When to Contact a Doctor with Cold/Flu Symptoms


When you have cold or flu symptoms, especially severe or persistent ones, it’s difficult to know whether you should get medical attention. Do you need a prescription to help you through? Or will normal medication see you through? Below, we’ve listed some of the most common signs that you should contact a doctor:

  • Chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • High fever (over 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Severe headache not relieved with over-the-counter medications
  • Vomiting or diarrhea lasting more than 24 hours
  • Severe sore throat, especially when accompanied by a fever
  • Swollen glands in the neck area
  • Muscle aches that don’t improve with rest and over-the-counter medications
  • Confusion, difficulty thinking clearly, or other neurological symptoms
  • Coughing up blood
  • Severe earache or trouble hearing
  • A rash that is accompanied by a fever, headache, and/or swollen glands
  • A sore throat lasting longer than five days or a fever higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit lasting more than three days
  • An ongoing cough
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Constant fatigue lasting more than a week

If you’ve not got any of the serious symptoms above, you can normally manage the symptoms of the cold or flu with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications. It is usually best to avoid going to a hospital or doctor’s office and risking exposing yourself to more germs.

However, if any of your symptoms are severe, persistent, or become worse over time, please seek medical attention. You should also contact a doctor if you are in one of the following high-risk groups:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children aged 2 and under
  • Adults over 65 years of age
  • People with weakened immune systems

If you need to know how to book a GP appointment near me, just do some research online and find a local service.


Differences Between Cold and Flu

It is important to distinguish between the common cold and influenza. Often, people use the two terms interchangeably even though they have some notable differences. Symptoms of a cold tend to be milder, while flu symptoms are much more severe. The flu often comes with a high fever, extreme fatigue and body aches. Colds usually don’t present with a fever or body aches, but they may make you feel tired.

Furthermore, it is also important to note that colds are caused by viruses while the flu is cause by a different group of viruses known as influenza.

How to Treat a Cold

When you have a cold, it is best to drink plenty of fluids and get rest. Over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines, decongestants and pain relief medications can help ease symptoms. If your symptoms persist for more than a week or start to worsen, contact your doctor.

How to Treat the Flu

For the flu, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication to help reduce symptoms. It is important to start taking it within 48 hours of the first symptoms appearing. As with a cold, take plenty of fluids and get rest to help your body fight the virus. In some cases, the flu can be serious and require hospitalization. If you experience chest pain or difficulty breathing, call your doctor right away.

How to Prevent Cold and Flu

Finally, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting a cold or the flu:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Don’t share drinks, utensils, or other objects that may carry infectious germs
  • Get a flu shot each year to reduce your risk of catching the virus
  • Eat a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals to support your immune system
  • Get enough sleep to help your body rest and recover each day