Is it just a cold? Strep throat? Allergies? A runny nose and sore throat are simple enough to treat, but what if it’s more than just the common cold? Should you go to your medicine cabinet, to your doctor or to the local urgent care center?
Medicine Cabinet: If you have a runny nose, sore throat, cough, mild fever and body aches, odds are you have a viral infection and can be treated at home with over-the-counter medicine. Still feeling under the weather? A warm bowl of soup or gargling with warm salt water (1/4 teaspoon per 8 ounces of water) can ease discomfort. A spoonful of honey can be very soothing to a sore throat and can also help decrease coughing (honey should be given to children more than 12 months old). Symptoms should last no longer than seven to 10 days.
Doctor: If you think you may have a bacterial infection like strep throat or if symptoms become severe, it may be time to visit your doctor. Look for redness or swelling in your throat and/or white spots on the tonsils at the back of the throat. Call the doctor to have a throat culture, which can help diagnose the problem, and possibly get proper antibiotics.
Urgent Care: While it’s best to see your primary care doctor, you can also go to an urgent care facility if your doctor isn’t available. Urgent care facilities often have shorter wait times and can provide a medical record to your doctor. Find out more about Urgent Care.
Emergency Department: Sometimes what may appear to be a cold can grow into something much worse. If you are having trouble breathing, have a hard time swallowing or are coughing up blood, it’s time to head to the emergency room for treatment.
Test your knowledge. What do you know about the common cold? Find out and take this quiz to test your knowledge.