Signs That Your "Cold" Deserves A Doctor's Attention

Posted on: 29 April 2019

"It's just a cold." This is the response you'll get from many people — and perhaps even from your own reasoning — when you develop respiratory symptoms like sneezing and a runny nose. And it's true that most colds are not a big deal and don't really require a doctor's care. However, what starts as a cold can easily progress to a more serious illness that does require professional care. How do you know that your illness has reached the point of requiring medical care? Watch out for these signs.

A Lasting Fever

A fever generally indicates that you have something more serious than a cold, such as the flu, bronchitis, or pneumonia. If the fever is mild and goes away when you take a dose of ibuprofen, that's one thing. But if the fever lingers for more than a day or does not respond to medication, that's a good reason to see your doctor.

Serious Sore Throat

Mild throat soreness is common with a cold. However, throat soreness that makes it painful to even swallow or breathe often indicates that you have strep throat, or perhaps tonsillitis. It can be really tough to stay hydrated with a sore throat. Plus, strep can spread through your body if it's not treated with antibiotics — so definitely don't let this symptom go unaddressed.

A Piercing, Dry Cough

A cough that produces mucous, also known as a wet or productive cough, is not a huge concern as long as it's not causing you serious pain. A dry cough that seems shrill, causes you serious pain, or makes it hard to even catch your breath could mean you have bronchitis or pertussis. Your doctor can prescribe anti-coughing medications to make you more comfortable so your body can heal and you can get some rest.

Chest Pain

Absolutely see your doctor if you develop chest pain during a respiratory illness. Chest pain is often indicative of pneumonia or bronchitis. Bronchitis can progress to pneumonia if not treated, and pneumonia can be deadly. Your doctor will likely order chest x-rays to diagnose your condition. Most cases can be treated with antibiotics. If your pneumonia is severe, you may need to stay in the hospital for a few days to recover.

What starts as a cold does not always stay a cold. If you develop any of the respiratory symptoms above, contact your family doctor for an appointment.