5 Signs You Should Go to Urgent Care Instead of the ER

Deciding where to go for a sudden or persistent medical issue can be scary and confusing. You might not be sure if what you’re experiencing will go away or if it requires medical intervention.

The main reason patients choose a trip to urgent care over the ER is shorter wait times and lower costs. And while some illnesses and injuries are best treated at an ER, others can be swiftly and affordably treated at an urgent care facility.

Below are five signs your health concern is better suited for a trip to urgent care instead of the ER.

1. Your Medical Issue is Not Life-Threatening

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if an injury is a sprain or fracture, but neither are life-threatening issues and can be diagnosed within a short doctor’s visit. Non-life-threatening issues should still be taken seriously and be treated by a medical professional when necessary because they can cause future health issues. But you don’t want to wait hours in the ER and pay far more just for confirmation that you should ice your foot and stay off of it for a few days.

However, you don’t necessarily need to seek help for these conditions at an ER. Injuries like sprains and a twisted ankle are a common reason to visit urgent care facilities, like Urgent Care Wake Forest NC, and receive attention for non-life-threatening muscle or bone injuries promptly.

2. You’re Experiencing Flu-Like Symptoms

A cold or the flu can typically be treated at home with over-the-counter medicine, but persistent symptoms can be a sign of an upper respiratory infection. This can also be a sign of something more serious like pneumonia, which is also characterized by body aches, chills, and a fever.

The symptoms are similar, so it can be hard to determine the cause without a formal diagnosis. You don’t want to ignore these symptoms, so it’s best to get checked out quickly by a physician in an urgent care clinic. Waiting to see if flu-like symptoms go away can turn into a major illness that takes months to recover from.

If an urgent care physician determines it’s the flu, they can prescribe antiviral medication to clear up the symptoms sooner. You won’t have to wait as long to receive the same treatment that you would in the ER.

3. You Think You Have a UTI

A UTI is a common reason women seek out urgent care services. Approximately 50-60% of women will develop at least one urinary tract infection in their lifetime.

Waiting to see your primary care manager is not always an option because they’re booked out weeks in advance, and waiting in the ER can take hours. The physician at the urgent care clinic will evaluate your symptoms and run a urinalysis screening before prescribing antibiotics.

Urinary tract infection symptoms can clear up within a week, but they can become serious if you do not receive medical care and antibiotics.

4. You Are Under 55 But Experiencing Mild Chest Pains

Experiencing chest pain at any age can be frightening. If you’re otherwise healthy, under the age of 55 (the age of increased heart attack risk in women), and have no familial history of heart disease, you might consider visiting urgent care.

You don’t want to ignore these symptoms because you are not considered to be in the high-risk category. Chest pains can sometimes be a symptom of a more serious condition and should be checked out as a precaution.

If you think you may have pulled a muscle from recent heavy lifting or went overboard with last night’s takeout, a physician at an urgent care facility can help determine the cause of the chest pain.

5. You Need Emergency Contraception

Women can visit urgent care facilities to receive emergency contraception after having unprotected sex or an accident with alternative birth control methods.

Emergency contraceptive is intended to be taken within 12-24 hours following sexual intercourse but can still be taken up to 120hours after. However, it does lose effectiveness the longer you wait.

Before you make the trip, verify the urgent care center you intend to visit supplies emergency contraceptives and will prescribe them to you. Some physicians refuse to carry it or will turn away patients due to their religious affiliation.

Get Checked Out

You know your body better than anyone else, but sometimes it’s easy to disregard warning signs as small issues not worth checking out. Never ignore any symptoms that are a cause for concern.

It’s better to be safe and take a trip to urgent care for any issue that might seem silly rather than wait for symptoms to become an obvious emergency.