Common Cold Doctors

Written by the Healthline Editorial Team | Published on July 30, 2014
Medically Reviewed by Kenneth R. Hirsch, MD on July 30, 2014

Doctors Who Treat the Common Cold

In most cases, the common cold won’t require a visit to the doctor. Symptoms typically go away within one to two weeks. However, the Centers for Disease Control recommend seeing your doctor if you or your child has a fever over 100.4 F (any level in infants under three months), if over-the-counter medications aren’t helping, or if symptoms have lasted more than 10 days (CDC). You may have developed a secondary infection such as bronchitis, ear infection, or pneumonia.

You may also want to see your doctor if cold symptoms are interfering with your daily life or with sleep.

Family Doctors

Family practice physicians, pediatricians, and internists can all help treat the common cold. If you or your child has a cold, pay careful attention to symptoms that may signal a more severe infection or health condition. You should call your doctor or pediatrician to schedule an appointment immediately if you have:


  • symptoms that do not improve or get worse after 10 days
  • a fever of 100.4 F or higher
  • that produces mucus
  • severely swollen lymph nodes, ear pain, or vomiting
  • severe sinus pain
  • chest pains
  • abdominal pain
  • a stiff neck or extreme headache
  • trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • severe dizziness or new unsteadiness


Call immediately if your child is under 3 months old and has a fever. Do not wait. Also, call if your child has:

  • a high temperature (of any level for babies under 3 months and 100.4 F for those 3 months and older)
  • a fever for more than three days
  • symptoms that last more than 10 days or appear to be worsening
  • a blue or gray tint to his or her skin, especially around the lips, nose, and fingernails
  • ear pain
  • abdominal pain or vomiting
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • a stiff neck or severe headache
  • no thirst, poor fluid intake, and decreased urination
  • trouble swallowing or excessive drooling
  • a persistent cough
  • more crying bouts than normal
  • unusual levels of fatigue or irritability

Go to the emergency room immediately if:

  • you or your child has a fever of 103 F or higher or if any fever lasts for more than three days
  • you or your child has difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • you or your child’s skin has a blue tint or is turning a bluish color
  • you or your child has a stiff neck, severe headache or abdominal pain 


Pediatricians have completed additional years of training specializing in caring for the health of children. A pediatrician will be able to diagnose and prescribe the appropriate treatment for a child suffering from the common cold. If there is another underlying health condition, he or she will be able to refer the child to the appropriate specialist.


An otolaryngologist is a physician trained in the medical and surgical treatment of the ears, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck. An ENT specialist must complete five additional years of specialty training beyond a general surgery residency. Some ENT specialists opt for a subspecialty requiring even more extensive training in a specific field including pediatric otolaryngology, rhinology (specializing in the nose), or laryngology (specializing in the throat).

Preparing for a Doctor’s Visit

During the cold and flu season, doctors are very busy and sometimes your appointment may be brief. Therefore, preparing some information and questions before your visit may help ensure you cover all relevant information concerning you or your child’s illness.

Consider preparing a list of cold symptoms and how long they have lasted. Consider also listing whether you’ve been exposed to other ill individuals and their symptoms as well. Write down other medical conditions you or your child has as well as current medications.

The Mayo Clinic also recommends writing down any questions you may have for your doctor. They suggest the following questions:

  • What do you think is the most likely cause of these signs and symptoms?
  • Are there any other possible causes?
  • Are any tests needed?
  • What treatment approach do you recommend?
  • Are there any treatments that should be avoided?
  • How soon do you expect symptoms to improve?
  • Am I or my child contagious? When is it safe to return to school or work?
  • What self-care steps might help?
  • I/my child have other health conditions. How can they best be managed together?
Was this article helpful? Yes No

Thank you.

Your message has been sent.

We're sorry, an error occurred.

We are unable to collect your feedback at this time. However, your feedback is important to us. Please try again later.

Show Sources

Trending Now

Easy Ways to Conceal an Epinephrine Shot
Easy Ways to Conceal an Epinephrine Shot
Learn how to discreetly carry your epinephrine autoinjectors safely and discreetly. It’s easier than you think to keep your shots on hand when you’re on the go.
Numbness, Muscle Pain and Other RA Symptoms
Numbness, Muscle Pain and Other RA Symptoms
The symptoms of RA are more than just joint pain and stiffness. Common symptoms include loss of feeling, muscle pain, and more. Learn more in this slideshow.
Beyond Back Pain: 5 Warning Signs of Ankylosing Spondylitis
Beyond Back Pain: 5 Warning Signs of Ankylosing Spondylitis
There are a number of potential causes of back pain, but one you might not know about is ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Find out five warning signs of AS in this slideshow.
Understanding the Progression of Ankylosing Spondylitis
Understanding the Progression of Ankylosing Spondylitis
One serious potential cause of back pain is ankylosing spondylitis. Get an understanding of what this condition is, how it progresses, and potential complications in this slideshow.
Common Asthma Triggers and How to Avoid Them
Common Asthma Triggers and How to Avoid Them
Learn about some of the most common triggers for asthma, as well as measures you can take to minimize your risk of exposure, symptoms, and flares.