Destigmatizing Seeking Help in Finding Medical Care

Back in the 13th century, the bacterial infection of leprosy was believed to be a punishment from above. People with the disease were thought of as stained or dirty and were shipped off to remote colonies to fend for themselves. Though today we know leprosy is spread through airborne droplets, to a degree, the stigma remains.

A stigma in healthcare is the labeling, separating, or stereotyping based on perceived ideas of a medical condition. Leprosy is far from the only condition to be thought of in a negative light through the ages. In the 1980s, HIV was highly stigmatized, and people living with the disease were shunned by both general society as well as the healthcare community. Those who suffered from the disease were looked down upon and even placed in separate hospitals for care.

Other diseases and conditions that are commonly stigmatized include mental illness, substance-use disorders, obesity, and skin conditions. Negative perceptions and beliefs about these health issues can lead to embarrassment and shame for the individuals dealing with them and prevent them from seeking help in finding care. This can not only lead to the worsening of the primary condition but can cause secondary issues that prevent people from living happy and healthy lives. While things are rapidly progressing as understanding of various conditions advances, stigmas are still problematic, often causing people to remain in the shadows. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of overcoming and abolishing stigmas when seeking help in finding medical care.

Finding a Doctor

Finding a non-judgmental doctor about medical conditions should be a piece of cake. In most instances, it is, but often, a person may hesitate to make an appointment with a new physician due to past experiences or how their condition has historically been perceived. However, these factors should not keep anyone from obtaining proper medical care. Doctor offices should be a place of refuge and support.

We are entitled to feel safe and entrust that our medical history and lifestyle will not be ashamed or criticized for being honest. While not all good doctors are bastions of compassion, we should expect a certain level of empathy and kindness as well. When needing help in finding a doctor who will not stigmatize or shame you, talk to trusted family and friends to see who they use; if you attend a support group, ask them for suggestions.

You can also go to the trusty internet, where you’ll find sites like Healthgrades and Rate My Doc, where you can find reviews on specialists from folks who have been patients. Things to look for in a supportive doctor include whether they are treating you the way they’d want their family members treated, do they ask questions rather than make assumptions, and whether they are culturally and socially sensitive to your condition. If you’re not comfortable with your initial appointment, keep searching. You deserve to feel at ease and confident that you receive the best care possible.

Seeking Dental Help

The dentist can be stressful if you go like clockwork every six months. Now imagine the fear and anxiety you’d feel if you hadn’t gone for years and had developed advanced tooth decay. Perhaps you couldn’t afford to go, maybe you dealt with a substance-use disorder, or possibly you had other things that saw you putting off proper dental care.

It’s one of those situations where the longer you put it off, the more awkward it becomes and the more worried you become about being judged. While those feelings are valid, the truth is that we sometimes conjure up scenarios in our heads when we get stressed. This shouldn’t prevent you from seeking help in finding the right dentist. Most of the time, a family dentist is very understanding, and they’ve seen just about everything. While this may not be a total comfort to your situation, try to realize that you’re not the first person a dentist has seen with your issue.

A good dentist will perform a comprehensive exam and consult with you about what’s going on and what can be done to remedy the situation. Unless you volunteer the information, or it’s medically necessary to provide treatment, a dentist should not ask prying questions or snide comments as to why it took you so long to see a dentist or what behavior led to having oral health issues. For instance, they may ask if you have a problem taking narcotics when prescribing pain medication.

This is different from asking if you let your teeth due to drug or alcohol abuse. Though most emergency dentists can ascertain the root cause, they usually focus on getting your teeth back in tip-top shape. So don’t fret about seeking help in finding treatment and making an appointment.

Refreshing Your Smile

Sometimes, we become self-conscious about our smile not because of tooth decay or gum disease, but for more superficial reasons like discolored teeth, a space, or a chip. Local cosmetic dentists are trained to deal with the unique situations that bring patients to them so you shouldn’t fear seeking help in finding them. They’re constantly educating themselves on social, environmental, and underlying health issues that can affect the teeth. You can give them as much or as little information as you’re comfortable with, but their primary concern is to help improve your smile.

A cosmetic dentist can perform teeth whitening, dental bonding, inlays (to conceal gaps), gum contouring, filing (to reshape teeth), and crowns. While their work isn’t typically covered by insurance, you can sometimes find client nicks and dental schools that will do procedures for free. Many people need cosmetic dentistry for a variety of reasons. It can go a long way in boosting self-esteem, so nobody should ever feel a stigma when using these services.

Correcting Dental Issues

When a dentist can’t remedy your issue, and it’s more than cosmetic, they may refer you to an orthodontist or oral surgeon to help solve your problem. In these cases, you can be confident that these exceptional dentists will treat your situation with dignity and respect. These specialists have chosen to deal with more unique dental issues and want to help you feel great about your smile. Like a general dentist, they’ve seen just about everything there is to see where mouths are concerned.

