Let’s face it: no one enjoys being sick. No one likes to feel uncomfortable and achy and feverish or in pain. But the fact of the matter is that the average American gets sick with two to four colds per year. No one likes getting injured either, but many Americans fall victim to a rolled ankle or crippling back pain at the worst possible times.
Whether you’re dealing with the flu or crippling pain, the fact remains that you need medical care. When that time comes, you might be tempted to schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor or head straight to the emergency room if the pain is severe enough.
Another option for medical care is to go to an urgent care; a walk-in clinic where you can get in quickly, get fast medical care and get treated for all kinds of non-life-threatening injuries and ailments.
The biggest question is which one do you go to? After all, if you’re feeling ill or in pain, you need medical care right way. The best thing you can do is to stop and take stock of your condition to determine which spot you should go to. The worst think you can do is over-diagnose or under-diagnose and be sent somewhere else for care.
So when should you go to the ER? Symptoms that are life-threatening and require advanced treatment should merit a trip to the emergency room. Symptoms that fit that bill include:
- Injuries to the head or eyes
- Weakness or numbness on one side of the body.
- Broken bones and dislocated joints
- Serious burns
- Severe symptoms associated with the flu or a cold
- High fevers that may include a rash
- In the case of women, pregnancy issues such as vaginal bleeding
- Chest pain and breathing difficulty
- Severe cuts that usually require stitches
- Changes in a person’s mental state
If you’re debating whether or not to go to the ER, the best thing to do is trust your gut. If you’re doubled over in pain and can’t move or you’re bleeding profusely, get to the ER right away or call 911 if you can’t get there yourself. You don’t want to take any chances or harm yourself trying to get there, so get to the ER if you deem it necessary.
But if you’ve got a non-life-threatening injury, consider an urgent care visit. Three million people across America visit them every week and it’s easy to see why they do so. Urgent cares are convenient, they’re quick and they save folks money. If you’re wondering what might warrant a trip to an urgent care, common symptoms include:
- Muscle strains and sprains
- Small cuts
- Fevers with no rash
- Moderate symptoms associated with the flu and the common cold
- Persistent diarrhea or persistent vomiting
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Moderate eye issues
- Ear infections
- Sore throat
- Moderate physical pain
Once again, the key is to trust your instincts. If symptoms are easy to diagnose or come on gradually, go to an urgent care instead of the ER. The average urgent care wait time is only about 15 minutes, they’re open later (usually until 7 p.m. or later) and you can also schedule check-ins online to reserve a spot in line. If you’re suffering from a particular ailment constantly, an urgent care shouldn’t replace the care offered by your primary care doctor, but there’s no question that urgent cares are very convenient.
But when you can’t get in immediately to see your regular doctor, urgent care facilities are your next best option or minor for a growing list of moderate medical issues. As if that wasn’t enough, urgent care clinics offer price transparency, which gives you a list of prices for various treatments before you pay a dime for anything.
When it comes to your health and the need for medical aid, don’t roll the dice on your health. If you’re suffering greatly, get to an emergency room right away. But for non-life-threatening issues, get to an urgent care to save time, money and the frustration of waiting.