Whether you have an inexplicable rash or difficulty breathing, we've all had a medical scare. In some cases, emergency care was what was needed, but in other cases, a visit to urgent care suited just fine. Urgent care is a wonderful after hours medical care option or place to go if you need convenient care that's urgent, but a non-emergency. Though the urgent care center market is fairly fragmented (per HealthCare Appraisers), that also means that there's likely an urgent care center in your area that's easily accessible. They can allay fears of how to treat shortness of breath, abdominal pain, or any other minor illnesses or injuries that might crop up. They can also recommend you to a specialist if their solutions for how to treat shortness of breath aren't working or they suspect that you need more intensive care.
How to Treat Shortness of Breath
Initial suggestions on how to treat shortness of breath might be to try pursed lip breathing, which slows down how quickly you're breathing, making every breath you take deeper, and therefore, more effective. You might also try supported breathing -- either standing or sitting.
However, if your shortness of breath isn't going away, your doctor might prescribe a bronchodilator to relax your airways. If you're asthmatic, staying away from triggers, getting extra oxygen, and quitting smoking can all help. Sometimes shortness of breath is because one is anemic, in which case, iron supplements can help.
Certain lifestyle changes may also assist in reducing shortness of breath. Staying away from pollutants or allergens if you can, eating well, and getting enough sleep can help resolve any medical issues that might be contributing to shortness of breath. And losing weight can also help if you're obese or overweight.
The Benefits of Urgent Care
In the United States, there are over 7,000 active urgent care centers, that see on average, around 12,000 patients a year. The number of urgent care centers has grown in recent years, in part because of the benefits they offer to those seeking medical care.
Urgent care often offers extended hours -- during the morning and in the evening -- and often on weekends or holidays, which many doctors' offices can't accommodate. This allows patients to seek medical care when something urgent arises and can't wait until the next appointment, or to fit in medical care when it's more convenient for them.
Furthermore, as doctors' offices and emergency rooms see increasingly longer wait times, in their 2016 Benchmarking Report, the Urgent Care Association of America reported that over 90% of urgent care centers had wait times of a half hour or less in 2015. Most people can be in and out of an urgent care center within an hour.
Urgent care often works with multiple insurances as well and can cover a wide range of minor illnesses and injuries. In some cases, they might have X-ray capabilities or be able to administer physicals for sports, schools, or other institutions that require them.
When to Go to Urgent Care
Some urgent care centers may also partner with an emergency room, so you don't have to choose one or the other -- you can simply head to one building and get your needs taken care of. However, a good rule of thumb is to remember that urgent care is for urgent medical situations -- not life-threatening ones -- whereas the emergency room should be reserved for emergencies.
Medical conditions that need to be seen and treated with some urgency (like a urinary tract infection or a bad case of the flu, for example) are perfect for an urgent care center to handle. However, there are signs of a heart attack or stroke, the person is unconscious, or bleeding heavily, you should go straight to the emergency room.
Urgent care centers are an increasingly important part of our healthcare system, helping to take the strain off emergency rooms in many cases, and offering affordable, accessible care where it's needed. Knowing where your local urgent care center is ahead of time can be immensely helpful.
In 2016, 27% of patients in the United States stated that they had been to an urgent care clinic within the previous two years. There are many benefits that urgent care treatment offers, and Health Advocate's blog lists three of them.
The Urgent Care Association of America's 2016 Benchmarking Report found that in the previous year, 92% of all urgent care clinics consistently offered wait times that were 30 minutes or less. This is especially important to patients with busy schedules.
If you need non-life threatening treatment after normal business hours, the extended office hours of an urgent care facility are very convenient. To make things even easier, you can also come to an urgent care clinic on a walk-in basis.
Individuals visiting from out-of-town most likely aren't near their primary care physician. With over 9,000 urgent care centers across the country, these facilities are nearby to provide treatment if you become ill or injured during a trip.
The majority of insurance companies will cover a visit to an urgent care clinic. However, it's still wise to check with your insurance provider and determine which centers in your area are in-network.
The fees for a visit to an urgent care facility is usually comparable to the cost of a visit to your primary care doctor, and typically less costly than going to an emergency room for treatment.
3. Comprehensive Treatment.
In 2015, the most commonly diagnosed illnesses at urgent care clinics were acute sinusitis, acute upper respiratory infection, coughs, acute bronchitis, and acute pharyngitis.
Nevertheless, urgent care centers are well-equipped to provide prompt care in many other cases. Physicians working in urgent care facilities are inclined to have comprehensive knowledge that enables them to handle a wide range of medical situations. For instance, flu treatment and assistance with other minor illnesses is available. Minor sprains, fractures, and other injuries can be treated at urgent care facilities as well.
For individuals with hectic schedules, or those requiring immediate care outside of regular office hours, urgent care facilities provide convenience, affordable fees, and comprehensive care such as flu treatment. These are benefits well worth considering when you need prompt medical assistance.
As a patient, you have several options available to you for convenient medical treatment. If you are not facing a true emergency but cannot wait to be seen by your regular physician, urgent care facilities may very well be your best option. But it's important to note that not all urgent medical care centers are created equal. Some are independently run, while others are affiliated with hospitals or with universities. The quality of care offered may differ as well as the costs and convenience. It's essential to evaluate an urgent care center prior to visiting so you can benefit fully from this convenient medical treatment option. To that end, we'll discuss factors you should keep in mind before choosing an urgent care facility.
What Considerations Should You Keep in Mind When Evaluating Urgent Care Clinics?
Before you head to an urgent care clinic, you'll want to consider these factors. This can allow you to choose an excellent facility that can provide you with the treatment you need, exactly when you need it. To learn more about our services, please contact us today.
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