Cold and flu season is in full swing during this busy holiday season, and many people may be looking for relief before family get-togethers. Most of the illnesses during this time of year are viral and will get better on their own with time. Medication to treat the symptoms of a virus are available, but it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for the virus to clear itself from your system. If a normally healthy individual is experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms for more than two weeks, it is important to seek care from their primary care physician, urgent care facility or emergency department.
Since this is the height of cold and flu season, this is the busiest time of year for care facilities and the time they see the highest number of patients. If you do spend time in a waiting room and have a cold or the flu, be careful to cough or sneeze into your elbow and make sure you wash your hands often. Some facilities will also provide you with a mask to help stop the spread of illness to other patients.
When unexpected illnesses or injuries occur, it is sometimes difficult deciding whether the condition needs treatment at an emergency department or urgent care facility. If an individual is experiencing a life-threatening situation such as symptoms of a heart attack, trouble breathing or a traumatic injury such as a severe fall or vehicle accident, call 911 immediately. The county’s emergency system will get you to the immediate medical attention needed. Urgent care facilities are also useful for individuals who have an illness, injury or other healthcare concern that would normally be seen by their primary care physician but are unable to get an immediate appointment.
Emergency departments operate and treat patients on a 24/7 basis, while urgent care facilities often have extended hours, including evenings and weekends. If you are experiencing a non-life threatening illness or injury, and do not suspect the need to be admitted to a hospital, seeking treatment at an urgent care facility may be right for you. If your condition is assessed an urgent care provider and determined to need emergency medical attention, they will make sure you get to proper treatment. Fortunately, Cone Health has an exceptional network of emergency departments, urgent care facilities, and a trauma care center dedicated to providing immediate treatment for individuals in the community experiencing unexpected illness, injury and other concerning health conditions.
Dr. Douglas DeLo is the medical director of the emergency department at MedCenter High Point. Dr. DeLo completed medical school at West Virginia University. He completed his residency at Geisinger Medical Center in Pennsylvania.