When Should You See a Doctor for a Common Cold?

It is a widespread viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, including the throat and nose. Cold is also a prevalent disease, especially in the winter season. Most individuals recover from a common cold in 7 to 10 days. Usually, you do not need medical attention for a common cold, but if symptoms may occur for a long time, you should visit a doctor.

Causes of Common Cold

 Several types of viruses may cause a common cold. But rhinoviruses are the most common cause of this disease. A virus enters the human body through nose, eyes, or mouth in the common cold. The common cold may occur when a virus can spread through droplets in the air if any person coughs or sneezes. Common cold can also spread through hand-to-hand contact with any individual who is suffering from a cold. They can also spread it by sharing contaminated or dirty objects, including towels, telephones, combs, glasses, and cups. Thus, you should wear a mask to avoid the cold. 

Symptoms of the Common Cold

After exposure to a cold-causing virus enters the body, signs and symptoms of the common cold can generally appear in one to three days. There are several symptoms, and signs of the common cold are given below – 

  • Sneezing

  • Stuffy or runny nose

  • Cough

  • Sore throat

  • Congestion

  • Fever

  • Mild headache

  • Feeling unwell

When Should You consult a Doctor for the Common Cold? 

The severity of a common cold depends on the individual's age Children, and adults have different severity conditions to visit a doctor for the treatment of a common cold. If you are having common cold and symptoms are worse daily, you should see a doctor to treat the common cold. There are several conditions for children and adults to see a doctor are given below –

For children – Generally, if your child is suffering from a common cold, then he does not need medical attention to treat this disease. But you should visit to doctor if your child has symptoms of

  • A problem in wheezing or breathing or fast breathing 

  • Increasing or rising fever up to 100.4 F for a long time

  • Severe symptoms including fever, cough, or throat pain for an extended period

  • Ear pain

  • Many changes in mental state, including irritability or seizures

  • Unusual drowsiness

  • Flu-like symptoms, which improve but return fast with a worse cough and a high fever for several days

  • Worsening chronic medical condition

  • Lack of appetite for several days

  • Weakness

  • Chest pain

  • Difficulty in swallow

For Adults – Normally, you do not need a visit to a doctor for the treatment of a common cold. But you should visit a doctor if you have several symptoms for an extended period are given below – 

  • Difficulty in breathing

  • Severe sore throat pain

  • Specific symptoms or signs that do not improve after medications

  • Rising fever of more than 100 F for an extended period

  • Fever rising and again rising after a few minutes

  • Sinus pain

  • Chest pain may be associated with severe diseases 

Complications of Common Cold

There are several complications may occur when the symptoms are worse of the common cold are given below – 

  • Acute sinusitis– When a common cold does not treat, which may lead to pain, infection, and swelling of the sinuses.

  • Acute ear infection – This type of complication occurs if viruses or bacteria enter the space behind the eardrum. Many typical symptoms include fever or headache and are not suitable for your health.

  • Asthma – A common cold may trigger wheezing if you have asthma. But if you have asthma, then the symptoms of the common cold may get worse.

  • Other infections – A common cold may lead to several different ailments, including pneumonia, strep throat, and bronchitis in children. A doctor treats these several infections. 

Risk Factors

Several risk factors may enhance the risk of getting a common cold are discussed below – 

  • Poor immunity – If you have a weak immune system, then it increases the risk of getting cold and other infections.

  • Age – If Children or kids are under the age of 6, it may increase the risk of getting a cold. The risk of getting a cold is high when a child is playing with other infected kids.

  • Insufficient sleep – Lack of or inadequate sleep may affect the immune system, which may increase the risk of getting a cold. 

  • Pollution – If you live in a polluted environment, the chances of getting a cold are higher compared to an non-pollution climate.

  • Time of year – The common cold may occur anytime, especially in the winter or rainy seasons. You can spend time inside and outside when it is cold and wet, which enhances the risk of getting a cold.

How to protect or prevent from the cold

There are several ways to avoid or lower the risk of the common cold are given below - 

  • Stay away from individuals with the common cold – If you stay away or avoid contact with those suffering from it,n it may reduce the risk of getting a cold. To protect yourself from the common cold, you can also avoid crowds and touching your mouth, eyes, and nose.

  • Do not share infected utensils – Do not share infected or used eating utensils or drinking glasses with anyone, including friends and family members. If you have a cold, you should not share your glasses or cups with someone; that lowers the risk of getting cold in your home or society.

  • Wash hands regularly – You should wash your hands daily with water and soap for about 20 seconds. That helps in lowering the risk of getting a cold. If soap and water are unavailable you should use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, containing about 60 percent alcohol. Washing hands daily also helps lower the risk of other viral infections and is suitable for health. 

  • Wear a mask – You must wear a mask that is beneficial in reducing the risk of spreading cold and other viral diseases in your home and society.


Cold is a widespread viral infection that occurs primarily in children and adults. It is not a very serious disease with no medical attention. If the symptoms of a cold occur for an extended period, then you should visit a doctor for the treatment of the cold. 

Updated on: 16-Feb-2023


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