In the middle of winter: there’s no mistaking the signs of sickness: the sudden feeling of being very tired, the dry, itchy, scratchy throat, the congestion, the runny knows, the headaches, the aches in the body.
No one likes being sick and if you’re in the middle of a battle with the flu or a cold or unbearable pain, you’re probably wondering just what the heck you can do to get better; especially if over-the-counter meds aren’t doing the trick.
When that happens, the best thing you can do is get yourself to one of your local urgent cares as quick as possible. It’s been estimated that as many as three million Americans visit urgent cares around the United States and they do so for many reasons; urgent cares are easy to find, easy to deal with, very convenient and get Americans the care they need.
If you’ve never visited an urgent care, think of it as a sort of go-between with emergency rooms on one end and primary care facilities on the other side. If you’re looking for quick relief for common issues including colds, the flu, pain, sports injuries, sprains, strains, STD testing and many other ailments that don’t necessarily require a trip to the ER or a primary care appointment, urgent cares are the way to go.
If an urgent care clinic sounds like a good idea at this point, there are certainly many benefits to visiting one. But here are some things you should know before you go:
- Find the right center: In many cities, urgent cares are as common as fast food joints and churches. One of the best things you can do is get familiar with where urgent cares are in your area. You also want to find out which urgent care facilities accept your insurance. Also be advised that there are urgent cares that specialize in certain kinds of medicine including pediatric care and women’s health.
- Check in ahead of time: It’s true that urgent cares can do a lot to help a lot of folks in need, but the truth is that a lot of people visit them every single day. So even though urgent cares are walk-in clinics, you might still be in for a little bit of a wait, depending on how many people are ahead of you in line. If you’re really needing to see a doctor ASAP, the best thing you can do is check-in for a time online. That gives you a reserved spot and your wait time should be considerably shorter. If you’ve got a busy schedule or are feeling ill, checking in early can save you more time than you might think.
- Pick the right time: Checking in and reserving a time for an urgent care appointment can save time, but picking the right time can save you even more time. Fortunately, urgent cares are open until 7 p.m. or later. Many are even open on weekends. If you can wait it out—no matter how sick you’re feeling or how much pain you might be in—you might be able to visit, get in and get right out. The best thing to do is call and check on wait times.
- Bring important information: Urgent cares may be helpful, but you should get into a habit of replacing them with your primary care doctor. One of the biggest reasons is because urgent cares don’t know your medical history. So be sure to bring all pertinent medical information with you, like medical history and proof of insurance.
- Don’t go for emergencies: There are plenty of instances where you should absolutely go to the ER right away; severe burns, deep cuts and concussions are just a few reasons. But for minor injuries and ailments, visit an urgent care. If your symptoms are too severe, you’ll be referred to the ER.
You may not know it, but the list of ailments and common injuries your local urgent care can treat seems to grow by the day. For all your cuts and colds and scrapes and bruises, urgent cares will get you the care you need and back to everyday life.