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Could Telemedicine Help Manage Health Anxiety?

What is health anxiety?

Health anxiety is an obsessive, irrational worry that you have a serious medical condition. Many people with this condition find it difficult to live normal lives or function normally due to their preexisting fears. Bodily functions like breathing and heartbeat, or physical oddities and discomfort like rashes, headaches or lightheadedness, can trigger them to worry excessively and create more elaborate problems that frankly do not exist.

People with health anxiety tend to worry about specific organs (the heart, or brain), or diseases they heard of or read about. For example “Covid-19 is infecting people all over the world, it’s only a matter of time till infects me.”

The severity of health anxiety may fluctuate, and increase with age or during stressful life events.

Anxiety is a Protective Mechanism

Anxiety is a protective mechanism and scanning the body for an illness seems like the right thing to do to protect ourselves. However, when we are preoccupied with something, we tend to notice it even more normal. For example, when you are looking to purchase a new car, you tend to suddenly pay extra attention to every car on the road that catches your eye, when previously, you wouldn’t have even looked twice. Looking for symptoms makes you notice subtle sensations you might otherwise ignore.   When you become preoccupied with bodily sensations, those sensations become amplified and last longer.

To further understand what living with health anxiety is like, imagine the alarm at your front door went off every time someone randomly walks past. The door alarm would be misinterpreting passersby as visitors. This is similar to what happens with health anxiety. The person’s mind constantly interprets sensations that could be seen as normal, to be potentially life threatening

Types of health anxiety

There are two kinds of health anxiety:

  • Illness anxiety disorder: this occurs when the person has no physical symptoms
  • Somatic symptom disorder: this particularly occurs when the person has symptoms that are perceived as distressing to them or if they have multiple symptoms

Causes and contributing factors

Experts are yet to pin point the exact cause of health anxiety, however, it has been observed that the following factors contribute:

  • Poor knowledge of diseases and body sensations
  • Being around family or friends who worry a lot about their health or your health
  • Past experiences dealing with serious illnesses in childhood. The trauma from such experience may cause people to worry about something similar reoccurring in adulthood.
health anxiety signs

Warning signs of health anxiety

Health anxiety is typically characterized by preoccupation with the idea that you are seriously ill, based on normal body sensations (such as a noisy stomach) or minor signs (such as a minor rash). Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Checking the body for a disease over and over
  • Dodging doctor’s appointments to avoid diagnosis with a serious illness
  • Avoiding people, places or activities for fear of health risks
  • Constantly talking about your health and possible illnesses
  • Frequently searching the internet for causes of symptoms or possible illnesses
  • Worrying excessively about a specific medical condition or your risk of developing a medical condition because it runs in your family    

Who’s At Risk?

Health anxiety disorder often starts during early adulthood and could get progressively worse with age. In older people, the common fear is potential loss of memory. Other risk factors are:

  • Childhood abuse
  • Having a worrying personality
  • Going through a stressful period in life

How Can Telemedicine Help?

With telemedicine, people with health anxiety can access care instantly through video call, audio call text or email, and receive reassurance from medical professionals. This provides them a more helpful alternative to searching online for their symptoms. If the worries still persist despite constant reassurance (which often happens), it would be necessary for such a person to see a clinical psychologist and begin cognitive-behavioral therapy, which has proven to be the most effective treatment.

Luckily, mental health support is also available via telemedicine platforms. Due to the fact that people living with health anxiety, tend to avoid conventional hospital visits, online therapy would be the ideal medium to provide necessary support to them.

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Tremendoc provides Hygeia HMO Enrollees access to Online Doctors

Tremendoc is pleased to announce its partnership with leading health insurance and medical aid provider in Nigeria, Hygeia HMO. This partnership comes on the heels of the Coronavirus pandemic and its overarching effects on the healthcare sector. With the rise in the number of infected people in the country, and social distancing becoming the new normal, the need for Nigerians to access doctors online has never been more apparent.

The Nigerian government had previously imposed a total lockdown to prevent further spread of the virus, which has since been relaxed. However, there is great fear and paranoia surrounding visiting hospitals and health care facilities.

What does this mean for Healthcare in Nigeria?

Tremendoc’s strategic partnership with Hygeia HMO seeks to provide a solution to the fears many people have currently. Nigerians can now easily consult with licensed doctors on the Tremendoc app, from the comfort of their homes. Enrollees of Hygeia HMO can now take advantage of the simplicity and ease of the Tremendoc app. By accessing licensed doctors online, who can provide round the clock medical assistance.

What does the mean for Tremendoc?

“We are excited to partner with Hygeia HMO” Said Ugochukwu Chikezie, CEO of Tremendoc. “It is clear that at this time, people, especially Nigerians need quick access to quality healthcare without having to risk their health or disobey the lockdown order. With the Tremendoc app, we have taken steps to provide a solution that allows people to chat with or call a doctor online, and get the medical help they need. With Hygeia being a leader in the healthcare sector, we are very confident that this partnership will help provide easy and quick access to medical care to as many Nigerians as possible through their extensive customer network.”

Nigerian HMO gives access to online doctors

What does the mean for Hygiea?

Obinnia Abajue, CEO of Hygeia HMO, says “Hygeia HMO’s focus is always to provide affordable access to quality healthcare and our telemedicine offering makes this possible especially during this unprecedented crisis. With a Hygeia HMO plan, you get access to Telemedicine, and we’re excited to partner with Tremendoc for this service”.

