Tales From the ER: Know When Ghoulish Symptoms Aren’t As Scary As You Thought

 No one ever wakes up the morning and thinks, “Wow, wouldn’t it be a treat to go to the emergency room today?” Scary! You’re not feeling so hot, the wait can be long, (especially sitting in those waiting room chairs), and everyone else around you may have something worse—or more contagious. Talk about a nightmare!

There are times when going to the ER is the best option. Like the day before Halloween when my husband decided to get to that last minute decorating for all the kids to see. He was so hurried that he lost his balance and fell off the ladder. And onto a crack. And broke his…well he fractured several vertebrae . True story!

What about those times when you do not have to go to the emergency room? What if your primary care doctor, retail health clinic or urgent care clinic could have taken care of you without all the time and expense it takes to go to an ER? What if you could get that nagging pain addressed before it turns more severe? Your body and your wallet will thank you.

For most of us, not knowing what’s happening with our body can be frightening—and when it’s your loved one or your kiddo, it can be terrifying. It’s our first instinct to go to the ER to get answers. However, if your issue is not life-threatening, going to the ER will cost more money and time than using other available resources, such as visiting an outpatient clinic, urgent care facility or even making an appointment to see your doctor. And if you visit a freestanding ER , be aware (or beware when you see the bill,) that it may not be included in your plan’s network.

What gives? Emergency rooms prioritize patients. The most serious and severe are taken first. If you could be experiencing a life-threatening situation, you go to the front of the line and there is no waiting. And if you are that person who has a broken toe from dropping a hammer on your foot, you will wait until everyone else with a more severe injury is seen. If you have a stuffy nose or poison ivy rash, and it’s a Friday night, well, let’s just say you could be waiting a bit.

What’s freakier than sitting in that emergency room? Seeing that emergency room bill. That’s when the nightmare can hit you. Long after you have recovered, bills can trickle in.

Check out this list of some common, non-life threatening issues people have had in the ER along with suggestions on a plan of action in case you find yourself with one or more of these creepy symptoms.

 Sinus infections/Rhinitis
That seriously stuffed up nose can make you feel like you’re in a nightmare, but the real scare will come when you get the bill. When you have a sinus infection, going to a primary care doctor, retail health clinic or urgent care clinic may be your best bet. Follow your nose. If your symptoms progressed, or your dealing with a child, this issue may become serious.

Constipation
When you’re up to your eyeballs in it but can’t let it go, where do you go? Believe it or not, lots of people with constipation go to the emergency room. There are things your doctor can do to help you “out” – so start there. Much like sinus infection, there are levels of severity. If you are experiencing signs of bowel obstruction, your doctor will know where to send you.

Sore throat
Vampire got you by the throat? While it hurts, your sore throat may not need a trip to the emergency room. You may just need a checkup that you can get from a doctor, retail health clinic or urgent care center. If it’s more serious, they’ll know what to do. A nice garlic necklace may help, too .

 Wounds
Did you drive a pitch fork through your toe while fighting off zombies? Believe it or not, you may not need to spend the money to go to an ER. An urgent care center can handle X-rays, stitch you up and give you medication to fight any infection.

Other symptoms
Worried that you may have caught something from the guy on the bus? Or from that gal in the cubicle next to you? If it’s a serious condition that you think puts you in danger (of becoming a member of the zombie society), a trip to the ER may be needed. But for things like a head cold or chest congestion, see a doctor or visit a medical clinic first and soon.

So before you go, be sure you know your options for care. Plan ahead. If you ever need an ER, you should know where to go. And for those times when you need urgent care or fast care, but not emergency care, you’ll know what to do.

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