Nobody plans to get sick. Sometimes the flu or a cold just happens and it becomes an inconvenience to perform your everyday activities. Maybe you were involved in a minor accident and you got a sprained ankle. If you have children you know how common it is for them to fall and get cuts injuries that, although they’re not life-threatening, can be dangerous not to seek for a medical opinion. That is where urgent care comes in. urgent care is a very efficient way to get medical attention.
These are some of the benefits of going to urgent care:
- Urgent care centers are usually easier to find, you might have one closer to your location than an actual hospital.
- The waiting time is much lesser than the emergency room.
- It is the best place to solve timely issues
So, whenever you’re debating if you should go to the Emergency Room or make a doctor’s appointment you will probably be fine receiving urgent care. Read ahead to find out about some of the most common reasons to visit urgent care. If you want to know the difference between a regular appointment, Emergency Room, and urgent care, read our article: When to get a regular appointment, urgent care, or emergency room
#1 Cold and flu
Upper respiratory infections are some of the common afflictions among the population. This means that the flu and colds are common illnesses year-round. Most people do not seek medical professionals to treat them, however, it might be important to get a doctor’s opinion.
For instance, they can help you know if you’ve developed an infection and you’ll need antibiotics or if you’ll be fine with anti-viral medication to treat the symptoms. Also, taking into consideration the Covid-19 pandemic, it is better to make sure that a cold is just a cold and that you haven’t contracted the coronavirus.
The flu and colds are the most common reason to visit urgent care because they’re not life-threatening but they’re unexpected illnesses that can complicate if you don’t get proper treatment and rest. Most people can’t wait until a specialist has time to see them in their office and most cases only require simple treatment.
#2 Sore Throat
A sore throat can mean many things. Maybe you just tired your voice by talking too much or screaming, or maybe you’re developing an infection. Who can tell? A doctor at urgent care.
A sore throat can also be a symptom of the flu or a cold, however, it is placed a whole other reason when it is a reason on its own to visit urgent care. Some people get sudden sore throats because of their work (teachers usually strain their voices a lot), but it may also be an early symptom of mononucleosis, which is an infection that you definitely want to catch early.
Also, some people might get a sore throat as well as developing some ear infections. Throat infections and ear infections come hand in hand, that is why checking what’s going on in your throat can be a motive to visit urgent care.
#3 Sprains and strains
Anyone can have an accident. If you exercise regularly or do a sport, it might not be uncommon for you to be involved in some minor accidents. But also, some people are just prone to falling while doing their usual activities. It is normal, accidents happen and sometimes our joints might get hurt.
Having a sprained ankle won’t kill you but it will keep you from doing your daily activities with ease. When you sprain or strain any muscle you should visit urgent care. No one but a medical professional can accurately tell you if your injury requires more than just some icing. Getting to urgent care will help you to get the attention that you need and not worsen the injury by ignoring the pain, recuring to pain killers, or binding it up in the wrong way.
#4 Upset stomach
Having any kind of stomach ache can be uncomfortable but when you also have vomiting or diarrhea it becomes an issue you want to attend to as soon as possible. As it happens with the flu and the common cold, the stomach is also a common unexpected illness that can be nothing serious but that will make you feel bad enough to keep you from your daily activities.
A stomach ache can simply be a reaction to eating something that wasn’t in the best conditions. However, it can also be the flu, another kind of infection, or food poisoning. To prevent dehydration or further complications you should visit urgent care.
#5 Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
If you’re asking yourself: should I visit an urgent care for a UTI? The answer is yes. A urinary tract infection is not life-threatening, however, you might want to check it has no relation to a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Because in that case, the UTI might just be a symptom of another illness that needs some other treatment.
You should especially visit an urgent care unit for a UTI if the symptoms have been persistent for several days. Sometimes, really minor UTIs go away after one day but if your symptoms are persistent you better get it checked.
#6 Rashes, bites, and stings
An allergic reaction can require a visit to the emergency room if you’re having trouble breathing. But when it comes to the skin you might want to visit urgent care rather than the E.R.
Some allergic reactions present in the form of rashes and can be uncomfortable but not life-threatening. Also, any kind of sting or bug bite that isn’t making your body into anaphylactic shock can be checked in urgent care. There a doctor can determine if you’ll need any medication and make sure the stinger isn’t inside your skin.
We would like to emphasize that if you happen to have a serious allergy that could make your body go into anaphylactic shock and you suspect that a rash is a symptom of it, by all means, go to the E.R. This advice just applies to people who maybe have had a rash for a few days without any new developments or got bitten or stung and just need a quick check-in.
#7 Cuts, scrapes, and minor burns
Most accidents leave a mark. Sometimes it is too small to even put a band-aid on it, a paper cut for instance doesn’t require much care. However, sometimes accidents can be a little bigger, not life-threatening but big enough to need medical attention, that is when you should visit urgent care.
Anyone can have an accident at work or even at home doing chores. It is not unusual for kids to have accidents while playing. It is very common to have accidents in the kitchen that involve knife wounds or burns. However, the most dangerous room in a house is the bathroom as The New York Times reports: Watch Your Step While Washing Up
Accidents in the bathroom will most likely require some sort of urgent care.
Again, it is important to remember the rule of thumb: if you feel like your injuries need medical attention but you’re not in imminent danger by them, then go to urgent care. Any wound that needs stitches, proper sanitization, or medicine to heal up is a good reason to visit urgent care.
#8 Broken Bones
A broken bone might sound like an emergency, but it is only if the bone is sticking out of the skin. A broken bone is very painful, however, it is not life-threatening, therefore, it is an urgent care kind of injury.
Also, broken bones need a proper diagnosis. To get an x-ray and determine if a bone is broken or you’ve suffered from a sprain or strain, you’ll need to visit urgent care. usually, in urgent care clinics, they already have the equipment to properly diagnose a broken bone. Also, given that a broken bone is very painful, you’ll not want to wait in an E.R where your injury will not be a priority.
A very common eye infection is conjunctivitis, also known as Pink Eye. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these are the common symptoms of conjunctivitis:
- Pink or red color in the white of the eye(s)
- Swelling of the conjunctiva (the thin layer that lines the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid) and/or eyelids
- Increased tear production
- Feeling like a foreign body is in the eye(s) or an urge to rub the eye(s)
- Itching, irritation, and/or burning
- Discharge (pus or mucus)
- Crusting of eyelids or lashes, especially in the morning
- Contact lenses that feel uncomfortable and/or do not stay in place on the eye
To learn more about conjunctivitis you can read this CDC article: Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
The symptoms of conjunctivitis are very uncomfortable and do require medical care. It is also contagious so it is the most responsible thing to do to seek medical attention.
#10 Heat Exhaustion
During the summertime, it is not uncommon for people to suffer from heat exhaustion. If you were doing some work in your garden and feel ill afterward, if your children have been playing all day outside and they feel a bit dizzy later, you should visit an urgent care for heath exhaustion.
It is usually not a big deal, however, it is important to make sure you’re not dehydrated. Also if you got sunburned, it is important to check if they didn’t reach a second-degree level and what kind of treatment they might need to heal.
Conclusions about when to visit urgent care
Urgent care is an option for illnesses and injuring that aren’t life-threatening but require treatment as soon as possible. Minor injuries, burns, broken bones, and common diseases such as the flu are some of the most common cases seen in urgent care. At urgent care you can also access these services:
- Camp, school, sports and work-related physicals
- Flu shots
- Drug and alcohol screenings
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