What Is Urgent Care?

A young girl lays on the sofa holding a tissue. Her mother checks her temperature.

When you don’t feel well or need medical care fast, it’s important to know where to go to get the best service at the best price. If you’re wondering, “What is urgent care?” or “Can urgent care help me?” then you’ve come to the right page.

Urgent care facilities specialize in diagnosing and treating medical conditions that aren’t life-threatening but are serious enough to require same-day medical attention. If your symptoms are gradual, or you already know the diagnosis (for example, you have repeat urinary tract infections or your child has repeat ear infections), then you should call your primary care physician’s office first to see if you can get a same-day appointment. Not only is your primary care physician familiar with you or your child’s health history, but they will also know which treatments are the most effective. They will also be aware of any pre-existing medical conditions that need to be taken into consideration.

If you are unable to get a same-day appointment with your primary care physician, your local urgent care is a valuable resource to help you get the medical care you need. Amory Urgent Care is staffed with physicians, physician assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, and other medical staff, so we can safely treat fractures, ear infections, colds, flu, bladder infections, burns, and more. We’re also equipped with onsite vital diagnostic technology like digital x-rays and electrocardiogram (EKG) as well as an onsite lab for blood tests and urinalysis.

In the past, there were only two choices for medical care: your primary care physician or the emergency room. Now that there are so many free-standing emergency rooms, it can get a little confusing.

Free-standing emergency rooms cost the same as hospital emergency rooms. Urgent care facilities cost significantly less. Why? Emergency rooms are equipped to treat life-threatening injuries and illnesses. Seeking care in a facility designed for that level of medical care comes with a high price tag. Urgent care facilities, on the other hand, are designed to deliver medical care at a lower cost by offering people only the care they need.

When should I visit urgent care instead of an emergency room?

Urgent care facilities are a great alternative when your primary care physician isn’t available. Not only are they typically open after regular business hours, but they’re also open on the weekends. Urgent care facilities are ideal for treating conditions like:

  • Small cuts that may require stitches
  • Minor fractures
  • Sinus infections
  • Ear infections
  • Bladder infections
  • Minor ear injuries
  • Flu or severe colds
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever and headache
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Rashes

Urgent care facilities also provide additional services like return-to-work and sports physicals, vaccines, and IV fluid hydration.

When do I need to go to the emergency room?

While urgent care facilities offer flexibility, convenience, and care at a lower cost, there are several medical conditions that should be treated in an emergency room because they may require rapid or advanced treatments (e.g., surgery) that are only available in a hospital or emergency room setting. If you’re experiencing any of the following, visit your emergency room immediately:

  • Chest pain or difficult breathing
  • Weakness or numbness (on one side of the body)
  • Slurred speech
  • Fainting or a change in your mental state
  • Serious burns
  • Head or eye injury
  • Concussion
  • Broken bones with dislocated joints
  • Fever with a rash
  • Seizures
  • Severe cuts that may require stitches
  • Facial lacerations
  • Severe cold or flu symptoms
  • Vaginal bleeding with pregnancy

Whether you’re visiting your primary care physician, an urgent care, or emergency room, it’s a good idea to bring a list of all the medications you currently take (and the dosage), including any over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. It’s also a good idea to make a list of any allergies you have as well as previous medical procedures and their date(s). This information is extremely helpful for the physician or nurse practitioner treating you.

Visit Amory Urgent Care for safe and compassionate medical care without the wait. We can help you get the answers and help you need quickly, so you can begin feeling better fast. We welcome walk-in appointments 7 days a week.