You’ve been staying away for a year. Is it time to see your primary care doctor? Even with the rapid implementation of telemedicine services during the COVID-19 pandemic, diagnoses of common conditions decreased substantially in 2020, suggesting a large number of patients have undiagnosed conditions. In addition, primary care is seeing a rebound in workload as COVID-19 restrictions ease and vaccinations now universally available. Therefore, it’s your time as a patient to head to your primary care doctor and pursue any undiagnosed condition or delayed diagnosis.
Patients in our office often start with an apologetic tone, “I know this isn’t as serious as COVID” or “I know you’ve been through so much as a frontline worker,” followed by their issue. There is no need to apologize; you need to see us; we are here to serve you and your problems. As a happily busy primary care provider here are 10 reasons you should visit your doctor post-COVID.
- Blood pressure. Folks are coming in with elevated blood pressures (>140/90), and though home blood pressure cuffs are readily available, many aren’t using them. High blood pressure is an easily modifiable risk factor for stroke and heart disease that carries little to no symptoms. So let us take a look.
2. Oh, your aching back. Primary Care docs can help with your back pain. Prolonged sitting while working from home and Zooming led to low back pain and soreness in many of our patients. Ask your provider about options, including physical therapy, medications, referral to orthopedists, and see if he/she thinks imaging is warranted.
3. The COVID-19 weight gain. Folks put weight on, and it’s ok to discuss this. Pharmacologic therapy for weight loss is a hot topic with the recently approved Semaglutide (Wegovy). Bring this up to your provider.
4. The “other” vaccines. Yes, we all know the COVID vaccine is available but talk to your provider about other vaccines you may be due for at your age. Shingles, for example, loves to creep in during stressful times, and we can vaccinate against that.
5. Refills. Run through your medication list with your provider to make sure you are set on your refills. Pay attention to your allergy and asthma medications or inhalers as we head into summer and fall. This may also be the first time many of you are traveling, so make sure you have refills ready. Lots of calls from patients on this front.
6. Get your routine labs/bloodwork checked. It’s been a while.
7. Ensure your age-appropriate health maintenance is up to date: mammogram, colon cancer screening, pap. This is your annual physical, and you’re probably late on it.
8. Mood. Your primary care provider can direct you to online therapists for help or discuss antidepressant/SSRI medication options if you are struggling with anxiety and depression, as many are.
9. Diabetes follow-up. People with diabetes were fearful, rightly so, of COVID exposure during the pandemic and stayed away. However, if you have diabetes, we should get you updated on your annual eye exam, check your A1c, and get labs as a start.
10. Aches and pains. Orthopedic issues that have been ignored during COVID are fine to discuss! Whether from sitting or using your new Peloton, common ailments we’re seeing are plantar fasciitis, wrist and thumb pain, knee pain, hip pain, rotator cuff issues, and iliotibial (IT) band syndrome, among others.
I am a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a board-certified Internal Medicine physician. For 20 years I’ve had an active private practice in general internal medicine currently at The Doctors of USC Beverly Hills. I am lucky to spend part of my time as the attending physician for medical students and residents during their rotations at LAC+USC Medical Center. I’ve been a medical advisor on leading health social networking sites including Dailystrength.org and Sharecare and currently serve as the medical advisor and blogger for GoodRx.com, a prescription drug price comparison website, and GoodRx care powered by Hey Doctor.
My philosophy of care centers around seeing things we can see coming, and nailing them head-on. I appreciate the idea of sharing power and responsibility for the choices one makes for prevention, treatment, and investigation into medical problems. My hope is to write blog posts to empower patients to navigate their own health by laying out the ways that medicine can guide you with strategies to investigate, prevent, and treat some common medical issues, big and small.
I have appeared on The Doctors, Fox Sports West, The Ricki Lake Show, as well as many local news outlets and have been featured in numerous online and print publications. I am a fellow of the American College of Physicians and honored to be named “Top Doctor” in Los Angeles and Pasadena Magazine for years.