The COVID crisis has altered virtually every aspect of life. Everything from schools and restaurants to houses of worship have been shuttered, as people try to avoid close contact with others. And for good reason. Exposure to this dangerous, highly transmissible virus must be avoided as much as possible if we are to protect one another.
New evidence suggests that about one-third of all patients with the virus will be asymptomatic. This means they will not have noticeable symptoms, and may not know they could be capable of infecting others. Even otherwise healthy people may be at risk.
But what about people with preexisting medical conditions; people who need regular care and attention in order to safely and effectively manage their health? If you have been diagnosed with lymphedema, you may have asked, “is it safe to go to the doctor for my lymphedema treatments?”
It’s an important question. Lymphedema management is crucial to minimize the swelling and discomfort that can result from uncontrolled lymphedema. On the other hand, there is legitimate concern that going to the hospital or clinic now may entail an unnecessary risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus. If you have to ask, “should I go to the doctor,” then it may be time for you to have a frank discussion with your healthcare provider. He or she may recommend a relatively new alternative; telemedicine.
The Importance of Maintaining Your Medical Routines
What is telemedicine, and how does telemedicine work? Telemedicine has been around for some time, but it’s beginning to come into its own, for obvious reasons, during this unprecedented crisis. As the name implies, telemedicine involves a remote “visit” with your doctor conducted using secure video conferencing technology. Readily available software allows you and your provider to see one another and discuss your condition, all at a distance. Ideally, this session is secure; no one else can intercept and view your private session.
Using the camera from your smartphone or computer, you can show your doctor how your affected limb is faring, and he or she can examine any problems that may be emerging. The condition of your skin is something, for example, that he or she might wish to examine visually. Of course, they can also question you about how you’re coping, how your management procedures are going, and whether or not you need any new prescriptions for medical-grade compression wear.
If you are in the phase of lymphedema treatment that requires regular visits to a healthcare provider for complete decongestive therapy (including manual lymphatic drainage; a procedure best administered by a trained therapist, in person), you should discuss the need to keep up with these appointments. Given proper precautions (wearing masks and gloves), it should be possible to continue such treatments safely. Of course, notify your provider if you experience any symptoms of potential infection. If you are actively infected with the novel coronavirus, your provider will most likely ask you to stay at home, or check-in at your local hospital for care, if warranted by your symptoms.
Tips for Safe Doctor Visits
If you are advised to continue making in-person healthcare visits, take these simple precautions. Wash hands thoroughly before leaving for your appointment and upon arrival. Wear disposable gloves if possible, and take steps to avoid touching any surfaces unnecessarily. If you must touch a surface (a door handle, for instance), avoid touching your eyes or face, and wash your hands as soon as possible. Wear a mask. A medical-grade N-95 mask is ideal, but any face covering is better than nothing. Homemade cloth masks may not filter as effectively as an N-95, but they will at least largely prevent you from exposing others should you be infective and need to cough or sneeze.
Note that if you do not continue your recommended treatments, therapies or management procedures, your condition could get worse, progress, or even advance to the point that you could require hospitalization. While lymphedema is not curable, it is manageable. By following medical advice, you should be able to slow or halt the progression of your condition.
Finally, be aware that you need not venture out and risk exposure to obtain medical-grade compression wear. Lymphedema Products offers a comprehensive selection of compression garments, items, and accessories to meet virtually every conceivable need. We stock high-quality items from the world’s top manufacturers, in a range of styles and sizes. We also offer a complete assortment of personal care items, such as gentle, lymphedema-appropriate deodorants, skincare, and hair care products.