It’s Fall, so you know what that means: runny noses, sneezing, coughing, puffy eyes…cold season! If you’re anything like me, then you’re already taking decongestants like they’re daily vitamins. Especially during sinus infection season, it’s important to recognize what symptoms may be indicative of something that might require a bit more medical treatment than just a neti pot.
Here are signs that your common cold is something more serious.
**As always, be sure to get tested for COVID-19 and practice social distancing to help stop the spread of the virus.**
1. You’ve had symptoms for more than four days.
Melisa Lai Becker, MD, site chief of emergency medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance, told Health Magazine that if you notice your symptoms are still lingering after a few days, it may be time to go see a medical professional.
The common cold tends to clear up on its own after two to three days.
“With a cold, you ultimately feel OK after a couple days of rest, hydration, and Kleenex,” she said.
So if your scratchy throat and achy joints aren’t going away, it may be a sign of something a bit more serious, like flu, mono, or Covid-19.
2. You have a high fever.
A high fever is almost always a dead giveaway that your cold is more serious than what it may seem. Although fevers can happen with colds, high fevers are pretty unusual.
According to Dr. Lai Becker, a fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit can be a sign of strep throat.
“Strep throat is one thing you really want to distinguish from a cold,” she said. “Left untreated, it can cause rheumatic fever and lead to serious heart problems.”
Because fevers are also a sign of COVID-19, it’s important to also get a PCR test done.
3. You’re having stomach issues.
Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are not usually associated with the common cold, so if you notice that your experiencing any of these symptoms, they could be a sign of the flu. Seek medical attention if you notice these symptoms happening consistently, as they could lead to dehydration.
4. You’re experiencing chest pain or difficulty breathing.
Coughing is a normal part of the common cold. However, excessive hacking and wheezing aren’t. If you notice that your coughing is causing tightness in your chest, shortness of breath, or chest pain, it could be a sign of bronchitis, pneumonia, or a pulmonary embolism.
5. You have body aches.
The cold isn’t comfortable. But then again, it shouldn’t be causing major body aches and pains either. These symptoms, in addition to body chills and fatigue, can be a sign of the flu.
“With the flu, you’ll feel like you got hit by a truck,” Dr. Mysore told Health. “Just getting out of bed will wear you out, and your muscles will be tender and sore.”