Health Female Adda
1 year ago
Common Symptoms, Easy Treatments

"Doctor's office, please hold."

We know -- you've been there. When you have an annoying little health problem, trying to nab a last-minute appointment with your M.D. can make you feel like Kathy Griffin elbowing her way into an A-list cocktail party. But there's a new option: walk-in mini-clinics, located in retail chains like Target, Walgreens, and CVS. In about 15 minutes and for an average of $59 per visit (or your co-pay -- a reputable clinic should accept insurance), a board-certified nurse practitioner or physician assistant will treat minor ailments -- no pleading, waiting, or fuming necessary.

Currently, there are over 500 mini-clinics nationwide, but that number's expected to climb to more than 4,000 by 2012. They aren't federally regulated, so each state controls the type of services that can be performed and decides whether a supervising M.D. must also be available. But even with a physician on call, mini-clinics aren't a substitute for your regular doc, because they don't have access to your medical records and can't provide long-term care, says Rick Kellerman, M.D., president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. They also aren't equipped to handle emergencies, so if you have a broken bone or can't breathe, go straight to the ER. But the next time you're faced with any of these minor health problems, try aisle 9 for a quick fix.

Colds and flu
Clinics will give fall and winter flu shots -- or, if you already have a cold, prescription-strength decongestants or flu-quashing antivirals.

Sore throat
A simple swab test can determine whether you have strep; if you do, clinics can prescribe antibiotics.

Allergies
If you get seasonal allergies and OTC remedies aren't cutting it, the staff can prescribe drugs like Allegra and Zyrtec. Not sure what's causing your reaction? See your primary doc for allergy testing.

Minor burns
If you've got a first-degree burn (think: your hand spent a nanosecond grabbing a hot pan) or sunburn, the nurse can bandage you or hook you up with painkillers and topical antibiotics. But if the skin is peeling off, or you've burned a large or sensitive area (near your eyes, your genitals), head to the ER.

UTIs
You still have to pee into a cup, though you can limit the misery of a long wait. But for vaginal issues like yeast infections, see your doctor for a pelvic exam.
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