Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Select An Article

When Should I See a Doctor for a Cold or Flu?

Font Size
A
A
A

You already know that a scratchy throat, annoying cough, and lots of sneezing are part of the game. You can also probably count on a stuffy nose and some aches and pains. But when is it time to put down the chicken soup and get some advice from a pro?

Take stock of your symptoms and see if they fit into one of these patterns:

Recommended Related to Cold & Flu

Swine Flu FAQ

The H1N1 swine flu virus appeared in the U.S. in April 2009 and never went away. After sweeping the globe, U.S. H1N1 swine flu cases surged as schools opened in the fall. What is H1N1 swine flu? What can we do about it? WebMD answers your questions. What is swine flu? What are swine flu symptoms? Who is at highest risk of H1N1 swine flu? Help! I've been exposed to swine flu. What should I do? If I think I have swine flu,...

Read the Swine Flu FAQ article > >

You have trouble breathing or chest pain .

Your cold or flu shouldn't make you short of breath or cause your chest to hurt. If that's happening to you, it could be a sign of a more serious problem, such as heart disease, asthma, or pneumonia.

Call your doctor or go to the emergency room.

Your fever doesn't get better.

If it won't go away it might mean you've got another infection in your body that needs treatment. Generally, a fever for an adult is a temperature over 100.5 degrees F.

You can't keep anything down.

Your body needs fluids to work right. If you can't drink anything without vomiting, you may need to go to your doctor's office or the hospital to get fluids through an IV.

It hurts to swallow.

That's not normal. Although a sore throat can make it hurt a little to swallow, severe pain can be a sign of an infection or injury that needs to be treated by a doctor.

You can't get rid of your cough .

If it doesn't go away, it's likely due to postnasal drip -- mucus that moves from your nose into your throat. It can be treated with antihistamines. But it could also be related to asthma or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Your doctor can tell you what to do for it.

A lasting, severe cough is also the main symptom of whooping cough, a disease that's become more common in many parts of the U.S. So, if you've been hacking away for more than 2-3 weeks, your doctor may give you a test to see if you've got it.

Your congestion and headache won't go away.

Colds and allergies that block your nose with mucus can lead to a sinus infection. If your cold medicine doesn't give you relief, see your doctor for more treatment.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on September 16, 2014

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
 
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
 
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
Slideshow
cold weather
VIDEO
 
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Article
Boy holding ear
Slideshow
 
woman receiving vaccine shot
Article
woman with fever
Article
 
Waking up from sleep
Article
woman with sore throat
Slideshow