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6 Signs You May Have More Than ‘Just a Cold’

Written by Courteney

Posted on January 27, 2017 at 2:00 pm

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We all know a cold is no more serious than a miserable week of snots and sneezes courtesy of a viral bug. So, there’s no need to go to the doctor over a cold, right? Well, that depends. If it really is just a cold, you should be fine with plenty of R&R, some over-the-counter helpers and hot liquids, but what if there is something more serious at the heart of your symptoms? Several conditions that may require prescriptions can mimic cold symptoms, such as a sinus infection, bronchitis (which can be bacterial), pneumonia or the flu. Let’s take a look at some indicators that it may be time to see a doctor about your ‘cold’:

  1. Your sniffles just won’t let up – if your congestion has extended beyond 10 days and is accompanied by a severe headache, you may have a sinus or respiratory tract infection. Sinus infections that appear to be bacterial by nature require antibiotics. If the doctor suspects it is viral, he or she may wish to prescribe inhaled corticosteroids to help ease swelling or irritation of your sinuses.
  2. You have moderate joint or neck pain – Muscle and joint pain is more commonly associated with influenza than the cold. Influenza is more serious than the common cold and can even be life-threatening. Severe neck pain accompanied with cold-like symptoms could indicate another serious illness as well: bacterial meningitis. So, if you are experiencing unusual pain along with the cold, don’t mess around!
  3. You’ve had a dry or productive cough for weeks – A simple cold shouldn’t cause a cough any longer than a week or so. If you’ve been coughing or bringing up mucus for weeks, you could have bronchitis (which sometimes requires corticosteroids), influenza or even walking pneumonia. It is important to get a nagging cough checked out.
  4. Your mild fever has gotten worse – Sometimes a cold may cause a fever, but usually it is very mild and resolves quickly. If your mild fever has turned into a more serious one (103 or higher for adults), or it has been hanging around for more than 3 days, you should check in with the doc. A rising fever could indicate a flu, pneumonia, or an infection elsewhere in the body.
  5. You have stomach symptoms – Some people believe stomach upset can go along with the common cold, but a cold usually only involves the head and throat. If you’ve been having diarrhea or have been vomiting for several days, you should seek medical attention as you may have food poisoning, a type of influenza, or another underlying medical condition.
  6. Your symptoms are hanging on longer than 10 days – The bottom line is that cold symptoms should clear up in a week to 10 days, so if you’re still plagued by a sore throat, congestion or a cough any longer than a couple weeks, you should be medically assessed.

Since it is so easy for a ‘harmless cold’ to turn into something more serious, it’s a good thing that the doctor is only a video call away and always in! Thanks for visiting DocChat, we hope you’ll come back again soon.

 

 

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