When is a Cold a Cause for Concern?

We refer to the cold as “common” because of its widespread reach every cold and flu season, but sometimes there’s nothing common about it. Should symptoms persist or worsen longer than the general time frame for a cold, they may be indicating a more serious problem.

You won’t need to see a family physician every time you catch a cold. However, don’t hesitate to call Callahan Clinic or another family practice clinic near you if symptoms progress beyond a few days with a runny nose and chills.

Ask yourself these questions if you are wondering whether or not your cold should be a cause for concern.

Have Your Symptoms Lasted Two Weeks or Longer?

First, be sure to rest, drink water and other fluids, and take any necessary over-the-counter cold medications. If that doesn’t reduce symptoms after a period of two weeks or more, schedule an appointment with your local family practice doctor. Colds shouldn’t last longer than that, but when they do, the symptoms may have developed into other issues.

Do You Have a Fever of 102° or More?

An extended fever could be another sign that you have more than just the cold, possibly the flu which will need antiviral medications. Be especially careful to monitor your children’s temperatures when they are suffering from a prolonged cold. Their temperatures should not stay at or rise above 103° or more.

If your temperature reaches 104° or higher, schedule an urgent care appointment or visit an emergency care center as soon as possible.

Do You Feel any Ear Pain or Pressure?

Ear pain should not be ignored! Fluid buildup may travel to your ear making it more prone to infections that could damage your hearing. Watch for any discomfort you may feel in your ear as cold symptoms persist and contact your family practice physician if you do notice acute pressure or pain in your ear.

Have You Been Vomiting and/or Coughing Continuously?

Your body needs fluids and food to maintain its energy and heal, which perpetual vomiting can hinder and put you in danger of dehydration. See your family physician if you cannot keep down any substances.

A continuous cough also can be a worry. Observe if the phlegm caught in your throat is greenish-yellow in color and if it won’t go away after 10 days. This prolonged congestion and large amount of phlegm may develop into a sinus infection if the issue is not addressed.

Are You Experiencing any Chest Pain or Pressure?

Another common worry with a persistent cold and cough is mucus running down to a patient’s lungs. This can develop into more serious conditions such as pneumonia or bronchitis. But if noticed early on, these can be treated quickly.

Take note if you feel a tightness in your chest or similar chest pain. If you experience shortness of breath or a faster heart rate, you may also want to visit a family clinic, preferably one with same-day doctors who can see you sooner. Patients with pneumonia may experience bouts of confusion or have trouble piecing together simple thoughts as well, which should also receive immediate medical attention.

And Finally, Have Your Symptoms Gotten Worse?

If you were to ask yourself just one of these questions to know if you needed to see a family physician, this last question would be it. Experiencing any of the above symptoms is a good sign that your common cold symptoms aren’t improving and are developing into more serious issues.

Take care of yourself and visit a family clinic near you for vaccinations or whenever you experience these and other concerning symptoms. Families in St. George, UT and surrounding areas can visit Callahan Clinic for urgent care appointments and regular preventative health services in our local office! Let us provide you with the friendly and professional care you need to feel like your best self again. Contact us today!


1) https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/quick-dose-cold-flu-concern
2) https://www.arcare.net/5-cold-symptoms-really-see-doctor-treat/