Know Where to Go When You Need the Right Care

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Ti­fani Ki­nard

It’s not al­ways easy to know where to go to seek treat­ment if you aren’t feel­ing great or if you have in­jured your­self, es­pe­cially if it’s at night or on the week­end when your doc­tor may not be in.

If the sit­u­a­tion is not life-threat­en­ing or is not caus­ing ex­treme pain, it’s al­ways bet­ter to make an ap­point­ment to see your pri­mary care physi­cian. There are rea­sons your reg­u­lar doc­tor, if you have one, is your best op­tion. If you don’t see a physi­cian reg­u­larly, you should def­i­nitely make that a pri­or­ity.

A fam­ily doc­tor can get to know you and can help you stay healthy by pro­vid­ing an­nual check­ups, screen­ing and other pre­ven­ta­tive health ser­vices. Pri­mary care doc­tors strive to de­velop a re­la­tion­ship with you in an ef­fort to un­der­stand and track your health his­tory.

Also, if you have chronic con­di­tions, such as asthma or di­a­betes, your doc­tor can help you man­age those so you don’t be­come sicker. Your pri­mary care doc­tor can also re­fer you to a spe­cial­ist if your con­di­tion re­quires a more spe­cific treat­ment plan.

That be­ing said, there are likely go­ing to be times when the un­fore­seen oc­curs. You get sick or you are in­jured and you can’t wait to see your doc­tor. That’s when a visit to ur­gent care or the emer­gency room might be nec­es­sary.

In gen­eral, a trip to ur­gent care is rec­om­mended for the fol­low­ing con­di­tions and symp­toms:

♦ First or sec­ond-de­gree burns

♦ Colds, cough or flu

♦ Eye, ear or skin in­fec­tions

♦ Frac­tures

♦ Mi­nor cuts, bruises and abra­sions

♦ Res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions

♦ Strains or sprains

♦ Uri­nary tract in­fec­tions

But keep in mind the doc­tors you see at an ur­gent care cen­ter don’t have an es­tab­lished re­la­tion­ship with you and won’t know your med­i­cal his­tory. That’s why it’s so im­por­tant to have a pri­mary care physi­cian who sees you on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

There are also times when it might be nec­es­sary to call 911 or get some­one to take you to an emer­gency room. In gen­eral, emer­gency room vis­its should be re­served for any­thing that re­quires im­me­di­ate med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Emer­gency Physi­cians, the fol­low­ing 12 con­di­tions fall in that cat­e­gory:

♦ Dif­fi­culty breath­ing, short­ness of breath

♦ Chest or up­per belly pain or pres­sure last­ing 2 min­utes or more

♦ Faint­ing, sud­den dizzi­ness, weak­ness

♦ Changes in vi­sion

♦ Con­fu­sion or changes in men­tal sta­tus

♦ Any sud­den or se­vere pain

♦ Un­con­trolled bleed­ing

♦ Se­vere or per­sis­tent vom­it­ing or di­ar­rhea

♦ Cough­ing or vom­it­ing blood

♦ Sui­ci­dal or homi­ci­dal feel­ings

♦ Dif­fi­culty speak­ing, or numb­ness or weak­ness in any part of your body

♦ Un­usual belly pain

There are ad­di­tional con­di­tions and symp­toms that also re­quire emer­gency at­ten­tion in­clude:

♦ Poi­son­ing

♦ Drug over­dose

♦ Loss of con­scious­ness

♦ Ma­jor burn

♦ Spinal cord, head, or brain in­jury

♦ Se­vere al­ler­gic re­ac­tion

♦ A fast heart­beat (more than 120 to 150 beats per minute) at rest, es­pe­cially if as­so­ci­ated with short­ness of breath or feel­ing faint

♦ A bro­ken bone with skin pro­trud­ing through the skin

♦ Drown­ing

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