It's nothing you haven't heard. They've said it before. But somehow, some people are not getting the message:

"The emergency room is really designed for emergencies," Dena Mashburn with the Knox County Health Department said, again.  

This time of year, it's even more important. The first few months of winter are already a busy time for emergency rooms--and that's made harder by people who really don't need to be there. 

"It doesn't surprise me that people think 'I'm dying, I got to get there,'" Mashburn, the health department's director of nursing, added. 

But going to the ER when you don't need to can have a ripple effect. 

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"If you're going, you're potentially holding people back from getting the care that they need, you could spend a long time waiting at the ER," she said.  

Already this year, ambulance company AMR said it's seeing longer wait times as ERs deal with higher volume. 

A change made last January to send less-advanced "basic life support" ambulance crews to some calls was supposed to be a temporary fix, but the health department says it is still in effect. 

Nurses know, the flu isn't fun. 

"Your hair hurts when you have the flu, everything hurts, you're achy. It's a total body cold," Mashburn said. 

But unless you're having unusual symptoms like trouble breathing, dizzy spells or severe pain, you can likely tough it out at home. 

"Drink lots of fluid, get plenty of rest, keep yourself out of the public, and you can usually get through it," she said.  

If you are concerned symptoms could be more serious -- consider heading to an urgent care or walk-in clinic before the ER.