Having a primary care provider is so important for your overall health, but it is not always the first place you need to visit depending on your situation. Your primary care provider is someone you have built a relationship with over time and has a lot of insight about your medical history that no other doctor has. When you visit your primary care provider, even if for a quick check-up, they also ask you questions about your life at home and work pressures, your physical habits, and emotional needs in additional to collecting numerical data about your health. I may seem like small talk, but your primary care provider is gathering information that has a profound impact on your health and may be useful when assessing something that troubles you down the road. Your primary care provider knows you and that is invaluable. However, if you have an illness that needs attention right away, you may not be able to get an appointment with your primary care provider, in which case you need to decide if you need to go to urgent care or the emergency room.
Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room
If you are having a medical condition that need immediate attention, first ask yourself if it is a life-threatening situation. Life threatening conditions are a sure sign you need to go to the emergency room. Symptoms that need emergency attention include excessive bleeding, chest pain, extreme pain, trouble breathing, or broken bones. There are other conditions that require attention immediately but are not life-threatening. Urgent care is a great option for non life-threatening emergency situations like a sprained ankle, an ear ache, sore throat, fever less than 104 degrees, a rash, or a burn. Typically, urgent care centers have extended hours and are on a first come, first serve basis. However, if you have a specific ailment that is not an emergency, the best option is to see a specialist.
When to see a Specialist?
There are specialist doctors for just about everything. There are everything from Ear, Nose, and Throat doctors to foot and ankle doctors, such as Dr. Donna Barrese, DPM East Windsor Lawrenceville Foot & Ankle. If you have an emergency with your heart, seek immediate help from a cardiologist. Also if you are having a stroke, or suffer from brain or spine trauma, these are emergency situations, but consider calling a specialist, like the ones at Atlantis NeuroSurgical Specialists. There are doctors that specialize in allergies, called immunologists. Dermatologists are skin doctors that can treat moles, scars, acne, or other flareups. If you are having digestive problems or abdominal pain, you can want to see a gastroenterologist. An obstetrician and gynecologist specialize in women’s health, providing care for pregnancy to pelvic exams. If you visit your primary care physician with a specific ailment, he or she will most likely refer you to a specialist, so take some time to do a little research for a specialist in your area to get right down to business faster.