Tag Archives: cold

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

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.



QUIZ: Could You Recognize Frostbite Before It’s Too Late?

Frostbite is a common winter danger that can lead to skin discoloration, dead tissue in the affected area, gangrenous infection or even amputation in severe cases. These are fates you certainly want to avoid while having your winter fun! So, how much do you know about frostbite? Let’s find out. Take a look at the statements below – are they true or false? Try to give the quiz a shot before looking at the answers below. You can write “T or F” for each number on a piece of paper and check your answers at the end. No scrolling down!

  1. You should put the frostbitten area in hot water to rewarm it quickly.
  2. The first stage of frostbite is called frostnip.
  3. Frostbite happens most commonly to the neck, arms and legs.
  4. Frostbitten areas usually change color drastically.
  5. Frostbite may feel like pins and needles in an area of your body.
  6. You must be exposed to freezing temperatures for at least an hour for frostbite to fully set in.
  7. The first visual sign of frostbite is hardened, bluish skin on the affected area.
  8. Frostbite can lead to blood-filled blisters.



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  1. If you are able to get to a warm place with running water, soak the affected are in warm (not hot) water for 30 minutes. This process will likely be painful, so taking OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like Advil can help with the pain and inflammation. (Do not try to thaw the area unless you are safely in a warm environment and know it can’t refreeze).
  2. Frostnip is a mild form of frostbite that usually doesn’t change the skin permanently if it is caught and treated early enough. It starts with color changes to the skin (from pale to red) and discomfort in the area. If you are noticing pain or tingling in your fingers or toes and the skin appears to be changing color, it is time to go inside and warm up.
  3. Frostbite most often affects the extremities (fingers and toes) as well as the nose, ears or cheeks (however, any exposed area can potentially be affected).
  4. The skin will change color depending on the various stages of frostbite. Usually starting with paleness, progressing to redness and finally to black or blue (you should definitely strive to avoid the last stage as it means the tissue has died).
  5. While sensations may be different for everyone, usually the first thing you will feel is extreme coldness, pins and needles or pain in the area.
  6. Depending on the temperature and wind chill factor, frostbite can actually begin in as little as 5 minutes of exposure to extreme freezing temperatures.
  7. The first sign of frostbite is usually pale yellowish or red skin on the affected area. The skin won’t turn bluish or black until advanced stages of frostbite when circulation is extremely limited and the subcutaneous tissue becomes frostbitten and starts to die.
  8. In the more advanced stages of frostbite the skin may start to feel warm and when the skin thaws, blood-filled blisters may develop in the area. Medical treatment should be sought if you believe you have experienced the latter stages of frostbite.

We hope you scored well on the test and are now equipped to recognize the early signs of frostbite before it can progress any further. Remember to stay safe in the winter cold! Thanks for visiting DocChat!


QUIZ – What’s Your Flu IQ?

How much do you know about the differences between a cold and influenza? Let’s find out. Take a look at the statements below – are they true or false? Try to give the quiz a shot before looking at the answers below. You can write “T or F” for each number on a piece of paper and check your answers at the end. No scrolling down!

  1. The flu shot can actually give you the flu.
  2. Influenza is only a bad cold.
  3. 20-30% of people who are carrying and spreading the flu have no symptoms.
  4. Antibiotics can treat the flu.
  5. You can catch the flu more than once.
  6. You can’t tell where or when the flu will strike.
  7. The flu is spread via contaminated droplets from a sick person to a healthy one.




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  1. FALSE. The flu shot will not give you the flu but getting a flu shot annually will drastically reduce your chances of catching influenza, a serious illness. You may have some side effects such as general malaise, but it is not the same thing as having influenza. It is only your immune system responding to the vaccine.
  2. FALSE. Influenza is much more than just a cold. While both are contagious respiratory illnesses, colds are much more common and less serious, generally affecting the nasal passages, throat and sometimes producing a mild cough or stomach illness. The flu often causes much more intense symptoms and can morph into life-threatening pneumonia. Another difference is that a cold can strike any time of year whereas the flu generally follows a pattern, striking during ‘flu season’.
  3. TRUE. Most people believe the flu can only be transmitted when a person is showing symptoms or actively sick, but that is not true.
  4. FALSE. Antibiotics are powerless against the flu as it is a virus. However, it is important to seek medical attention if you have the flu and your symptoms change or linger. Pneumonia or another serious bacterial infection can develop as a complication of the flu, requiring antibiotics and potentially hospitalization.
  5. TRUE. You can catch the flu several times during your lifetime, however, usually not right away as the antibodies produced while fighting it off will still be present for a period of time which may help you avoid catching it again too soon after.
  6. FALSE. There is predictive technology available to help people keep track of where and when the flu will strike. It is not a 100% sure-thing, but it will certainly help you prepare!
  7. TRUE. A person who has the flu can spread contaminated droplets to a healthy person via human contact, sneezes or coughs, or by cross-contaminating surfaces.

We hope you got 8/8! Check out our quiz on depression next. Thanks for visiting DocChat! Our board-certified physicians are standing by 24/7/365 to assist you with any medical inquiries.