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The Common Cold

The Common Cold Isn’t an Emergency Except in Special Cases

From kids to adults, everyone is susceptible to catching a cold. The respiratory virus has some uncomfortable symptoms, but it’s usually not an emergency. Instead, you can rest and manage your symptoms at home.

However, it’s possible to mistake the common cold for a serious illness. In addition, a standard cold can turn into an emergency if you have certain medical conditions. By educating yourself you’ll know when to treat your symptoms at home and when to head to the emergency room. If you need to go to the ER, your physician will begin by diagnosing the cause of your symptoms. Then, your doctor will create a treatment plan based on the diagnosis.

The Common Cold Vs. COVID-19

Most colds are caused by rhinovirus. Thus, it is not a coronavirus, but the viruses share some symptoms.

Both illnesses cause coughing, stuffy noses, and sore throats. In addition, COVID-19 and the common cold can change your sense of taste and smell. A cold can mute your sense of taste and smell, while COVID-19 can temporarily eliminate it.

The two viruses differ in other ways as well. For instance, COVID-19 typically causes muscle aches, fatigue, and fever. People with colds sometimes have these symptoms, but it’s much less likely.

In addition, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea sometimes occur with COVID-19. Colds never cause these symptoms.

Is It an Emergency?

The virus could cause sinus infections, ear infections, asthma, and other conditions if you have a weakened immune system. Thus, consult with your physician if you have cold symptoms and a weakened system.

Even if you don’t, go to the emergency room if you are also experiencing:

  • Ear or chest pain
  • High fever
  • Symptoms that don’t improve or get worse
  • An asthma attack

These symptoms indicate that you have an underlying illness. Once your physician diagnoses the illness, you can start treatment.

Are Pediatric Colds an Emergency?

Children can get fussy when dealing with this virus, so you might think it’s an emergency. Fortunately, your child can likely fight off the virus at home. However, you should visit a pediatric emergency room if your child experiences any of the following:

  • Wheezing
  • Sleeping or crying more than normal
  • High fever
  • Ear pain
  • Stomach pain

How Long Does It Last?

The virus typically runs its course in 7-10 days. While you cannot cure it or speed up your recovery, you can manage your symptoms.

Common Cold Treatment – Managing Your Symptoms at Home

If you’re dealing with this virus, make sure you stay hydrated. Also, drink warm honey or lemon water to soothe your throat and break up the mucus. Your throat will also feel better if you gargle with salt water and use lozenges.

You can also manage your cough, stuffiness, and runny nose with over-the-counter medications. Nose sprays, liquids, and capsules can reduce the severity of symptoms.

While colds are rarely emergencies, you need immediate care if you’re at high risk for complications or have specific symptoms. Your cold might be something more serious, so if you notice any serious symptoms, go to the emergency room right away.