top of page
  • Writer's pictureJese Reyes

When to Go to Urgent Care vs. the Emergency Room

The growing number of urgent care centers is a welcome relief to the healthcare system. Previously, patients were short of regular and outpatient medical options. Consequently, they had to endure long wait times in emergency rooms and other health facilities.

Now, patients have more treatment options, with approximately 11,000 urgent care centers available across the United States. Urgent care centers and emergency rooms are open for extended hours, leaving patients in a dilemma of where to seek treatment.

Urgent care centers offer treatment services for non-life-threatening conditions, whereas emergency rooms give service priority to patients with life-threatening symptoms.

Consider visiting a trusted urgent care center if you want quick medical attention to a normal medical condition.

When to Visit an Urgent Care Center

Urgent care centers provide basic healthcare services and treatment for many non-life-threatening emergencies. For instance, you don’t need to visit an emergency room for a minor cut or injury.

On the other hand, you should visit an emergency center when you have severe symptoms that require immediate attention.

Here’s when to visit an urgent care center based on medical condition:


Fever is a temporary rise in body temperature. It also indicates increased activity in the immune system as the body reacts to an infection. Although fever generally disappears within a few days, it is uncomfortable for adults and kids.

Depending on the cause of the fever, it is accompanied by other symptoms such as sweating, irritability, loss of appetite, and dehydration.

When to Visit an Urgent Care Center

  • Infants and Toddlers: Visit a doctor if your child is younger than 3 months and has a temperature above 38°C. For children between 3-6 months, visit a doctor if the temperature is above 38.9°C. If your child has other symptoms, including runny nose, diarrhea, and cough, visit an urgent care center sooner.

  • Children: There is little concern for children with fever, but they are responsive— taking fluids, playing, or making expressions. Even so, visit an urgent care center if your child has a fever that lasts longer than three days. You may also need to see a doctor if your child is irritable and vomits repeatedly.

  • Adults: If your body temperature rises above 39.4 °C, you should visit an urgent care center. You should also consider visiting an urgent care center if the symptoms are accompanied by severe headache, rash, mental confusion, vomiting, and pain when urinating.

Nasal Congestion

Anything that irritates your nose can cause nasal congestion or stuffy nose. The irritation triggers several reactions, including swelling, inflammation, and mucus production, making it difficult to breathe through your nose.

When to Visit an Urgent Care Center

Nasal congestion goes away within a few days. If the stuffy nose persists, you will likely develop a bacterial infection.

Visit an urgent care center if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Nasal congestion that lasts more than 10 days

  • Stuffy nose accompanied by fever

  • Nose mucus turns green or yellow and has blood in it.

  • A newborn has nasal congestion that prevents them from feeding

Broken Bone

A broken bone requires medical attention. Signs of a broken bone include pain, swelling, tenderness, inability to move body parts as usual, and a bump not usually in the body.

When to Visit an Urgent Care Center

Visit an urgent care center if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Intense pain

  • A bone that has pierced your skin

  • A body part is noticeably looking out of place

However, you should visit an emergency room if the broken bone results in heavy bleeding. You also need an emergency room if you suspect the fractured bone is the head, neck, or back.

Ear Infection

An ear infection results in swollen and blocked internal tubes, often leading to mucus build-up in the middle ear. Symptoms of ear infections include ear pain, trouble hearing, and drainage of fluids from the ear.

When to Visit an Urgent Care Center

Signs of an ear infection may be caused by several conditions highlighting the importance of accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment.

Visit an urgent care center if:

  • Symptoms last more than a day

  • The ear pain is severe

  • Your infant or toddler is irritable or sleepless after a cold

  • There’s a discharge of fluid, pus, or blood fluid from the ear

Enjoy Quick and Affordable Treatment at Lifeline Urgent Care Center

If your child develops a fever in the evening, you hope to see a doctor as quickly as possible. If you opt for an emergency room, you could waste crucial time in the queue, which may worsen the kid’s health.

To that end, consider visiting an urgent care center that opens for extended hours and exclusively treats non-life-threatening emergencies.

Lifeline Urgent Care Center has highly qualified, board-certified physicians ready to treat you.

Contact us online or call us at 281.771.1144 to book an appointment.

12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page