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Healthy Living

ER vs Urgent Care

Jul 7 2018

Ever wonder if you should go to ER or Urgent Care? Check this list for where to go for common ailments.

Summertime is a busy time for hospitals. Patients go there for everything from minor amusement ride injuries to burns from the barbecue. How do you know if you should go to your hospital’s emergency room or an urgent care center? If you have a medical problem, it helps to know when to go to the emergency room. But you should also know when to consider urgent care.

Breathing trouble

If you have trouble breathing, it may be serious enough to go to the ER. There are many conditions that can make it difficult for you to breathe. Breathing problems along with dizziness and other pain may mean you have a blood infection called sepsis. They could also be a signal that you have heat exhaustion or dehydration. An ER needs to look at these medical issues. If you feel like you’re about to faint, have someone take you to the ER right away. Breathing problems and fainting may also mean a drug or alcohol overdose. Or, you may have inhaled smoke or poisonous fumes that the ER doctors should treat.


Any sudden or bad pain in your arm or jaw may signal a heart problem. That needs ER treatment. A sudden, sharp and painful headache is usually seen in the ER. If you feel weak on one side of your body or face, that may mean you’re having a stroke. Call 911 immediately to go to the ER. If you fell and think you’ve sprained a leg, arm or your back, going to an urgent care center will get you the help you need.


A deep bleeding cut or injury, such as a gunshot wound, requires immediate help in the ER. However, an urgent care center can take care of minor cuts, burns and eye injuries that are harder to treat at home.

Broken bones

If you fall and see a bone poking through your skin, go to the ER as soon as possible. If you can’t see a bone but you think you may have broken one due to an accident, go to an urgent care center where they’ll treat the problem.

Bites and stings

It’s usually a minor problem if a bug bites or stings you. This kind of injury is easy to handle at an urgent care center. Even if you think you’re having a bad allergic reaction to a bite or a sting, an urgent care center can help you feel better.


A rash is usually not an emergency. An urgent care center handles common summertime rashes. The doctors and nurses at an urgent care center can also treat many rashes like those you can get from poison ivy or poison oak.

Other emergencies

Always call 911 if someone is choking or stops breathing. Vomiting blood is also an emergency. If someone is electrocuted, having seizures, suddenly can’t move or is having chest pain, then an ER visit is necessary. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, go to the ER.

There’s an emergency room near you. There’s also an urgent care center in your neighborhood. Visit to find out your closest location, and keep the information with you at all times.

Interested in more stories like this? Our Summer Survival Guide is full of healthy living tips to start your summer right. Learn more here.

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