Local health experts encourage people not to bypass doctor visits when sick

Credit: Kelly Settle

Credit: Kelly Settle

Many people are staying at home to avoid COVID-19, but that shouldn’t include staying away from the doctor, health professionals told the Dayton Daily News.

Sara Wilson-Rector, a family nurse practitioner at Premier Health Family Care of Vandalia, said letting other illnesses go untreated can make things worse and can sometimes cause serious damage.

“Coming into the office is safe. We are separating healthy patients from sick patients,” Wilson said. “We want to treat you. We don’t want patients to not reach out if they are feeling bad.”

Wilson said her office has seen a lot of sinus infections, some flu and some strep throat, all of which have similar symptoms to COVID.

Wilson said she has been testing patients for COVID to rule it out. Then she will treat with antibiotics, steroids or the appropriate treatment.

“If it is not COVID, it needs to be treated appropriately,” Wilson said. “Things like strep or sinus infections are not going to go away on their own most of the time.”

Wilson said that untreated strep throat can cause bigger problems, like inflammation in joints or other parts of the body. Leaving an ear infection untreated can lead to a ruptured ear drum or hearing loss. An urinary tract infection can be very serious if it is left untreated, Wilson said.

“People are still getting other infections that need to be treated,” she said. “It is always better to seek treatment.”

People with chronic illnesses, like diabetes and high blood pressure, should not go a long time without checking in with their medical providers.

“If those types of illnesses are not well managed, they can be dangerous,” Wilson said.

Health professionals prefer to see patients in-person, but telehealth is also a good option to get treatment for non-COVID-related sickness during the pandemic. Wilson said Premier Health patients can reach out to their doctors and nurse practitioners via MyChart.

“We want you to reach out, even if you don’t come in,” Wilson said.

Dr. Randy Eisenhut is the chief medical officer of PriMED’s Pediatric Division. He said patients skipping care during the pandemic is a bigger problem in adult care, but people should not attribute all sickness to COVID.

“People want to call in and get a test for COVID without evaluating for other symptoms,” he said. “You can’t attribute everything to COVID.”

Eisenhut is also a practicing pediatrician and sees patients from PriMED Centerville Pediatrics. He said well visits for children were down for a month or two at the beginning of the pandemic, but most parents are bringing their children in for wellness checks and vaccines.

The volume of sick children is down this year, Eisenhut said. He said he is seeing virtually no flu this year, but still some cases of strep and the stomach bug in children.

Eisenhut said he thinks the number of sick children is down because of social distancing and masking protocols many have been following because of COVID.

“Every facility that I know of has taken great precautions to keep their staff and patients safe,” Eisenhut said.

Eisenhut advised families to avoid large gatherings, like sleepovers.

Wilson said she tells patients it is important to take care of themselves in this pandemic, even when they are not sick, by exercising, sleeping and eating right.

“You need to listen to your body,” she said.

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