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Published on December 27, 2011

When to See a Doctor When Your are Sick

December 27, 2011

This is the prime time for colds, flu and other respiratory illnesses.  Most respiratory bugs come and go within a few days, with no lasting effects. However, some cause serious health problems.

When to see your Doctor

You should see a health care professional if you aren't getting any better or if your symptoms worsen. Mucus buildup from a viral infection can lead to a bacterial infection. With children, be alert for high fevers and for abnormal behavior such as unusual drowsiness, refusal to eat, crying a lot, holding the ears or stomach and wheezing.

Signs of trouble for all people can include:

  • a cough that disrupts sleep
  • a fever that won't go down
  • increased shortness of breath
  • face pain caused by a sinus infection
  • worsening of symptoms, high fever, chest pain or a difference in the mucus you're producing, all after feeling better for a short time

Cold and flu complications may include bacterial infections (e.g., bronchitis, sinusitis, ear infections and pneumonia) that could require antibiotics.

Remember: While antibiotics are used against bacterial infections, they don't help against viral infections such as the cold or flu.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration (accessed December 16, 2008).

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