcare another way, it may be OK to skip the trip.
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