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How to Handle Cold and Flu Season

When to See a Doctor

While there's no cure for colds or the flu, both can turn into secondary infections that need treatment. See your physician if you or your kids experience any of the following cold and flu complications:

Cold Red Flags

  • Your symptoms are worsening rather than improving after one week or have gotten no better after 10 days—you may be getting sinusitis.
  • You have one dominant symptom like a sinus headache, ear pain, or a severe sore throat, which means you might have a bacterial infection that requires antibiotics.
  • You develop a fever during the course of your cold, which might mean you have an infection.

Flu Red Flags

  • Your cough is getting worse and becoming productive (and your phlegm is green, gray, or yellow)—signs of bronchitis.
  • You have shortness of breath, pain when you cough or take a deep breath, and a fever over 102 degrees, which could indicate pneumonia.
  • If you have a cold or flu and the symptoms wane but then return with much more strength and are accompanied by a fever, be sure to check in with your doctor. A recurrent respiratory flu accompanied by fever may be a sign of an H1N1 infection.