Nasal congestion, sneezing, a runny nose, and coughing are all classic signs of a cold. In most cases, common colds go away on their own, and it isn’t necessary to make an appointment with your primary care physician or your child’s pediatrician for an evaluation and diagnosis.

If you or your child’s cold symptoms are bothersome or severe enough to warrant a visit with your doctor, he or she will take several factors into account when making a diagnosis. Your doctor will perform a routine physical exam, and this might include swabbing the back of the throat to determine whether a sore throat is caused by a cold virus or a bacterial infection. The doctor will also ask you questions about you or your child’s specific symptoms.