A common cold is not mostly taken as a serious problem. But what if it is not just a cold and rather a misdiagnosed medical condition? People usually ignore cold and related symptoms as it is expected it to subside within days. Sometimes, the symptoms presented as cold might be indicative of some other problem. It is best to see a doctor to be sure and avoid your condition getting worse. Indian hospitals, such as Global Hospital Chennai, are world-class medical facilities that offer all kinds of medical procedures for diagnostic as well as therapeutic purposes.
Here are some signs that indicated it is something more serious than just the common cold.
For an adult, a high fever of more than 102 degree Celsius is most likely to be the body’s mechanism of dealing with a problem more than a cold. A moderate fever helps body’s immune system to fight infection and kill pathogens. Consulting a doctor for a persistent high fever is probably a good idea to figure out the problem.
Symptoms last for more than four days
Typically, the common cold is expected to clear up on its own within three to four days. The symptoms start with a scratchy or painful throat, nasal congestion, runny nose, and then finally a cough develops. Although cough and little runny nose may linger, other symptoms usually disappear after four days.
However, if symptoms prolong more than four or five days, it can possibly be something a little more worrisome, such as an infection or mononucleosis. It is better to see a doctor and get it checked timely.
Symptoms go away and then recur
If you feel better in some time and do not experience any symptoms, but they reappear in some time, this may be a sign of a superinfection or rebound illness. It may have started with a cold in the beginning, but once the immune system gets affected, chances of developing a more serious condition such as a strep throat, a sinus infection, or pneumonia.
Recent international trip
If you recently returned from an international trip, it can be a red flag for doctors as risk of having a less-conventional infection is more. It is important to inform your doctor about the travel as it can help them take the right diagnostic and treatment approach.
Accompanying stomach problems
If your cold is accompanied by gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea, it might be a sign for something more serious, such as a flu. Common cold generally does not present with stomach problems, and if you experience these symptoms consistently, it can cause dehydration and lead to other problems.
There are severe headaches
Severe headaches, especially when accompanied by a fever and neck stiffness can be a sign of infection such as meningitis. Whereas headaches with pressure around the eyes and nose can be indicative of a sinus infection. Typically, these headaches worsen when the person bends forward as the pressure is felt on the congested sinus passages.
Chest pain and trouble breathing
Although, cough is a normal part of the course of common cold, it shouldn’t severe eniugh to cause shortness of breath, wheezing, or even pain in the chest. One must not ignore these symptoms, as breathing issues can be a sign of serious problems such as bronchitis and pneumonia, whereas chest pain along with tightness and sudden breathlessness can be a sign for a pulmonary embolism – a blood clot blocking the lungs.
Symptoms are localized
Another important sign of a serious problem is a localization of the symptoms, meaning they are felt in one specific area. A cold is a problem associated with the whole upper respiratory system. However, other diseases are characterized by intensive symptoms in one area.
You have body aches
A regular cold can make you feel tired, but it doesn’t usually cause aches and pains in the whole body. Flu is more likely to cause the muscles and body feel hurting. It may also be accompanied by fatigue and chills.
There’s a pattern to your symptoms
Allergies and cold can sometimes be hard to distinguish between, as they have similar symptoms. However, allergies follow a pattern. If the symptoms become worse when you spend time outside or with a pet, or appear and disappear with a certain season, it is most likely to be allergies.
Low-grade fever for many days
Even if the fever isn’t particularly high, a low-grade fever that persists for several days can signal that the body is fighting off more than a cold. A low but consistent fever may indicate flu or mononucleosis.
Dr. Suneet holds a post-graduate degree in Hospital and Healthcare management from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and works as an International Patient Coordinator at Lyfboat.