While the last thing anyone wants is an illness or injury to spoil their fun, there are a number of ailments that are more common during the warm weather months that may leave people wondering where they should go for medical attention.
This includes health matters like bug bites and illnesses caused by the heat and sun, or even injuries associated with sports and playing outside.
When this happens, it’s common for people to wonder where to go for medical help.
Should I go to an emergency room? Should I call my primary care provider and make an appointment? What if it’s an urgent need after hours, then what? And will it cost more to go to one place or another?
Many variables factor into the decision, including just how sick or ill you or your loved one may be, the distance to your health care provider or who is available to address your medical need. Here are some tips about when you should consider visiting what type of medical facility, as well as common conditions treated at both.
When to visit the right expert
Your health care provider should be your first destination for non-emergency care. It’s a good idea to be aware of your clinic’s hours (including weekend hours), phone number and address.
Urgent care is a good choice for receiving non-emergency care when your primary care provider isn’t available, such as after hours, on weekends or on holidays.
Lastly, when you have a serious medical condition that requires immediate attention, seek care at an emergency room or hospital. Call 911 if the situation is life threatening. If you call 911, emergency responders are trained to react quickly and communicate with your destination emergency room before you even arrive.
What to visit for
Here are some general rules for what conditions are commonly best suited for urgent cares versus emergency rooms. Remember that these are general rules, if you are having a medical emergency, a call to 911 and visit to an emergency room are always the best options.
Urgent care
¦ Animal bites; if the animal is a personal pet and up-to-date on its rabies shots (all other animal bites need emergency room care)
¦ Bug bites
¦ Bladder infection
¦ Broken bones (non-emergency)
¦ Coughs, congestion and sinus problems
¦ Cuts, scrapes and minor lacerations
¦ Ear infection
¦ Fever
¦ Minor burns
¦ Pink eye or other minor eye problems
¦ Rashes and other skin conditions
¦ Respiratory illness when breathing is not labored
¦ Sprains and minor injuries
¦ Other non-emergent health concerns that can’t wait for an appointment with your doctor
Emergency room
¦ Abdominal pain
¦ Changes in mental status, such as confusion
¦ Chest pain or pressure, and heart palpitations
¦ Coughing or vomiting blood
¦ Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
¦ Extreme pain, especially if the cause is unknown
¦ Headache
¦ Stomach pain
¦ Loss of consciousness
¦ Pain that’s sudden or severe
¦ Severe burns
¦ Severe head pain or injury, including loss of vision
¦ Severe vomiting or diarrhea
¦ Sudden dizziness, weakness, changes in vision or loss of consciousness
¦ Suspected poisoning or drug overdose
¦ Uncontrolled bleeding
¦ Children under 3 months who need immediate care should also be taken to an emergency room
¦ Allergic reactions with facial swelling, problems swallowing or difficulty breathing
¦ Pregnancy complications
The emergency room is designed for conditions that are truly life threatening. A good rule of thumb is to avoid it for lesser problems.
The last factor people should consider is cost. Generally speaking, a trip to the emergency room may cost you more, depending on insurance options.
It’s important to keep all these factors in mind as you navigate the health care needs for you and your family.
Dr. Rachel Chaltry is an urgent care physician at Aurora Bay Area Urgent Care, 4061 Old Peshtigo Road, Marinette. Urgent care reservations can be made at www.aurora.org/MarinetteUrgent.