When is time to consult a doctor for a cold?

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Overview

Ordinary colds usually disappear in a week or two, but if symptoms persist or worsen, your doctor should be consulted.

Colds are very contagious viral infection of the nose and throat. Most people know how annoying can be, especially when accompanied by congestion, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, fever and headache.

Although unpleasant, most colds are mild illness, which tend to heal in 14 days with or without treatment.

Infants and young children contact this virus more often than adults – usually between 6 and 10 episodes a year – and are more prone to fever and complications requiring medical assistance.


Contents

1. Overview
2. When we can say that a cold is more than just a simple cold?
3. Serious complications of colds
4. Cold symptoms requiring medical assistance


When we can say that a cold is more than just a simple cold?

If the cold lasts more than two weeks or recur, then allergies, sinusitis or other secondary infections may be the reason. Fever is also an important sign.

Usually, colds are not associated with fever. Adults with fever of 39 C or more children with higher body temperature of 38.5 C, should be checked out by a doctor.

If the child is younger than 3 months and has fever of 38 C or higher, the parent must call medical assistance immediately.


Serious complications of colds

Colds can influence the immune system, causing vulnerability to health problems, from ear infections, sinus and throat to bronchitis and pneumonia. Headache, fever and sinus pain may indicate a sinus infection that requires treatment.

If a person has symptoms such as chest pain, a cough eliminating sputum color, fever or respiratory failure should consult his doctor as soon as possible. If events occur rapidly, must immediately requested medical assistance.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV is a common virus that has the same effect as a common cold, but can cause severe symptoms in infants, young children and older people. Most people heal after RSV infection in one or two weeks, though the virus is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children aged below 12 months.

Signs of respiratory problems in infants include flaring nostrils, breathing faster than usual, muscle tension in the neck or blue color around the lips and toes (cyanosis). When a child has these symptoms should be rushed to hospital.


Cold symptoms requiring medical assistance

Most colds are trivial and do not require medical attention, but if signs and symptoms develop, it is necessary to visit a doctor.

In children:

- High fever or fever that lasts more than 3 days
- Symptoms lasting more than 10 days
- Shortness of breath, rapid breathing or wheezing
- Bluish skin
- Ear pain or discharge
- Lethargy, irritability or convulsions
- Cold symptoms that improve, but not for long, because they return with fever and strong cough
- Worsening of chronic conditions

In adults

- Prolonged high fever
- Symptoms lasting more than 10 days or worsen rather than improve
- Shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest
- Fainting or feeling faint
- Confusion or disorientation
- Persistent or severe vomiting
- Severe pain on the face or forehead
- Hoarseness, sore throat or cough that does not improve after 10 days.

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