When to see a doctor

By Mayo Clinic Staff

For adults – seek medical attention if:

  • Your symptoms last more than 10 days.
  • You have a high fever.
  • Your nasal discharge is yellow or green and you also have sinus pain or fever. This may be a sign of a bacterial infection.
  • You have blood in your nasal discharge or a persistent clear discharge after a head injury.

For children – seek medical attention if:

  • Your child is younger than 2 months and has a fever.
  • Your baby's runny nose or congestion causes trouble nursing or makes breathing difficult.


Until you see your doctor, try these simple steps to relieve symptoms:

  • Try sniffing and swallowing or gently blowing your nose.
  • Avoid known allergic triggers.
  • If your runny nose is a persistent, watery discharge, particularly if you're also sneezing and have itchy or watery eyes, your symptoms may be allergy-related, and an over-the-counter antihistamine may help. Be sure to follow the label instructions exactly.
  • For babies and small children, use a soft, rubber-bulb syringe to gently remove any secretions.

To relieve postnasal drip — when excess saliva (mucus) builds up in the back of your throat – try these measures:

  • Avoid common irritants such as cigarette smoke and sudden humidity changes.
  • Drink plenty of water because fluid helps thin nasal secretions.
  • Try nasal saline sprays or rinses.
Feb. 16, 2019

See also

  1. Acute sinusitis
  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. Avoid rebound nasal congestion
  9. Broken nose
  10. Bronchiolitis
  11. Can chicken soup cure a cold?
  12. Chicken soup: Can it treat a cold?
  13. Chronic cough
  14. Chronic daily headaches
  15. Chronic sinusitis
  16. Cluster headache
  17. Cold and flu viruses: How long can they live outside the body?
  18. Cold or allergy: Which is it?
  19. Cold remedies
  20. Cold symptoms: Does drinking milk increase phlegm?
  21. Common cold
  22. Common cold in babies
  23. Cystic fibrosis
  24. Does honey really help with allergies?
  25. Does zinc work for colds?
  26. Drug addiction (substance use disorder)
  27. Dust mite allergy
  28. Echinacea: Is it effective for the common cold?
  29. Flu shots
  30. Flu: When to see a doctor?
  31. Fluzone High-Dose: What distinguishes it from other flu vaccines?
  32. Food allergies: Labels
  33. Food allergy
  34. Can adults develop a food allergy?
  35. Food allergy or intolerance?
  36. Group B strep disease
  37. Have a cold? Common sense rules
  38. Have a cold? Fight back with humidity
  39. Have a cold? Fight it with fluids
  40. Headaches 101: Know your type
  41. Headaches and hormones
  42. Headaches in children
  43. Headaches: Treatment depends on your diagnosis and symptoms
  44. How well do you wash your hands?
  45. Humidifier care 101
  46. Humidifiers
  47. Influenza (flu)
  48. Is antibacterial soap a do or a don't?
  49. Infographic: Lung Transplant for Cystic Fibrosis
  50. Mayo Clinic Minute: The facts about three flu vaccine myths
  51. Mayo Clinic Minute: Why you need your flu shot now
  52. Medication overuse headaches
  53. Nasal Cleaning
  54. Nasal spray addiction: Is it real?
  55. Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
  56. Neti pot: Can it clear your nose?
  57. Neti pot solution: Can I make my own?
  58. Nighttime headaches: Relief
  59. Nonallergic rhinitis
  60. Oil of oregano: Can it treat sinusitis?
  61. Pain Management
  62. Pet allergy
  63. Pet allergy: Are there hypoallergenic dog breeds?
  64. Plugged ears: What is the remedy?
  65. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  66. Rubella
  67. Shellfish allergy
  68. Sinus headaches
  69. Sinus infection and toothache: Any connection?
  70. Stress and headaches: Stop the cycle
  71. Stuffy nose? Try saline spray
  72. Vicks VapoRub: An effective nasal decongestant?
  73. Vitamin C: Can it prevent colds?
  74. Warm-mist versus cool-mist humidifier: Which is better for a cold?
  75. Wheat allergy
  76. Whooping cough
  77. Whooping cough
  78. Do zinc supplements shorten colds?