Common Cold Symptoms: What’s Normal, What’s Not
Is It the Flu?
Take your temperature. A mild case of the flu often has symptoms like a cold, but a cold rarely raises your temperature above 101 degrees F.
Besides a fever, the flu often gives you muscle aches and a headache.
For in-depth information, see WebMD's "Flu or Cold Symptoms?"
When to Call the Doctor About Cold Symptoms
Except in newborns, colds aren't dangerous. The symptoms usually go away without any special treatment. But when you're sick it can wear down your body's resistance, making you more open to an infection by a bacteria.
See your doctor if your cold symptoms are severe and you aren't getting better. He'll likely check your throat and ears, and listen to your lungs. He may take a throat culture by brushing your throat with a long cotton-tipped swab. This will show whether you have an infection that needs treatment with antibiotics.
Call your doctor if you have:
- An earache
- Pain around the nose and eyes (sinuses) for more than a week
- Fever above 102 degrees F. If your child is younger than 3 months and has a temperature of 100.4 degrees F or higher, call your doctor right away.
- Fever that lasts more than a day in a child under 2, or more than 3 days in a child age 2 or older
- Cough up mucus for more than a week
- Shortness of breath
- Worsening symptoms
- Symptoms that last longer than 2 weeks
- Trouble swallowing.
- A sore throat for more than 5 days
- Pain or pressure in the chest or belly
- A stiff neck or sensitivity to bright lights
Also see your doctor if:
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding and get a cold
- Your newborn or infant gets symptoms
- Your cold worsens after the third day