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How Do I Know If I Have A Head Cold?

How Do I Know If I Have A Head Cold?

24 October 2014 / Category: News
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Head ColdYour nose is dripping, your ears are ringing, and your throat is sore. We have all been here before, faced with a terrible head cold that is threatening your very sanity. Usually, within very little time the common cold runs its course and life returns to normal. But sometimes, your head cold doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Or even worse, the symptoms are increasing in severity. At this point you might start to worry about what is actually going on–do you really have a simple head cold, or are you infected with something more serious? Here we explain the signs and symptoms of bronchitis, as well as other infections similar to a head cold that call for more serious medical attention.

How Long Should A Cold Last For?

One to four days after coming into contact with the cold virus you will usually start to display symptoms of getting sick. Once activated, the average cold generally lasts anywhere from 3-10 days, even without taking medicines. More typically cold symptoms will only last about 3 days before backing off.

It’s not the cold itself that is so dangerous; instead it’s the fact that your body’s immune system is lowered as it fights off the cold. Due to this decrease in your body’s natural security system, exposures to other bacteria have a greater chance at making you sick.

A simple head cold can range to include any number of symptoms from coughing, to sore throat, to a stuffy nose. All of which you wish to disappear the moment your symptoms sneeze into gear. But if your head cold seems endless or if your symptoms are getting worse, this could be a sign of something more serious than a cold.

You should call your doctor due to a cold if:

  • Symptoms are only getting worse
  • You are experiencing earaches
  • Your neck is stiff
  • You notice sensitivity to bright lights
  • You have a sore throat and a temperature above 101˚ F

Is Your Cold Allergies?

A persistent stuffy nose, cough, or sneeze might have to do with allergies instead of a cold. Allergies will not get better unless exposure to the particular allergen your body doesn’t tolerate is removed.

Is your Cold RSV, Respiratory Syncytial Virus?   

RSV is an upper respiratory virus similar in symptoms to the common cold, although it can cause much worse symptoms in young children, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised immune system. This virus usually leaves the system within 2 weeks, but it is one of the leading causes of bronchiolitis, which is where the small airways located in the lung become inflamed. This can lead to difficulty breathing, or an inability to breathe at all.

Is Your Cold A Bacterial Infection?

If your cold symptoms worsen around the 3-day mark, this is often a sign of a bacterial infection. While the standard head cold will not improve with the use of antibiotics, a bacterial infection will. Bacterial infections often mistaken as, or spurred on by the common cold include Bronchitis and Pneumonia.

Do You Have Bronchitis?

Bronchitis causes inflammation of your bronchial tubes, which are responsible for transporting air in and out of your lungs. There are 2 types of bronchitis, acute and chronic. It is more common to have acute bronchitis, especially because this is transmitted virally and results due to a cold. Chronic bronchitis is less common and lasts 3 months or more, smoking often causes it.

Signs that signal bronchitis are very similar to symptoms of the flu or a cold, such as coughing, feeling weak or tired, and having a fever with chills. But bronchitis also comes with more severe symptoms such as:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Large mucus production
  • Blood comes up with cough
  • Wheezing, or shortness of breath
  • Discolored mucus or blood

Do You Have Pneumonia?

Pneumonia causes inflammation of the lungs, which is why it is often first mistaken for a cold. You are at a greater risk for developing pneumonia when you have a cold because your immune system is weakened, and a variety of different germs can get into your lungs and cause pneumonia. In some cases breathing in chemical fumes is the related cause.

Pneumonia usually lasts for a couple of weeks, although symptoms such as lethargy can linger for over a month.

There are two types of pneumonia, viral and bacteria, your symptoms can differ slightly depending on which you have, but generally symptoms of pneumonia include:

  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath when you exert mild physical effort
  • Stabbing pain in your chest area that worsens when you take a deep breath
  • Clammy skin, sweating
  • Fatigue, muscle pain
  • Weight loss due to lack of appetite
  • Confusion (especially concerning the elderly)

If you are experiencing prolonged, or worsening cold symptoms visit Urgent Medical Center today for the quality care you deserve.

 

 

 

About the author

Jonathan Kudrowitz Mr. Kudrowitz is a graduate of Nova Southeastern University’s Physician Assistant Program (MMS) and also completed a master’s degree in biomedical science (MS) at Florida Atlantic University. Jon is certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and is a member in good standing of the FAPA and AAPA. He joined UMC in 2009 and shares a commitment to delivering high-quality care with the utmost compassion, respect and attention to his patients.




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