If your cold lasts much longer than two weeks or keeps coming back, allergies, sinusitis, or some other secondary infection may be the culprit.
“Fever is an important sign,” says Norman Edelman, MD, senior scientific advisor for the American Lung Association. “Colds usually aren’t associated with fever.” Adults with a fever of 102 F (39 C) or higher and children with a fever of 103 F (39.5 C) or higher, should see a doctor, Dr. Edelman advises.
If your infant is younger than 3 months old and has a fever of 100 F (37.8 C) or higher, go to the doctor immediately, says pediatrician Carlos Lerner, MD, medical director for children’s health at Mattel Children’s Hospital at University of California, Los Angeles. When in doubt, Dr. Lerner advises parents to give their doctor a call: “It’s worth getting some advice over the phone,” he says.
Colds can wear down your body’s natural defenses, leaving you vulnerable to health issues ranging from ear and sinus infections to strep throat, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Headaches, fever, and sinus pain could point to a sinus infection that requires treatment.
“Certainly if you’ve had a cold or sinus infection and now you’ve got a worsening headache and a fever, that needs to be seen,” says David Ross, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services in Colorado Springs, Colorado.