#AskADoc: I've Got a Cold, When Should I Go to the Doc?

How long should you wait before making an appointment?

Meet Dr Natasha Dole – MBCHB (Stell), DIPPEC (SA), Emergency Medicine Medical Officer – our resident doc. She’s here to answer your health-related questions.

Q: I’ve got a cold – how long should I leave it, hoping it’ll pass, before going to the doctor?

A: Oh joy – the common cold! In medical terms, the common cold refers to a mild upper-respiratory-tract virus causing a nasal discharge and a blocked nose. Lovely! Sneezing, coughing, a sore throat, headaches, malaise and a low-grade fever may also accompany it.

For the majority of people, the common cold is an uncomplicated illness that resolves spontaneously within a few days to a week. Most people don’t need to see a doc, although taking vitamin C, resting up and increasing your fluid intake will really help.

‘If you have other illnesses that might be worsened by the cold go sooner’

If you experience complications like an unresolved earache, heavy coughing that won’t go away after a few days and difficulties breathing thanks to a heavy chest, go and see a doctor.

As a general and broad rule of thumb, if your cold lasts longer than 1,5 weeks, go to the doc. If you have other illnesses that might be worsened by the cold, such as if you are asthmatic, go sooner to get medication to help your body recover.

Read Eating Yourself Sick: Are You Making These Food Hygiene Mistakes

E-mail us your health questions to cosmopolitan@assocmedia.co.za, or tweet us your query using #AskADoc

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