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. 27, 2021

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
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  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
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  21. Common cold
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  23. Cystic fibrosis
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  26. Drug addiction (substance use disorder)
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  28. Echinacea: Is it effective for the common cold?
  29. Flu shots
  30. Flu: When to see a doctor?
  31. Food allergies: Labels
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  33. Can adults develop a food allergy?
  34. Food allergy or intolerance?
  35. Group B strep disease
  36. Have a cold? Common sense rules
  37. Have a cold? Fight back with humidity
  38. Have a cold? Fight it with fluids
  39. Headaches 101: Know your type
  40. Headaches and hormones
  41. Headaches in children
  42. Headaches: Treatment depends on your diagnosis and symptoms
  43. High-dose flu vaccines: How are they different from other flu vaccines?
  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. Medication overuse headaches
  51. Nasal Cleaning
  52. Nasal spray addiction: Is it real?
  53. Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
  54. Neti pot: Can it clear your nose?
  55. Neti pot solution: Can I make my own?
  56. Nighttime headaches: Relief
  57. Nonallergic rhinitis
  58. Oil of oregano: Can it treat sinusitis?
  59. Pain Management
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  62. Plugged ears: What is the remedy?
  63. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
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  66. Sinus headaches
  67. Sinus infection and toothache: Any connection?
  68. Stress and headaches: Stop the cycle
  69. Stuffy nose? Try saline spray
  70. Vicks VapoRub: An effective nasal decongestant?
  71. Vitamin C: Can it prevent colds?
  72. Warm-mist versus cool-mist humidifier: Which is better for a cold?
  73. Wheat allergy
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