When is it OK to visit your doctor with a common cold?

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We’ve been told often enough that visiting the doctor with a common cold, is not only a waste of time, but there are no medications or antibiotics that they can prescribe, because it’s a virus and it will go away on its own. However, sometimes what we think is a cold, can turn out to be something else entirely. So, what do we need to look out for to make this distinction?

The Common Cold

The usual symptoms of a cold range from sneezing, coughing, having a runny nose, sore throat, headache and maybe a temperature. After about a week, the common cold has normally run its course, although you might be left with a runny nose for a little while longer.

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When To Get Further Advice

If You Have Trouble Breathing or Chest Pain

If your chest is hurting or you can’t breathe very well, these symptoms are not usual for the common cold. You    should seek medical help as soon as possible, as they could be signs of a more serious illness such as pneumonia, asthma or even heart disease.

Your Temperature is Not Improving

If your fever is not being brought down by paracetamol or is not showing signs of easing then this should be investigated further by a doctor. There could be another infection present in the body, which will need to be examined and treated. A temperature or fever is classed as such when it is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

You Cannot Keep Any Liquids Down

When the body is not being hydrated at all, complications can set in, so hospital treatment may be necessary. Fluids can be administered through an IV drip to ensure your body is getting the hydration it requires.

When Swallowing is Difficult

We don’t just mean that it hurts a little to swallow, this is normal for the common cold. If your throat is so sore that it is painful, then it could be a sign of another infection such as tonsillitis, strep throat or pharyngitis, which may need antibiotics.

Your Cough is Still Severe

As your cold diminishes, so should your cough. If it continues or is getting worse, then it could be post-nasal drip, which can be treated with antihistamines. There are other possibilities, such as asthma or gastroesophageal reflux disease, which will need to be examined by a medical professional. A more severe cough could be whooping cough, especially if it’s been going on for weeks, so ensure you get this checked out.

Headache and Congestion Remains

If your head is still sore and you still feel congested around your nose and cheeks, then it could be a sinus infection. If you are feeling no better by taking cold medication, then visit your doctor to get treatment.

If anything seems to be out of the ordinary with what you think is a common cold, please make sure that you get specialist advice as soon as possible, to avoid the risk of complications.