Severe cold or flu symptoms : Emergency Room
If you’re having severe cold or flu symptoms, you should definitely go to urgent care. Most coughs and sniffles that result from a common virus can be treated at home with rest and fluids—but if your body isn’t able to do that on its own, go ahead and seek medical attention. Any time you experience trouble breathing, chest pain, confusion or high fever (over 101 degrees), head immediately for a nearby emergency room. The symptoms of a stroke, heart attack or appendicitis can also require emergency attention—so don’t wait around if you think any of these conditions might apply to you.
If you’re suffering from nausea, vomiting, and severe dizziness, call 911. If you’re having trouble breathing or have chest pain, go directly to your nearest emergency room. While these are serious medical issues and shouldn’t be ignored, they aren’t life-threatening—and most can be handled by a doctor at urgent care. Minor cold or flu symptoms: Take some medicine, drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy food, and try to get lots of rest. Within a day or two you should feel significantly better. If not go see a doctor at urgent care because if it isn’t just a cold (or flu) there could be something more serious going on in your body that needs evaluation by professional doctors.
If you think you have a life-threatening condition such as a heart attack, stroke or severe asthma attack, go directly to an emergency room. A hospital can also treat less urgent conditions that would normally be treated at urgent care facilities—such as non-life threatening broken bones or cuts requiring stitches. However, there are times when you should consider going to an urgent care center instead of waiting for treatment at an emergency room. To find out when it’s best for you to seek treatment elsewhere, check out our list of 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Go to the Emergency Room .
Facial lacerations : Emergency Room
Lacerations on your face are usually pretty serious, as they can lead to infections, scarring, and disfigurement. To ensure that a facial laceration heals correctly and with as little scarring as possible, you should always go straight to an emergency room or urgent care facility. These medical professionals will clean out any dirt or bacteria in your wound and will also perform stitches so you don’t end up with an unsightly scar. Also, many health insurance companies will only cover facial lacerations if they were treated at an emergency room or urgent care center; going elsewhere could result in a large bill.
While these injuries may look serious, your risk of infection and additional injury is relatively low. Typically, a small laceration can be effectively cleaned in an urgent care clinic. A deeper wound may need stitches—you can find out more information about stitches here. In some cases, you may even want to consider putting off treatment until the morning if you have other pressing appointments planned for that day. In addition, it’s a good idea to practice consistent wound care by washing them twice daily with warm water and soap and rinsing well. If you notice that your laceration has not healed after three days or if it is still bothering you, call your primary doctor or visit an urgent care clinic immediately.
If your wound is bleeding a lot, if you can’t stop it from bleeding, or if it might need stitches, go straight to an emergency room. But if you get a clean (or mostly clean) laceration—one that does not involve any deep tissues like muscle or bone—you should be able to treat it at home with no problems. If that’s true for you and your injury isn’t too traumatic, then stay home and take care of it there. Don’t assume that because you want stitches immediately, they will want them immediately as well.
This is one of those odd instances where you don’t know until you see a doctor. For example, a laceration on your lip can be stitched up in an emergency room and patched with dissolvable stitches that dissolve over time. However, if it’s actually caused by another trauma—for example, a gunshot wound—you could require surgery to repair facial nerves, which would be much more expensive than having stitches put in. Before choosing how to treat your laceration, see if you have any other symptoms that might point toward an underlying injury (headache, light sensitivity). If not, then you should probably just go ahead and get stitched up at an urgent care clinic.
Severe cuts that may require stitches : Emergency room require stitches
If your cut is long enough that it might require stitches, go to an urgent care center. Urgent care centers are equipped with all of the supplies necessary for stitching up a deep cut or laceration. They also have physicians who can address more complex medical issues like fractures, dislocations and concussions. Another benefit? At urgent care centers, patients are generally treated within hours of walking in—as opposed to waiting days for an appointment at a hospital emergency room.
A trip to Urgent Care is your best bet if you have a cut that is relatively deep. Such wounds should be assessed by a professional, particularly if they could lead to serious complications such as infections or other long-term damage. In general, try not to leave deep wounds unattended for very long. A trip down to Urgent Care can save time and money and is better than risking infection at home (or worse). If you don’t have stitches or bandages handy, consider keeping a few in your first aid kit—you can buy small packages of them from any pharmacy or store.
If you’re just looking for some quick stitches and a bandage, chances are you can get that at your doctor’s office or urgent care. Same goes for things like broken bones—many emergency rooms don’t actually have X-ray machines on site, so they will likely just refer you somewhere else if they think it requires more attention than what they can offer. Plus, those big red ambulances aren’t just there for show; EMTs are specially trained and equipped to deal with situations in which time is of the essence—so if your issue doesn’t seem dire, go somewhere else! Less costly: It might surprise you that emergency room visits aren’t exactly cheap.