How to look after your health during the pandemic? While the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions slowly roll back in Hong Kong, it is clear they are going to have a lasting impact on our health. It is rare to find someone who has not been significantly impacted by Covid-19, says Dr Dianna Cooke.
The disruption of home schooling, gym closures, working from home, social isolation, and job instability, have had a significant impact on all facets of our health.
The combination of these stress factors and the understandable desire to isolate as much as possible, means many people have pushed their preventative health care to the side. Childhood vaccinations have been delayed, routine women’s health checks like pap smears and breast screening are being put off and testing for blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes are being sidelined.
However, the reality is that your health and that of your family can not and should not wait. So here are some tips to help you get back on track.
A lot of parents have been worried about bringing their young children into clinics and have delayed routine childhood vaccinations. The worry with this is that we risk seeing the re-emergence of preventable diseases like Pertussis (Whooping Cough) over the coming months. If you have ongoing concerns about bringing your baby in to see your doctor, speak with your clinic. You may be able to arrange to come at a quieter time, attend a separate area of the clinic, or even arrange a home visit.
Check in on Your Mental Health
Nearly every patient that I am currently seeing is struggling to some extent. With entire families schooling and working from home, isolation from family and friends abroad, worry about the pandemic, financial and career instability, increased alcohol intake, decreased exercise, Covid-19 has provided us with an abundance of mental health challenges. Take some time to really check in with yourself, your family and friends. Ask yourself what you can bring back into your life that helps keep you balanced? Perhaps some time with nature, exercise, mindfulness, hobbies or social time.
When you’re struggling, talking to a doctor about your mental health can seem daunting, but nearly everyone finds that talking with their doctor, creating a management plan and getting the support that they need makes an amazing difference in their lives.
Preventative Health Screens
While the rest of our lives have been on hold, unfortunately the risk of contracting a preventable disease is always there. It is essential that screening for preventable cancers with pap smears and breast checks do not get unnecessarily delayed. Common lifestyle changes we are seeing with Covid-19, like increased food and alcohol intake and decreased exercise can also significantly impact blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels among other things.
Much of the risk associated with these conditions can be mitigated if addressed with appropriate lifestyle changes, monitoring and medications. Be proactive – do not wait until you feel sick to see your GP and start addressing your health.
Get the Flu Vaccination
Given the crossover of symptoms between Covid-19 and Influenza, more than ever before, it is important to have a flu vaccination. As well as the serious health impacts of contracting Influenza, this year, contracting Influenza can lead to the unnecessary anxiety and inconvenience of confusing flu symptoms with those of Covid-19.
Although there have been some challenges with the availability of the vaccine in Hong Kong this year, additional supply will arrive over the coming months. Keep checking in for availability with your Doctor. The flu vaccine can be given to children as young as 6 months old.
Prioritise Your Health
In these challenging times it is more important than ever that you take care of your health and that of your family. Unfortunately, Covid-19 will likely be around for some time to come and you cannot neglect your health indefinitely. Your doctor will be well placed to help you mitigate the risks and guide you through this difficult period.
BIO – Dr Dianna Cooke is an Australian trained General Practitioner at Central Health Medical Practice.
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