Maybe you took a bad tumble during a friendly basketball game, and you haven’t stopped seeing stars since — or maybe you walked away from a car crash, but you feel confused, dizzy and a bit sick.
In either case, you could have a concussion, a traumatic injury caused by the brain slamming against the inside of the skull and damaging its delicate tissues.
If you do have a concussion, you should seek medical help immediately — but what does that entail?
What To Do If You Think You Have a Concussion
Symptoms for concussions range widely; you don’t need to faint or have headaches to rightly suspect you are suffering from a concussion.
A medical professional will help you determine whether you have been concussed and what you can do to help your brain tissues heal fast.
The first step to getting your concussion medically treated is knowing which medical facility to go to. Specifically, should you go to urgent care or the ER for your concussion? Hospital emergency rooms are equipped to handle all sorts of medical problems, including concussions, but they will also cost you thousands of dollars in bills. Typically, an ER is only a good option if there are no urgent care facilities nearby or if you are suffering extreme symptoms from your concussion, like loss of consciousness or inequal pupil sizes, or if any symptom remains persistent for a stretch of time. Otherwise, you should be able to find an urgent care center in your area that will be able to treat your concussion effectively.
The medical professional you visit will begin your visit with a series of tests to determine first that you have been concussed and then the severity of the concussion. The first of these examinations is a neurological checkup, which tests a variety of senses non-invasively to determine the concussion’s effects. You will also likely incur a cognitive examination, which will entail questions that test memory, awareness and other brain functions. Finally, if your care provider deems it necessary, you may be sent for imaging tests like a CT scan or MRI, which will show the extent of the damage to your brain. If your concussion is serious enough to warrant a trip to the ER, you will likely be held overnight for further observation by doctors, who will continue to assess your symptoms.
Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that cures a concussion. Instead, physical and mental rest is the most commonly prescribed treatment. Your doctor will likely tell you to avoid any activities that bring on symptoms, especially any sports or vigorous movements, but you might also want to avoid playing video games, reading or performing other activities that require mental concentration. You can slowly introduce these activities as your symptoms improve, but you should only do so at the recommendation of your doctor.
Though “rest” seems like a treatment you can administer on your own, it is crucial that you seek medical attention for your concussion. After all, you only have one brain, and if there is something more seriously wrong with it, you want a doctor to identify that problem and provide more appropriate treatment for it right away.
It’s important to note that concussions — or any medical problem with your brain — are not easily fixed with medication or surgery. While a concussion might feel like a relatively benign injury that you quickly and easily recover from, in truth concussions can have serious, persistent effects on your well-being. Athletes who are at risk of frequent concussions, especially those in contact sports like American football, hockey, rugby, basketball and boxing, can suffer extreme long-term health problems,e.g. memory problems, depression and changes to personality. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes who suffered frequent concussions and typically died young. While few people suffer long-term effects of concussions — meaning you should expect to recover fully from your concussion — it is wise to avoid whatever caused your concussion in the future.
To prevent suffering another concussion — which will increase your risk for long-term effects and CTE — you should always wear well-fitting protective gear (especially helmets) during recreational activities. In fact, it’s a good idea to use safety precautions no matter where you are or what you are doing, from wearing a seatbelt in the car to ensuring your home is well-lit and free from tripping hazards. Strength training exercises for your legs and core will keep your body fit, so you can avoid dangerous tumbles.
Choosing An Urgent Care Provider
Sometimes, you need a doctor immediately. However, getting an appointment with your normal primary care doctor could take several days and most emergency rooms have extremely long wait times. For this reason, an urgent care center could be the best option for you when you fall ill suddenly.
Despite what many people believe, it is to your benefit to have a regular urgent care practice that you visit when you can’t get into a doctor’s office on short notice. Going to the same urgent care practice allows them to have all of your information in one place and saves you time instead of being required to fill out a new form each time you visit a new center.
Advantages Of An Urgent Care Center
One major advantage of urgent care centers is that they are open beyond most regular office hours. If start to get sick later on in the day or you were unable to get off work (despite being ill), these extended hours could serve as a viable option for you to still receive a medication to help your infection improve.
Additionally, most urgent care centers offer broader services than a normal physician could, yet they hire a significant number of family physicians. What this means is that you could receive the broad scope of services that are offered at an emergency room, but you could see a family doctor that you become familiar with.
Why It Matters That Urgent Care Centers Employ Family Doctors
One main reason that people dread going to an emergency department for treatment is due to the long wait time, but it is also due to the fact that you are going to be seeing someone who is a stranger and trusting them with your health when you are feeling like you are at a lot point. Most people feel uncomfortable with this and would prefer to visit someone that they are familiar with when they are feeling extremely sick.
In the United States, it has been found that nearly more than 95 perfect of all urgent care centers have a physician on staff. Seeing the same person each time will allow you to build trust with this medical professional, and you’ll be more willing to trust their diagnosis. This can be especially important with young kids since sometimes going to the doctor can be a rather scary experience in the mind of a child.
Urgent Care Centers Are More Cost-Effective Than ER
Another advantage to visiting an urgent care center is their cost-effectiveness. Understandably, urgent care centers become most busy during the winter months. This is a time when it can be extremely hard for patients to get into see their doctor and emergency room waiting times also tend to sky rocket during these months. Research has found that a visit to an urgent care center is less expensive than a visit to an emergency room.
With all of the advantages of urgent care centers, do not allow yourself to be discouraged if you cannot get into to see your normal doctor this winter! Instead, find a regular urgent care center near you.
A concussion might feel like a minor health issue, but left untreated, it can have lasting effects on your life. By knowing more about what you can expect during medical diagnosis and treatment of a concussion, you should be more inclined to seek medical support and recover fully from this traumatic event.