Please remember that this is NOT medical advice!
Emergency rooms or A & E departments are busy places, but people often go with complaints that don't require urgent treatment. Many conditions can be treated by your doctor or in an Urgent Care center. If you head to the emergency room with a non-urgent problem, you'll not only be wasting your own time, but more seriously you'll be taking up the time of the staff at the emergency room. And if you live in a country that doesn't have universal healthcare, an emergency room visit will be costly. So here are some problems that you don't need to go to the emergency room for …
Would your immediate thought be to go to an emergency room if you suffer an injury? Use your judgement and consider if it really constitutes an emergency. Minor injuries such as sprains and cuts don't qualify; if they really need treatment, go to your doctor, or to an Urgent Care center if you can't wait. The latter can also treat many broken bones.
Surely people don't go to the emergency room with a cold? Sadly, there are people who think that they should (bristolpost.co.uk). Colds are very definitely not life-threatening for the vast majority of people, and even your doctor can't cure them - time is the only cure! Flu is unpleasant, but unless you fall into a high-risk category there is no need for treatment.
Most fevers don't need emergency treatment. But if a newborn baby develops a fever, or the patient has a rash, that is more serious and may necessitate an emergency room visit. Other possible alarm signs are severe headaches or a stiff neck. If any worrying symptoms occur along with a fever, speak to a doctor.
Earache may be uncomfortable, but it's very unlikely to require emergency treatment. The first port of call should be your pharmacist, and then your doctor if the problem persists. He or she can prescribe any medication or treatment, and refer you on to a specialist if necessary. But most earaches won't last that long.
The best treatment for sunburn is not to get it in the first place! If you do get it, it's definitely not an emergency, so get some sunburn cream and chalk it down to experience. Minor burns are best treated by holding under cool running water for 10 minutes. You can then apply ointment, but don't break any blisters.
You're better off seeing your dentist if you have toothache. There's nothing an emergency room can do if you get toothache in the middle of the night. Either wait it out until your dentist's office opens, or call an emergency dentist (but be prepared to pay).
You might need a prescription for antibiotics if you or your child has a urine infection. You don't need to go to the emergency room though. See your doctor instead.
Many illnesses are of short duration and will resolve themselves with rest and fluids. If you do need to see someone, Urgent Care centers are often the best option if you can't wait until your doctor's office opens. These are clinics that provide treatment for minor injuries and non-emergency situations. But if you're ever in doubt, call your doctor's office or an Urgent Care center to ask whether you need to head to the emergency room; don't avoid the emergency room because you don't want to bother anyone. Better to be safe than sorry. Have you ever heard of a silly reason for going to the emergency room?