An orthodontist concentrates mainly on correcting misaligned teeth and jaws. They fix crooked teeth, spaces between teeth, overbites, underbites, and jaw issues. They may use traditional braces, Invisalign (removable braces), retainers, or other tools to help give you a fresh, new look. If you’re missing teeth or have advanced tooth decay that a general dentist can’t correct, you may be referred to a dental surgeon.

They can perform various procedures to help, including dental implant surgery. This is where decayed teeth are removed, and artificial teeth are implanted securely into the jaw. This is often a preferred option over dentures or bridges that can be uncomfortable, slip, and require a lot of maintenance.

Caring for Your Child’s Health

There should be no stigma involved when it comes to your child’s health. No matter what the issue is you’re dealing with, you’re not alone, and doctors are incredibly compassionate and understanding about conditions that affect young people. There’s no need to struggle with stigma when children are involved, so always seek help in finding care.

Sometimes, people feel they will be stigmatized because they are unable to pay for their children’s healthcare. The good news is there are many resources available for children when it comes to medical coverage. Don’t be afraid to reach out to social service agencies or even research online. Many states provide partial or even full coverage for children under certain ages.

In most cases, vaccinations, wellness visits, dental exams, and treatment for unique issues are covered. For example, you may not be familiar with the condition of ankyloglossia. In standard terms, it is called being tongue-tied; not the kind where you mix up words, but an actual condition where the tongue is connected to a thin layer of skin called the frenulum.

This can be a severe issue for babies as it can restrict their ability to breastfeed or latch onto a bottle. Luckily, there are plenty of doctors who can correct this disorder. While you won’t find a local tongue tie clinic around every corner, they exist. These clinics specialize in facial and oral malformations and offer a supporting, non-judgmental environment where you and your child can feel safe.

Minimizing Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is something that plagues almost everyone at some point in their lives. Whether it’s from a car accident, sports injury, age, or something else, it’s nothing to be ashamed of and one of the most common complaints doctors hear. Sometimes, however, even though we know our doctors are great and won’t judge us when it comes to pain, we often need help in finding the right care.

Like being our own worst critic, we will mentally kick ourselves for getting hurt, believing that we were somehow weak or at fault. We end up being embarrassed to tell the doctor what happened. For example, let’s say you were in the shower and threw your back out, reaching for the towel – you may think, “How foolish and embarrassing it was only a towel.”

Meanwhile, when you go for back adjustments, your chiropractor will see it from a neuromuscular standpoint. Chiropractor services are concerned with realigning your frame and helping you heal. The moral here is don’t be afraid to contact a healthcare provider if you’re in pain. The important thing is to be open and honest about how you are feeling and any fears you may have regarding pain management. They can design a treatment around your needs.

Creating a Healthier Life

Everyone deserves the opportunity to create a healthier life for themselves. Regardless of past practices or lack of help in finding medical care, once you decide to better yourself, you should be supported. Most healthcare providers take what they do very seriously, and their bottom line is to make and keep people well.

So, if you’re starting on the journey to a healthy life, start by researching doctors who are known for embracing that. Talk to your family and friends – see who they love. Don’t be afraid to look into alternative medicine for pain relief. Chiropractors, acupuncture, Reiki, and massage can work wonders if you seek an alternative or supplement to traditional medical techniques.

You may also want to consider eating healthier and starting an exercise program; many doctors and nutritionists are happy to help. If you’ve got some bad habits or addictions you’re struggling with, freeing yourself from them can be a massive step toward a healthier life. Don’t be embarrassed to speak with your doctor, join a support group, or seek therapy. It’s all part of self-care!

Investing in Your Body

Taking care of your body is vital, so it can care for you! If you’re not well, nobody around you can be their best either. So, caring for yourself is not selfish, greedy, or self-involved. We’re not discussing spending every weekend at a spa or taking off to an island, leaving the kids to fend for themselves.

We’re talking about taking the time and occasionally money to take care of that vessel, which allows us to get around and work, carpool kids, mow the lawn, cook meals, and so on. So go to the doctor when needed, and don’t worry about stigma – you’re a human. Inquire about hormone replacement therapy or male dysfunction medication; after all, they wouldn’t have it if there wasn’t a need for it! Ensure that you’re getting good food, exercising, on a consistent sleep schedule, and going to whatever therapy you may need. Don’t feel wrong about joining a gym or going for a massage; these things will make you healthier and happier, and that’s great for everyone around you!

Help in finding and receiving medical information is vital for everyone, regardless of the condition, how it developed, or an individual of freestyle. Healthcare should be a fundamental right, regardless of what someone needs treatment for. It’s up to the medical community and society to continue destigmatizing health conditions and offer more support to those in need.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply