Do you need to schedule an office visit for a stuffy nose and sore throat? These common symptoms may send your child to the doctor. But what about adults? Take a look at the top reasons adults should contact a family care doctor about cold-like symptoms.
You Don't Have a Medical Degree
There's a reason your primary care physician (or PCP) has the letters M.D. after their name. The PCP spent years in medical school training to evaluate, diagnose, and treat a variety of illnesses and conditions. Even though your symptoms may seem completely common, your family PCP may pick up on something subtle you didn't notice.
Beyond the ability to understand the symptoms you're experiencing and accurately diagnose a potential illness, an M.D. can write a prescription if needed. While viral causes of stuffy noses and sore throats (such as a cold, Covid-19, or the flu) won't respond to antibiotics, a bacterial infection typically requires this type of prescription.
You Don't Know If You're Contagious
Can you easily spread an illness to your friends, family, co-workers, and household members by talking, sneezing, coughing, or breathing? If you don't have a doctor's diagnosis, you don't know if you're contagious — or how contagious you really are.
After the PCP diagnoses your illness, they can help you to understand what precautions you need to take (such as social distancing, staying home, or quarantining for a specific number of hours/days).
You Don't Know What Tests You Need
Do you have a contagious illness, an allergy, or something else? A stuffy nose and sore throat are common symptoms of many different viral and bacterial infections. These symptoms are also signs of a potential allergy. If the doctor suspects you have an infection, they may order a nasal swab or throat culture. But if they think an environmental/seasonal trigger is at fault, you may need a skin test to diagnose hay fever, allergic asthma, and other similar reactions.
You Don't Get Better
Your mildly stuffy nose and mild sore throat may not go away on their own. Your symptoms could stay the same for a week or they could get worse. Whether your symptoms persist as-is or you also develop a fever, cough, or other issues, you need to see your PCP. Cold-like symptoms that don't resolve on their own or get worse could indicate another type of infection or medical issue. You may need additional tests or prescription medication.