When should I call the doctor about my child's cold?

Call the doctor about your child’s cold when he seems to be getting worse instead of better, when your parental intuition tells you something isn't right or when he has any of the following symptoms:
  • a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit, or a fever of 101 degrees F that lasts a day or longer
  • headache, facial or throat pain that gets worse
  • a sore throat that makes it hard for him to swallow
  • stomach pain, chest pain or vomiting
  • refusal or inability to drink enough liquid
  • productive cough with a lot of mucus
  • shortness of breath, rapid breathing or wheezing
  • extreme tiredness
  • an earache

Call 911 or your local ambulance service right away if your child:

• Is so tired and weak that he hardly responds to you.
• Is working very hard to breathe or finds it hard to take a breath.
• Grunts when he breathes.
• Has chest retractions (skin pulling in around the ribs and chest when breathing).
• Has a blue or dark purple color to the nail beds, lips or gums.
• Stops breathing for more than 10 seconds.
• Cannot speak while trying to breathe.
• Has any breathing problem that needs care right away.

Call your child’s doctor if your child:

• Does not smile or show interest in play for at least a few minutes during a four-hour period.
• Wheezes or breathes harder than he did when he was seen by the doctor.
• Has a tight feeling in the chest or chest pain.
• Cannot be calmed for at least a few minutes each hour using methods that usually work for your child, such as holding, rocking, pacifiers or soothing talk.
• Pulls at his ears or shows signs of ear pain.
• Is not better or has a feeling of tiredness and weakness after three days.
• Has any fever and is less than 3 months old, or has a fever lasting longer than three days in older babies.

Call if your baby:

• Is unable to breathe and suck at the same time or chokes when he sucks.

Also call if you:

• See signs of dehydration (drying out):
• No urine for six to eight hours in an infant younger than one year old
• No urine in more than eight hours in a child older than one year old
• No tears when crying
• Sunken eyes
• Dry lips and mouth
• See bloody saliva, phlegm or mucus.
• Have any questions or concerns about how your child looks or feels.

Continue Learning about Cold and Flu

Cold and Flu

Cold and Flu

Colds and flu are both viral infections, but have different symptoms. With a cold you will have symptoms such as a runny nose or a sore throat. Flu symptoms come on suddenly and may include fever, body aches or vomiting. While the...

re is no cure for either, there are treatments -- chicken soup, nasal sprays, rest -- which can help your feel better.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.