While it may be tempting to assume that a cold is nothing serious, there are instances when the common cold, or cough, do warrant a visit to the doctor. Though, more often than not, most people try to push through a cold without seeing a doctor. A 2015 ZocDoc survey found that 43% of respondents would rather diagnose and treat themselves than see a doctor if they're feeling sick. So, when should you get your cold checked out by an MD rather than Dr Google?
Three weeks may sound like a long time. Though it is highly normal for a cold to last up to 21 days. Coughs that last more than three weeks however, are more of a concern. Prolonged symptoms could be signs of asthma, pneumonia or a different type of lung pathology.
There are times when you begin to feel better, but only rebound and get much worse. There are some emergency signs that require immediate medical care. Usually, flu-like symptoms that seem to improve but return with a worse fever and a cough warrants a visit to your GP. It's possible that you may have a secondary infection, which could be anything from bronchitis to pneumonia.
Thickened saliva is common in a cold, but phlegm that is a strange color signifies that something weird is going on in your body. Colors like yellow, brown, green or even blood, are of concern.
Tearing up nonstop? Unless there's a pet in sight, there's a chance you may have allergies rather than a common cold. Though at times, it may be hard to tell the difference. There are more than a hundred strains of cold viruses, each of which tends to become widespread at certain times of the year, which is why you may think that you have a cold, rather than seasonal allergy. Hives, tongue swelling, feeling lightheaded, stomach cramps and more indicate allergies.
If you're not eating enough, shedding weight may not come as a surprise. But if you're actively losing weight while eating, it may be a concern. Unexplained weight loss coupled with cold-like symptoms could indicate hyperthyroidism, cancer, a bacterial infection or even HIV.
Coughing is a common cold symptom, though a cough that is accompanied by wheezing or chest tightness may signify an asthma attack. During which, your airway linings swell and become inflamed, get clogged by mucus and then becomes constricted due to tightening muscles. As a result, breathing becomes difficult. If you experience any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor.
Be wary if you're experiencing pain or pressure in one specific part of your body. Strep throat will cause pain in your throat, while pain your nasal passages may be due to a sinus infection. Ear infections, however, accompanied with hearing loss, severe pain in the ear, or any kind of discharge coming out are reasons to visit a doctor.