There’s a lot of things to enjoy about the winter months, but what nobody enjoys during the wintertime is coming down with a cold. In fact, it’s estimated that Americans come down with a billion colds every year.
If you’re prone to getting a cold during the winter, you know well all the symptoms that might accompany a cold:
- An achy feeling in the body
- Runny nose or being stuffed up
- Sore throat
- A feeling of malaise
Generally speaking, common colds can be treated within about a week with common, over-the-counter medications. But as anyone who’s had a cold knows, sometimes those common colds turn into something more severe. Sometimes those colds turn into the flu or pneumonia or bronchitis. When that happens, you need to see medical attention.
You could go to the emergency room, but if you do you’re likely going to be in for a long wait and a big bill when all is said and done. Another—and much faster—option is visiting a local urgent care clinic in your area. What is an urgent care, you ask? An urgent care is a walk-in clinic that’s open later than your primary care doctor’s office—usually until 7 p.m. or later and on weekends—it’s a place where you can get in to see a doctor very quickly and it’s a place where you can get the care you need at a much friendlier price point.
More than three million Americans visit urgent cares from coast to coast each week and it’s not hard to see why. From common colds and ailments like bronchitis—in fact, in 2012 the most common urgent care diagnosis was upper respiratory conditions—to sports injuries to back pain to cramping to women’s health issues, your average urgent care clinic can do a lot to help patients who are dealing with non-life-threatening medical issues.
If you’ve been dealing with a cold for more than a few days, it’s best to get an urgent care as quickly as you can. Colds can usually be treated at home, but if they develop into something more serious (like the flu), you’re going to need more than pain relievers and chicken soup. The biggest difference between common colds and the flu is the duration (length of time) and the severity of symptoms.
Symptoms like fever, aches, sore throat and coughing are common in both sicknesses, but they are usually more severe with the flu. The flu is causes by a group of influenza viruses that cause the flu to develop quickly within a person’s body. You can get a flu shot before flu season hits to help your build up your body’s immunity, but if you’ve already got the flu, an urgent care can help come up with a treatment plan to help you get better.
That plan may include staying hydrated, making sure you get enough quality sleep, drinking hot liquids, using a humidifier and eating foods that will help improve your health (such as chicken soup). Some respiratory conditions are contagious and no one wins by trying to “wait out” an illness at home and doing nothing to try and get better.
If you’ve come down with a cold or the flu or bronchitis and common medicines aren’t really working, get to an urgent care facility. By not getting treatment, you’re not getting better and you risk infecting other people in your household. By visiting an urgent care, you’ll get in to see a doctor right away—wait times are usually about 15 minutes—plus you can check-in online to reserve a spot or you can call before you go to see what the wait time is like. You’ll be seen by medical professionals who will offer you treatment plans and care you need to get better. Ultimately, you’ll save time and money and the frustration of waiting. So don’t hesitate to visit an urgent care, it could just be the best choice you make for your health and you won’t have to spend weeks battling a pesky cold.