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When to Go to Urgent Care for Cough & Colds?

Untitled-design-2023-02-28T000013.702 When to Go to Urgent Care for Cough & Colds?

A cold is a contagious yet mild condition that affects the upper respiratory tract. It is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the lining of the nose, throat, sinuses, and windpipe. Several different types of viruses can cause most colds, but 10% to 40% are due to the various strains of rhinovirus.

The common cold is one of the most prevalent diseases globally, hence its name. According to the CDC, an adult can have an average of two to three bouts of colds every year, especially during the spring and winter.

Common colds do not typically result in serious symptoms and complications. Most people infected with it will only experience mild symptoms, which usually clear out by themselves after a few days. 

But in some cases, a common cold may cause serious symptoms, especially for people with a weakened immune system. So when’s the right time to Google ‘urgent care near me’ and see a doctor about your cough or cold? Read on to find out.

What are the symptoms of a cold?

Common cold symptoms develop gradually and may appear one to three days after exposure. Its symptoms can include the following:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore or scratchy throat
  • Mild, hacking cough
  • Mild fatigue and weakness
  • Sometimes, the patient may experience aching muscles, mild headaches, and low-grade fever.
  • A general feeling of unwellness

A common cold usually starts with a cough or runny nose. Discharge from the nose or mouth may start as clear and watery but may become thick and yellowish over time. This condition spreads from person to person thru aerosol droplets expelled through coughing or sneezing.

It can be difficult to tell if you have a common cold or another illness with almost the same symptoms, such as flu, allergies, or COVID-19. So if you experience any of these symptoms, the best course of action is to put on a mask and isolate while you recover. 

What are the possible complications of a cold?

A common cold should not be a cause for concern for a fairly healthy individual. It will typically go away on its own with plenty of rest and water intake. Patients can also take OTC medications and other home remedies to manage their symptoms. 

However, complications may arise for immunocompromised individuals and those with existing lung conditions (e.g., asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema). For these patients, a simple cold can cause moderate to severe symptoms, such as:

  • Exacerbated or a mucus-producing cough
  • High fever
  • Muscle pains
  • Ear pain
  • Sinus type headache

Catching a cold can also cause your existing lung condition to flare up or worsen. It may also lead to the development of other illnesses, such as strep throat, pneumonia, acute bronchitis, otitis media, and sinusitis.

When to seek an urgent care doctor?

A cold virus will manifest symptoms on the 2nd or third day of infection. It can last for up to seven days or more but will begin to wane down during that period. 

However, if symptoms still persist, worsen, or fail to improve, it’s time to seek medical help. Some of the specific signs to watch out for include the following:

  • A persistent fever of 101.3 or higher
  • A recurring fever
  • Wheezing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Severe headache and sinus pain
  • Severe sore throat
  • Chest pain

For children, seek medical help if they experience a rising fever that lasts for days, headache, wheezing, throat pain, and shortness of breath. Appetite problems, unusual fussiness, and drowsiness should also warrant a visit to the nearest urgent care facility. 

Additionally, patients with a chronic or long-term illness should seek urgent care immediately at the first sign of a common cold. 

What should you do if you catch a cold?

There’s no definite cure to treat a cold. But there are various medications and remedies that can help relieve your symptoms. Some of the specific over-the-counter medications you can use include the following:

  • Cough medicine, decongestant, and antihistamine to alleviate cough and nasal congestion.
  • An expectorant for phlegmatic cough
  • Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen to relieve fever, aches, and pains. However, patients with asthma and ulcer should not take these medications unless prescribed.
  • Nasal sprays for runny nose and sneezing
  • Throat lozenges or throat spray to relieve sore throat.

There are also other remedies and healthy ways to treat and manage the symptoms of a common cold:

  • Getting plenty of rest and sleep
  • Gargle with salt water
  • Increasing water intake and consuming warm fluids, such as hot teas, herbs, and soups.
  • Eating a healthy diet to maintain the strength of the immune system.
  • Avoid consuming cold drinks, sweets, caffeinated drinks, and alcohol as these can exacerbate your cough and phlegm.
  • Cut back or quit smoking.

Going to school or work won’t affect your recovery. However, going in public spaces increases the risk of infecting others and spreading the viral infection. So, it’s best to stay at home until your symptoms clear out. 

Urgent Care of the Palm Beaches - Providing Quality Medical Care for Everyone

Urgent Care of the Palm Beaches is one of the leading providers of urgent medical care in the Florida area. Our board-certified physicians offer high-quality services to address various medical problems一from acute respiratory problems to diagnostic procedures like influenza a&b test.

So if you’re looking for a facility to address your minor health concern, do COVID testing, or provide flu shot in Palm Beach County, then we can help. 

Contact us or visit one of our convenient locations near you: 

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.


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11951 US Highway 1 Suite 108,
North Palm Beach, FL 33408
(561) 429-6109

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5818 South Dixie Highway
West Palm Beach, FL 33405
(561) 429-4779

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West Palm Beach, FL 33406
(561) 328-8433
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