Cold and Flu FAQs

Are you or your child sick with cold and flu symptoms and not sure what to do and when to see the doctor?

Our doctors have compiled a list of commonly asked cold and flu questions to help you understand when to see a doctor and when to rest at home.

Can I have a phone or video appointment for my symptoms?

Telephone and video appointments are very useful for monitoring and treating most viral illnesses.

Phone/video allow us to hear your story, assess your symptoms and work out a treatment plan. If further face-to-face assessment is needed we will arrange it for that day. We would encourage most people to begin with a phone/video appointment.

Do I need Antibiotics?

If you have had a runny nose and fever for under five days you are unlikely to need antibiotics. Ongoing fever over 38C and cough for more than 5 days may suggest a bacterial chest infection which would need antibiotics. Children who have a moist cough for more than four weeks without another illness in between may need antibiotics.

Sinus infections are considered to be caused by a viral illness unless you have a fever over 38C and pain on only one side. Viral sinus infections can be managed with treatments other than antibiotics and your doctor can discuss these options with you.

I have green snot. Do I need antibiotics?

No. Green snot is a sign that your bodies immune system is working. Its making immune soldiers (antibodies) to fight off the infection. We used to think that green snot was a sign of a bacterial infection and antibiotics were needed, however we now know that is not the case.

I am coughing up green sputum. Do I need antibiotics?

No. Green snot is a sign that your bodies immune system is working. Its making immune soldiers (antibodies) to fight off the infection. Signs that you may need antibiotics are if you have a fever and cough without a runny nose or other symptoms of a cold.

Can you give me something to treat my cough?

Unfortunately there is limited evidence to support treatments for a cough. In fact some over-the-counter medication can be harmful. There is a small amount of evidence for honey in the evening helping reduce coughing. Staying warm and avoiding cold environments will lessen triggers for coughing.

What can I do to treat my symptoms?

Cough, cold, runny nose, muscle aches, fatigue and headaches from viral illnesses are best treated with rest, healthy food and plenty of fluids. Panadol can help you to feel better but does not speed up how quickly you recover. Cold and flu tablets do not help you get better any quicker. The best treatment is time and letting your immune system fight off the infection.

When should I see a doctor?

Please see your doctor if you have a fever for more than five days, have a cough for more than 4 weeks, develop a rash or are feeling worried.

Is fever in children harmful?

Fever is not harmful. It is a sign that the immune system is trying to clear infection. Paracetamol is only needed in order to keep your child feeling comfortable so that they can maintain their fluids (drinking plenty). There is no reason to try and treat with paracetamol or ibuprofen in order to prevent the fever.

If I don’t treat the fever will my child have a febrile convulsion?

Febrile convulsions are not related to the childs temperature but rather a combination of genetic predisposition (this means someone in the family probably had febrile convulsions as a child also) and the speed at which the fever occurred. There is no evidence that giving paracetamol stops a febrile convulsion from happening.

Febrile convulsions are very scary for parents. If you are concerned about this happening please discuss with your GP.

What are signs that I should see a doctor when my child is sick?

Is very common for children to have a cough at least every 3 to 4 weeks particularly in the first few years of life.

You should have an appointment with your GP if your child;

  • has had a fever for 5 days or more
  • is not drinking normally
  • is not breathing normally
  • has a rash
  • has had less than half their normal wet nappies
  • You are feeling worried or uncertain as to what you should do to care for them.

You should take your child to the emergency department if;

  • They are struggling to breathe
  • They are under 3 months of age and have a fever. Fever in children under the age of 3 months can signal a serious bacterial infection and needs urgent assessment.
  • You are really worried and don’t think that they can wait until the morning to be seen by your GP.

I just don’t feel certain. Should I book an appointment?

Doctors working from Pear Tree Family Practice are happy to see any child or adult, at any point in time, if you do not feel confident in managing what is happening.

For new parents, sometimes it can take practice knowing what is serious and what is not in young children and also how to help your child. Talking with your GP will help you do this. Education about how to manage symptoms in young children is an important part of what we do. We want to help you gain confidence in caring for your child when they are sick

Book an appointment here