The common cold can make you feel miserable, so you may wonder if you should go to your doctor for treatment that will help you feel better faster. In many cases, you simply have to wait out a cold until you feel better in a few days. Medications you buy at the drugstore can help with your symptoms, but time is needed for the cold to run its course. However, there are times when cold symptoms can be more serious, and that's when you need to see your family doctor. Here are some times when you should call your doctor for advice about your cold.
When You Have a Chronic Medical Condition
If you have asthma or another lung disease, your doctor may want to know when you develop a cold or any other illness. Your regular medications may need to be adjusted, or you may need to be monitored for complications more closely. If you've recently been diagnosed with cancer or some other disease, then talk to your doctor about what you should do when you feel cold symptoms coming on.
When You Feel Short of Breath
Coughing is common with a cold, but you shouldn't have to gasp for your breath or have wheezing that leaves you feeling winded. Shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest pain could be signs of a lung infection or bronchitis that needs to be treated by your doctor. Colds are usually caused by viruses, and that's one reason going to the doctor for antibiotics doesn't work. Antibiotics aren't effective against cold viruses. However, they are useful for fighting infections caused by bacteria that affect your respiratory tract. You may need antibiotics or other medications to help with pneumonia or bronchitis.
When Symptoms Linger for Several Days
A cold makes you feel miserable but fortunately a cold passes within a matter of days. If your cough lingers for several days, call a family doctor clinic such as Vidant Health for advice or an appointment. When you don't recover from a cold quickly, you might have a complication that needs medication to clear, and you'll want to see your doctor so you don't get worse.
When You Have a High Fever
You can have a fever with a cold, but it's usually low-grade. If your fever is high or if it lasts a few days, call your doctor's office. A high fever of 103 F or greater could be a sign of something other than the common cold, so you'll want to see your doctor. If you have a high fever along with a headache, stiff neck, or confusion, you should seek help right away even if you have to go to an emergency room.
You've probably had numerous colds in your life, so you know how they make you feel. When your symptoms seem unusual or severe, then call your family doctor. It's better to be safe and call for an appointment rather than be sick with a secondary infection and not seek treatment because you think it's a simple cold making you feel miserable.