Cold and Flu: When Should I Call Our Doctor?

Cold and Flu: When Should I Call Our Doctor?

You’ve nursed yourself and your family through a few cold and flu episodes in your time. But how do you know when you need to call in for a consult? What are the signs that signal it’s time to see a doctor?

More often than not, a cold or flu will resolve itself. No matter your age, you’ll likely sniffle through congestion, suffer through sore throat pain, or groan your way through the body aches of the flu. But sometimes it comes to a point where you should call the doctor. And though adults and children share many of the same cold and flu symptoms, the signs that signal when to see a doctor can differ.

Infants:
When an infant gets a cold, a parent must act quickly. A newborn’s cold can swiftly turn into something more serious or make it difficult for a baby to properly nurse or to be bottle-fed. See a doctor as soon as you notice symptoms.

Babies older than 3 months of age:
Seek your doctor’s advice if you notice:
changes in wetting habits
eye or ear symptoms
coughing or nasal discharge that refuses to go away
a fever over 38.1°C that lasts longer than one day
a fever that persists for more than 3 days
Urgent symptoms include:
difficulty breathing
refusal to feed
coughs that cause vomiting, bloody mucus, or a change in skin colour

Children:
Seek a doctor’s help for:
cold or flu symptoms that last 10 or more days
a fever that peaks at or above 39.4°C
a fever that persists for more than 3 days
fast or laboured breathing or wheezing
ear pain or discharge
listlessness or irritability
vomiting or abdominal pain
changes to skin colour

Teens and adults:
Head to the doctor for:
symptoms that persist beyond 10 days
a prolonged fever of 38.9°C accompanied by aches and fatigue
glands in neck or jaw that feel very swollen
laboured breathing or chest pain or pressure
confusion, disorientation, faint-headedness
severe vomiting
intense sinus pain

McNeil Consumer Healthcare, division of Johnson & Johnson Inc. 2010

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