When to see a doctor

By Mayo Clinic Staff

For adults — See a health care provider if:

  • You have symptoms for more than 10 days.
  • You have a high fever.
  • What's coming from your nose is yellow or green. You also have sinus pain or fever. This may be a sign of a bacterial infection.
  • What's coming from your nose is bloody. Or your nose keeps running after a head injury.
  • Your face hurts.

For children — See a health care provider if:

  • Your child's symptoms don't get better or get worse.
  • Your baby's stuffy nose causes problems with nursing or breathing.


Until you see a care provider, try these simple steps to relieve symptoms:

  • Avoid allergy causes.
  • Try an allergy medicine you can get without a prescription. If you're also sneezing and your eyes are itching or watering, your nose might be running because of allergies. Be sure to follow the label instructions exactly.
  • For babies, put several saline drops into one nostril. Then gently suction that nostril with a soft rubber-bulb syringe.

To relieve saliva that builds up at the back of the throat, also known as postnasal drip, try these measures:

  • Avoid common irritants such as cigarette smoke and sudden humidity changes.
  • Drink plenty of liquids, such as water, juice or broth. Liquids help break up congestion.
  • Use nasal saline sprays or rinses.

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March 02, 2023

See also

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  2. Acute sinusitis: Do over-the-counter treatments help?
  3. Alcohol intolerance
  4. Allergies
  5. Allergy medications: Know your options
  6. Allergy-proof your home
  7. Aspergillosis
  8. Broken nose
  9. Bronchiolitis
  10. Chronic cough
  11. Chronic daily headaches
  12. Chronic sinusitis
  13. Cluster headache
  14. Cold and flu viruses: How long can they live outside the body?
  15. Cold or allergy: Which is it?
  16. Cold remedies
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  18. Common cold
  19. Common cold in babies
  20. Cystic fibrosis
  21. What is cystic fibrosis? A Mayo Clinic expert explains
  22. Cystic fibrosis FAQs
  23. Drug addiction (substance use disorder)
  24. Dust mite allergy
  25. Flu shots
  26. Flu: When to see a doctor?
  27. Food allergy
  28. Food allergy or intolerance?
  29. Group B strep disease
  30. Headaches and hormones
  31. Headaches in children
  32. Headaches: Treatment depends on your diagnosis and symptoms
  33. High-dose flu vaccines: How are they different from other flu vaccines?
  34. Humidifiers
  35. Influenza (flu)
  36. Mayo Clinic Minute: Why getting vaccinated for the flu is doubly important this season
  37. Medication overuse headaches
  38. Nasal Cleaning
  39. Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
  40. Neti pot: Can it clear my nose?
  41. Nighttime headaches: Relief
  42. Nonallergic rhinitis
  43. Pain Management
  44. Pet allergy
  45. Plugged ears: What is the remedy?
  46. Poppy seed tea: Beneficial or dangerous?
  47. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  48. Rubella
  49. Shellfish allergy
  50. Sinus headaches
  51. Sinus infection and toothache: Any connection?
  52. Vicks VapoRub: An effective nasal decongestant?
  53. Warm-mist versus cool-mist humidifier: Which is better for a cold?
  54. Wheat allergy
  55. Whooping cough
  56. Whooping cough
  57. Xylazine
  58. Do zinc supplements shorten colds?