The common cold typically lasts between 7-10 days, and common cold treatments are often nothing more than rest and over-the-counter symptom management medications.
When treatments for the common cold aren’t working and you or a loved one is experiencing flu-like symptoms, here are some reasons when your common cold symptoms could be a sign of something worse, and when you should think about heading to the ER.
When to Go to the ER
Fever and cold symptoms can turn into influenza symptoms if you aren’t feeling any better as the days progress, or if symptoms quickly escalate. In addition to typical common cold symptoms (fatigue, chills, body aches, etc.), high fevers in adults are usually a good indicator of a viral cold infection or potential flu.
Adults with a sustained fever over 102 degrees, as well as any combination of the below flu-like symptoms, should seek medical attention:
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe chest or stomach pain
- Vertigo and lightheadedness
- Severe vomiting
Getting Better Before Getting Worse
Another important sign that can help you or a loved one determine if you need to visit the ER is when treatment for severe colds may make you feel better initially, but flu-like symptoms return. If your fever broke and returned after a few days, chest pain starts to come back or you are unable to hold down food after you’ve been able to eat normally, it might be a sign that stronger influenza treatment is necessary.
If at any point you or a loved one is also experiencing any symptoms of severe dehydration, including extreme thirst, confusion, dark-colored urine and dizziness, seek medical treatment immediately.
We’re Here for Emergencies
You know your body better than anybody else. If your fever and cold symptoms just aren’t going away, and you’re concerned it might be the flu, we’re here to help. Emergency services at Swedish Medical Center are close to home, open 24 hours a day and have some of the shortest wait times in the Denver metro area.
Whether it’s for viral cold infection treatment or influenza treatment, the ER department at Swedish is home to physician teams and facilities designed to get you better and back home as quickly and comfortably as possible.
If you ever feel like you are not physically well enough to get to the ER, or if doing so would put yourself or others in danger, call 911. For all non-emergency questions about Swedish Medical Center’s emergency services, please call (303) 788-6911.