Most of us get colds on an annual basis, and they are typically nothing to worry about. If you have a healthy immune system, you should be able to naturally recover from a cold within 10 days. And, in most cases, you can still go to work and carry out your everyday duties. That said, there are times when it becomes more severe and can limit your ability to function. These are the times when a cold is concerning.
Just so you know, here is a list of common, harmless symptoms of a cold:
- Nasal congestion
- A sore throat
- A mild headache
- Mild body aches
These symptoms are the result of the virus attacking your body. Your airways start producing more mucus and become sensitive in order to encourage coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
But what should you do if you experience other symptoms? Alternatively, what if the symptoms don’t go away or become more extreme? In these cases, it’s likely that you have more than a cold. You may want to see a doctor if this is the case. Below are just some of the signs that a cold is concerning.
You’ve Got a Fever
Your temperature is likely to rise a bit while experiencing a cold. However, you shouldn’t have a high temperature (anything over 101 F). This is a sign that you may have the flu, Covid, or some kind of bacterial infection.
Influenza viruses are much more likely to make you uncomfortably hot and tired. It might get to the point where you feel too weak to get out of bed. Symptoms like a sore throat, coughing, and nasal congestion may still accompany the flu. I recommend calling a doctor or getting tested if your temperature goes over 101 degrees F or if you have had a fever for over 4 days.
Bacterial sinus infections (including ear infections) may also result in many cold symptoms but are normally accompanied by a high temperature. They are more likely to be accompanied by pain in a certain area where the infection is taking place. Seeing a d0ct0r, in this case, might be a wise choice.
You’re Nauseated or have Diarrhea
You shouldn’t experience stomach problems with a cold. Such symptoms are much more likely to be experienced with the flu.
Nausea or diarrhea could be a separate health problem alongside a cold in some cases. You may have developed a separate stomach bug while fighting off a cold. Alternatively, you may be experiencing food poisoning. A stomach bug shouldn’t last any more than 48 hours, while food poisoning symptoms are usually over within 6 hours. Food allergies and intolerances could also be a cause. Stomach issues shouldn’t last any more than 48 hours. If they do, you may want to consult a doctor.
You’re Experiencing Chest Pain
One of the times when a cold is concerning is if you’ve got a bad cough and chest pain, it could be something other than a cold or flu. You could have an infection in your chest which can be concerning. Any chest pain that doesn’t resolve warrants a trip to the doctor to be checked out as soon as possible. If pain is sudden or intense emergency treatment is likely needed.
You’re Having Trouble Breathing
Not being able to breathe properly is scary and is a sure sign that a doctor’s visit is in order. Chest infections can often result in asthmatic symptoms that could leave you wheezing. This can happen with a chest infection or some viruses like Covid. If you are gasping for breath, emergency treatment is needed. If you can’t get to a hospital yourself, call an ambulance.
If you already have breathing issues and these have been made worse by a cold, you may want to consider seeing your physician. You could have a respiratory disease or there could be an obstruction somewhere in your airways. If the obstruction is in your nasal cavity, you might require more extensive treatment such as a nose job for a deviated septum.
It’s Painful to Swallow
Be concerned about a cold if you find it painful to swallow. Painful swallowing could affect your ability to eat and it could be a sign of something more serious. A throat infection that hasn’t improved could require antibiotics or other treatments. A doctor can diagnose it and give the proper intervention.
Your Symptoms Are Sudden
A cold usually comes on gradually over a couple of days. If you’re suddenly sneezing or wheezing, you may be experiencing an allergic reaction. Though the symptoms can mimic a cold, an allergy to the environment or a certain thing can be quite alarming and can wreak havoc on our lives.
Acute cold-like symptoms in spring and summer are often the result of hay fever. Pet allergies can also result in sudden cold-like symptoms. These allergy symptoms can often be relieved by taking antihistamines (or an inhaler if you are wheezing). More serious breathing issues may require emergency treatment.
Congestion Lasts for Longer Than 10 Days
The common cold normally lasts a week to 10 days. If you are an adult in relatively good health, your body should be able to kick it within this timeframe. Ongoing congestion could be a sign of sinusitis or a blockage. This is worth seeing a doctor for. It’s also possible to have two different colds one after the other. However, it is likely you will recover from one first before becoming sick with the next.
**** This post is strictly informational and is not meant to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Women’s lifelink, its owners, administrators, contributors, affiliates, vendors, authors, and editors do not claim that this information will diagnose, treat, or improve any condition or disease.