Cold and cough are two of the most common health conditions we encounter throughout the year. General physicians across the country experience a surge in such cases when seasons change. While it is assumed that cold and cough are accentuated during the winter months, this is not always the case. People can encounter these issues at any time of the month.
If you have been struggling with such conditions, treating cold and cough with a general physician is the best way out. A general physician will diagnose you effectively and give you the right medication to recover. In some cases, cold and cough can lead to more serious health complications. Under such circumstances, a general physician will warn you about your condition and ask you to seek further help.
Apart from a few serious cases, cold and cough are not life-threatening conditions. All they lead to is discomfort and hamper the patient’s daily routine. Seeking proper medical care can help you recover from these conditions in a few days. Thanks to the advancements in telemedicine, you can receive virtual consultation for these conditions with Doctor on Call services. Here, you can interact with a general physician over a call (video or audio) and receive medical care from the comfort of your home.
Before going any further, let us briefly understand who a general physician is.
Who Is A General Physician?
A general physician is a doctor specializing in providing primary medical care to a wide range of patients. These doctors are also known as general practitioners and family physicians. Most family doctors in India are general physicians. They are easily approachable and can be consulted for almost all basic complications. From fever and flu to cough and cold, a general physician will diagnose and treat you effectively.
A general physician is often the first professional medical care a patient seeks. They offer preventive care, routine checkups, and diagnoses of common health complications. General physicians also deal with chronic health issues and refer their patients to specialists if the conditions at hand are too severe. With their wide range of knowledge and expertise, general physicians are responsible for the holistic well-being of their patients.
How Does A General Physician Diagnose Cold and Cough?
In most cases, a patient approaches a general physician after experiencing common cold and cough symptoms. The doctor then diagnoses their patient using one or more of these ways:
Firstly, the general physician will look into the patient’s symptoms. From a runny nose to accompanying fever, different symptoms and their severity have different implications for the diagnosis. Such assessment often serves as the base for further diagnosis. If the symptoms are mild, your general physician will prescribe the right medicines right away. If the symptoms seem severe, they may ask you to get further tests done.
After assessing the symptoms as told by the patient, a general physician will conduct a physical examination. This allows them to check signs like nasal congestion, swollen lymph nodes, redness in the throat, and more. The doctor will also monitor your breathing to give you suitable medical care.
Assessing Medical History
Two patients with different medical histories will need different treatment procedures even if they have the same symptoms. Along with analyzing symptoms and conducting a physical examination, a general physician will also ask their patients about their medical history. Does a patient often get sick when the weather changes? Have they or any of their family members encountered serious illnesses? Answers to these questions allow doctors to diagnose their patients better.
Along with analyzing the conditions at hand, a general physician will also diagnose their patients by eliminating conditions. Cold and cough symptoms often overlap with the symptoms of other conditions, such as sinus infections, allergies, influenza, etc. Your doctor will rule out these possibilities to zero in on cold and cough.
If the cold and cough symptoms seem serious, a general physician may ask you to get a few lab tests done. From blood tests to X-ray reports, these tests help your physician handle your condition better.
What Are The Common Cold And Cough Symptoms?
Before you seek help from a general physician, you should be looking out for the right symptoms indicating a cold or cough. Let us start by understanding a few common cold symptoms that should lead you to a general physician:
Stuffy or Runny Nose
This is the most common symptom of cold. As your nasal passages get inflamed, they make your nose stuffy. These symptoms are the primary indicators of a cold and should prompt you to take your health seriously.
Caused again by the inflammation of your nasal passage, sneezing accompanies a runny or stuffy nose. If your sneezing goes out of control, you should start making searches like, “general physician near me.”
If your cold has resulted from a viral infection, you may also experience a sore throat. This is caused due to throat irritation or postnasal drip as the virus infects your body.
Although we will get to cough later, it is a common symptom of cold. Irritation in your airways can lead to mild or moderate cough. If the cough is persistent, you should seek immediate medical care.
Cold is also accompanied by mild body aches. You may feel these aches as you move your hands or legs. However, these are not serious symptoms unless the pain persists.
A low-grade fever is common in patients suffering from cold. As your body gets infected by a virus, it increases its temperature to tackle it.
Let us now have a look at a few common cough symptoms:
Patients commonly experience a dry cough or a cough with mucus or phlegm. Depending on your illness’s cause, the cough can be mild or severe. Severe cough cases should be treated with urgency as they may be indicative of serious health complications.
When you cough consistently, it puts pressure on your chest muscles, leading to chest discomfort. While you may also feel slight pain in your chest, there is nothing you should worry about.
Shortness of Breath
Especially if your cough is caused because of underlying respiratory conditions, you may experience shortness of breath. Severe fits of coughing may also lead to the same symptom.
Cough patients also give off a wheezing sound when they breathe, especially if they are suffering from conditions like bronchitis and asthma. If you have been hearing a shrill sound while breathing out, you should consult your general physician at once.
How Does A General Physician Treat Cold And Cough?
The precise treatment procedure followed by doctors differs according to the patient’s condition and the general physician treating them. However, here are the most common ways in which a general physician tackled cold and cough:
In most cases, your general physician will give you over-the-counter medicines to ease the symptoms and treat your cold/cough. Common medications prescribed by physicians include pain relievers, decongestants, cough suppressants, antihistamines, and fever reducers.
Recommending Home Remedies
Self-care and home remedies are important keys to tackling conditions like cough and cold. Depending on your symptoms, your general physician will give you tips like staying hydrated, resting, saltwater gargles, nasal sprays, humidifiers, and more. Ensure that you follow these tips to relieve your symptoms in the best way possible.
Along with over-the-counter medications, a general physician may also prescribe specific medicines for your cold or cough. These medicines are suitable for tackling unique symptoms. For example, if your cold is a result of a bacterial infection, your general physician may prescribe antibiotics.
Finally, a general physician will monitor their patient’s condition over time and give them suitable advice. It is likely that your doctor will give you a date to follow up and contact them again. Ensure that you have a word with them about your progress over time. If your health does not seem to get better, your doctor may ask you to seek specialized help or get specific lab tests done.
When Should You Consult A General Physician For Cough or Cold?
You should consult a general physician for a cough or cold under the following circumstances:
• You are experiencing high fever along with other symptoms
• Your cold/cough symptoms are severe and persistent
• Your symptoms are getting worse with time
• You already have underlying conditions that need medical attention
Also check out: Tips to Help You Choose the Right Doctor for Your Medical Needs
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