At times like these, there is a need to further embrace technology as it opens up a door of opportunities for improved access to healthcare, and better health outcomes. Through telemedicine apps like Tremendoc, Nigerians can significantly reduce hospital visits during this pandemic while getting the right medical assistance through home monitoring programs, facilitated strictly online by licensed doctors.

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Easing the Coronavirus Lockdown in Nigeria: Pros & Cons

easing the corona virus lockdown in nigeria

The World Health Organization has warned that countries run the risk of an aggravated second wave of coronavirus infections, if previously imposed lockdowns are lifted prematurely.

The Global health body has advised that countries be very careful of relaxing restrictions, despite the fact that economies are facing extreme adversity.

WHO director general speaking on coronavirus (COVID-19)

Speaking at a news briefing in Geneva, The WHO director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in the virtual conference that the organization has been working with countries to set up safety guidelines for reopening. Although he went on stress that this would have to be approached with a high level of caution, to prevent a “deadly resurgence” in infections.

This however, is easier said than done in developing economies, where many families depend on income generated on day-to-day basis and stimulus packages are not available.

The Coronavirus Lockdown Situation in Nigeria

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the nation on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Abuja, Nigeria March 29, 2020. Nigeria Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

Following 4 weeks of lockdown induced by the coronavirus in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed what seemed like an inevitable consequence, when he stated that the restrictive measures had come at “a very heavy economic cost,” which invariably left the government with few options.

As a result, plans were set in motion to ease the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun state, and the FCT, starting Monday, May 4th, in an attempt to save the economy from completely plummeting.

While this is understandable from an economic perspective, several question marks have been raised from a public health stand point, and rightly so, as the country recorded an alarming 125% increase in number of active cases during the week leading up to the lockdown being eased.

A total of 1256 active COVID-19 cases were discovered by the NCDC between Monday 27th April and Sunday, May 3rd, compared to 556 the previous week, taking the country’s total confirmed cases to 2675, as at Sunday. If this upward trend is anything to go by, it sure seems like the number of new cases does not appear to be tailing off.

Consequences of Easing the Lockdown Prematurely

Although a few restrictive measures including curfew between 8pm — 6am, and the ban on large gatherings are still in place, many still fear that in the coming weeks, Nigeria could be faced with an exponential increase in active cases. Similar to neighboring country Ghana, who recorded a 60% increase in active cases 11 days after their lockdown was also lifted for economic reasons.

The lack of bed space in isolation centers and accredited hospitals across the country could create a “frightening scenario,” the Nigerian Medical association warned in a statement to the BBC.

While the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals, said “the deficit of health professionals and medical facilities would not be able to handle whatever upsurge that may arise due to the high incidences of community transmission”.

These comments paint a picture of a healthcare system that could be potentially stretched to its limits, if the relaxation of the lockdown results in an exponential increase in infections.

What are the Positives?

The situations is definitely not all doom and gloom, Nigerians can take solace in the fact that more people are able to return to work, and businesses are reopening. Hence, there will be less families at risk of not being able to provide the basics.

A general health consciousness has now been instilled in the population which did not typically exist pre-lockdown. Nigerians now carry an awareness in the back of their minds, of the consequences small actions like forgetting to wash their hands, may have on their health.

Is it tougher to stay protected now than during the lockdown? It definitely is, most especially for people who now have to return to work.

In the video below, Tremendoc resident Physician, Dr. Yewande Alebiosu, gives some useful advice on how Nigerians can stay safe even as the coronavirus lockdown is relaxed:

You can now speak with Dr. Yewande and 200+ licensed doctors online, with Tremendoc. Click Here, to get started.

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Lockdown messing up your sleep pattern? Try these 5 Tips

sleep pattern during lockdown

The coronavirus pandemic has cast the entire world, into a very uncertain and unfamiliar situation. Countless countries, are on lock down, economies are stagnant or moving at snails pace, and many people live in fear for themselves and their loved ones. As people are mostly worried about how soon a vaccine will be found, it’s understandable that the importance of a healthy sleep pattern might be overlooked by certain people.  

However, while we adjust to what is becoming the new normal, and try to remain healthy in a time of COVID-19, prioritizing sleeping properly can be of immense good. 

Sleep is an integral part of physical health and effective functioning of the immune system. It’s also an important component of emotional wellness and mental health, helping to manage stress, depression, and anxiety. 

Whether you’ve had sleeping problems before COVID-19 or if they’ve only come on recently, there are concrete steps that you can take to improve your sleep pattern during this global pandemic. 

1. Reserve Your Bed For Sleep

This means that working-from-home shouldn’t be working-from-bed. It also means avoiding bringing a laptop into bed to watch a movie or series. These habits condition the body into a state where it no longer recognizes your bed as the primary location for sleep, hence, adversely affecting your sleep pattern.

2. Set Your Schedule and Routine

Establishing a routine can facilitate a sense of normalcy even in abnormal times. It’s easier for your mind and body to acclimate to a consistent sleep schedule. When your sleep schedule is irregular, your body finds it a lot more difficult to fall asleep at the appropriate time.

3. Stay Active

It’s easy to overlook exercise with everything happening in the world, but regular daily activity has numerous important benefits, including improving your sleep.

4. Watch What You Eat and Drink

Keeping a healthy diet can promote good sleep. In particular, be cautious with the intake of alcohol and caffeine, especially later in the day, as both can disrupt the quantity and quality of your sleep.

5. Contact Your Doctor if Necessary

If you seem to be having prolonged trouble sleeping. We advise that you reach out to a doctor on Tremendoc, Nigeria’s top telemedicine app, and get a professional diagnosis on what could be hindering your sleep. Click here, to get the app for free now