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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  3. Alcohol intolerance
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  7. Aspergillosis
  8. Avoid rebound nasal congestion
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  11. Can chicken soup cure a cold?
  12. Chicken soup: Can it treat a cold?
  13. Chronic cough
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  15. Chronic sinusitis
  16. Cluster headache
  17. Cold and flu viruses: How long can they live outside the body?
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  29. Flu shots
  30. Flu: When to see a doctor?
  31. Food allergy
  32. Food allergy or intolerance?
  33. Group B strep disease
  34. Have a cold? Common sense rules
  35. Have a cold? Fight back with humidity
  36. Have a cold? Fight it with fluids
  37. Headaches 101: Know your type
  38. Headaches and hormones
  39. Headaches in children
  40. Headaches: Treatment depends on your diagnosis and symptoms
  41. High-dose flu vaccines: How are they different from other flu vaccines?
  42. Humidifier care 101
  43. Humidifiers
  44. Influenza (flu)
  45. Infographic: Lung Transplant for Cystic Fibrosis
  46. Medication overuse headaches
  47. Nasal Cleaning
  48. Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
  49. Neti pot: Can it clear your nose?
  50. Nighttime headaches: Relief
  51. Nonallergic rhinitis
  52. Pain Management
  53. Pet allergy
  54. Plugged ears: What is the remedy?
  55. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  56. Rubella
  57. Shellfish allergy
  58. Sinus headaches
  59. Sinus infection and toothache: Any connection?
  60. Stress and headaches: Stop the cycle
  61. Stuffy nose? Try saline spray
  62. Vicks VapoRub: An effective nasal decongestant?
  63. Vitamin C: Can it prevent colds?
  64. Warm-mist versus cool-mist humidifier: Which is better for a cold?
  65. Wheat allergy
  66. Whooping cough
  67. Whooping cough
  68. Do zinc supplements shorten colds?