An individual with common cold does not need to consult a doctor. In most cases, one can become sick for a week and then the symptoms subside. The viruses are usually self-limiting and antibiotics do not help. Common cold eventually subsides without care thus the symptoms can be managed.
In some cases, common cold can progress into something more serious and requires an appointment with a doctor. Some individuals might have an underlying health condition such as asthma that can increase the risk.
Potential factors to seek medical care for common cold
Persistent cough or changes in the cough
When it comes to common cold, cough can also occur. In most cases, it is usually dry and can last for a few days. If the cough changes from dry to wet or fever manifest or lasts for more than 2 weeks, a doctor should be consulted. Make sure to check for all the potential reasons when to consult a doctor.
A sore throat is not unusual if an individual has common cold. In most cases, it is quite minor and can be triggered by irritation in the throat due to postnasal drip. If the sore throat is painful, it is best to consult a doctor.
A stuffed and runny nose is one of the indications of common cold, but it should not last longer than a week or two. If the congestion persists or becomes sore, a doctor should be consulted.
Fever is not common with common cold among adults but can occur frequently among children. If the child has a fever that does not subside after fever reducing medications were given, a doctor should be consulted.
When it comes to fever, it is rarely something to be worried about and not dangerous, but the doctor might want to examine the individual to check if the cause is other than common cold. If a child is below 3 months old and has fever over 100.3 degrees F, seek medical care right away.
Unusual or severe headache
A headache is considered uncommon with common cold. It is characterized as dull and can occur due to pressure from the congestion. Nevertheless, if the individual experiences an abrupt, intense headache or accompanied by neck stiffness and pain, seek medical care right away.
Difficulty breathing in children
When a child becomes seriously sick from respiratory infections such as the flu or common cold, it is usually due to issues with breathing. It is not always evident when children experience trouble breathing, thus it is best to be aware on what to watch out and how to tell.
Children might be smiling or playing but could not get enough oxygen. Remember that just because the child is not evidently struggling for air does not mean that they are breathing properly.
Symptoms subside and recur at a worse state
Take note that this often occurs once an individual developed a secondary infection. If the individual has common cold or a respiratory virus for a few days and starts to feel better for 1-2 days and the severe symptoms recur, a doctor should be consulted.
Most cases of common cold do not require medical care, but being familiar when to seek medical care is also vital.