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What if my child’s cold seems serious?

Answered by Dr Ellie Cannon
8th September 2015

In general, a cold should not keep you or your child from going about your normal routine. Cold symptoms usually last for about a week but get better over the period of a few days. The most common symptoms include sore throat, cough, stuffy or runny nose, and sneezing. Younger children and children with a cough can have symptoms that last up to a few weeks. If you’re concerned, get in touch with your GP.

You should contact your GP when:

  • Your baby is less than three months old and has a temperature over 38°C
  • Their symptoms last more than 10 days
  • They have difficulty breathing
  • They have nasal pain after two to four days of treatment
  • They have a severe earache
  • They have throat pain for more than three or four days, or the pain seems unusually bad
  • Other symptoms develop, like pain or swelling in face or chest, or a headache
  • Their symptoms are getting worse, rather than better
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