Is Connect Care Right for Sinus Pain and Pressure, Eye Infections, or Ear Pain?

By William Daines, MD

Connect Care is a great way to get help for many urgent medical issues. While there are many things that can be done with a telehealth visit, there are some things—like a full physical exam and medical testing—that can’t. In some situations, a Connect Care provider might recommend going to an in-person visit to get the care you need. If that happens, you won’t be charged for your Connect Care visit. 

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Sinus Pain and Pressure

Providers can do a thorough evaluation in most cases of sinus pain and pressure.  They can discuss your symptoms and treatment options, including over-the-counter and prescription medications. Whether your symptoms are caused by an allergy, a bacterial infection, or a viral infection, Connect Care can provide a fast and effective evaluation of your sinus problems. Antibiotics aren’t always the answer for sinus pain and pressure, but if a prescription is warranted, your provider can issue one.

Eye Infection

Connect Care is a great place to get a preliminary evaluation for red eye symptoms. A red eye can be caused by numerous issues, ranging from allergies to infections and from minor to serious problems. If you are experiencing severe eye pain, significant visual impairment, or bleeding, or if you think there is a chance of a foreign body or trauma to the eye, you should be seen in person. If you don’t have any of those red flag symptoms, a Connect Care provider can discuss your symptoms, conduct a visual examination of the eye, and offer treatment based on the correct diagnosis.  Treatment might range from symptomatic care with over-the-counter medications to antibiotic drops in the event of a bacterial infection. If there are other concerning symptoms, we can help get you to the right care setting promptly.

Ear Pain

Connect Care can be used for a preliminary evaluation of ear pain, but due to limitations in the physical exam in a telehealth visit (for example, in most circumstances, we can’t see inside your ears), complete evaluation of ear pain in Connect Care is difficult.

Many patients with ear pain worry that they have a bacterial middle ear infection (known medically as “Acute Otitis Media”). In fact, there are many cases of ear pain that are not caused by bacterial infection. In the past, many patients (particularly children) with ear pain were treated incorrectly with antibiotics for ear pain, leading to problems with side effects and antibiotic resistance. Connect Care providers will not issue an antibiotic prescription for possible middle ear infection, but they can discuss how quickly you need to be seen in-person and how to treat symptoms leading up to in-person evaluation.

In the event of ear pain due to other causes (such as external ear infection or allergies), Connect Care providers can offer safe and effective treatment.

Connect Care is not right for you if:

You’re experiencing emergency symptoms

Connect Care is not intended for treatment of emergency medical problems. The American College of Emergency Physicians identifies several important symptoms that should lead to evaluation in the closest emergency department. If you’re experiencing any of the following, please call 911 or go to the ER:

  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure lasting two minutes or more
  • Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness
  • Changes in vision
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Confusion or changes in mental status, unusual behavior, difficulty walking
  • Any sudden or severe pain
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Suicidal or homicidal feelings
  • Unusual abdominal pain

You need a primary care provider or a refill of a prescription

Connect Care is a great way to get care for urgent care issues, but taking care of chronic health issues (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, and others) is not our main focus, so our providers do not generally issue refills of long-term medications. If you are in need of a refill of your ongoing medications, please contact your regular provider. If you are new to the area or need a new primary care provider for any other reason, please visit https://intermountainhealthcare.org/find-a-doctor/ to find a provider in your area.

You’re looking for pain medication or other controlled substances

As a matter of law, healthcare providers cannot issue prescriptions for controlled substances without seeing the patient in person. Because Connect Care visits are conducted over video, our providers are strictly prohibited from issuing these sorts of prescriptions. Commonly used controlled substances include medications for pain (hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, Norco, Percocet, Tramadol, etc.), anxiety/panic (alprazolam/Xanax, lorazepam/Ativan, clonazepam/Klonopin, diazepam/Valium etc.), and ADHD (Ritalin, Adderall, etc.). If you are in need of a refill of your ongoing medications, please contact your regular provider for refills. If you don’t have one, see the information above for help finding one.