Can you get a fever with a cold?

Reviewed by Theresa H. Care Delivery Manager & Family Nurse Practitioner

Time saver 3 min read

It’s that time of year again. When symptoms like sneezing, nasal congestion, watery eyes, a runny nose and scratchy throat set in. That’s right, it’s cold season. But what if your cold symptoms include a higher than normal temperature. Should you be worried? Is a fever a normal cold symptom?

Is it normal to spike a fever with a cold?

While a fever isn’t considered a common cold symptom, everyone’s immune systems and bodies are different and some people may spike a low-grade fever (99.6°F – 100.3°F) as a cold settles in. Fevers tend to get a bad rap, but they aren’t all bad. In fact, a fever is really just a sign that your immune system is healthy and working to fight off the virus that’s causing your cold.

How to fight a cold

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), annually adults typically experience two to three colds and kids get even more. If you feel a cold coming on, it’s important to get plenty of rest, drink lots of water and give your body time to heal. Also, eating nutrient-dense foods that are easy-to-digest can help support your immune system so it can do its job.

You can also relieve cold symptoms with the right mix of over-the-counter meds.

Ways to relieve cold symptoms

  • Soothe soreness - Take ibuprofen and suck on throat lozenges to quiet sore throat pain
  • Turn down the heat - Lower your internal temperature by taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Clear your head - Use decongestants and nasal sprays to clear sinus and nasal congestion
  • Calm coughs - Thin mucus and promote drainage by taking an expectorant like Mucinex and – if needed – a cough suppressant at night

When a fever is cause for concern

A fever can be a sign of an infection. The question is, what kind of infection? Colds rarely involve a fever higher than 101°F, and fevers associated with colds typically subside within a few days. But colds can be sneaky and lead to other conditions where you’re likely to spike a fever including bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections. These types of conditions also require different treatments that may include antibiotics to fight off a bacterial infection.

A fever can also be a common sign of COVID-19, the seasonal flu and other common respiratory viruses. That’s why it’s important to keep track of your symptoms, especially if you notice they’re getting worse.

To reduce the chances of infection and severe illness, make sure you’re up to date on your flu and COVID vaccinations. And, if you think you may have COVID, get tested as soon as possible. At-home tests are available at most pharmacies.

– Theresa H., CNP for Virtuwell

Online treatment for colds

When you’re feeling congested and under the weather, the last thing you want to do is make an unnecessary trip into a clinic. Virtuwell’s online clinic is a fast, easy and affordable way to get the answers and treatment you need to feel better, faster – all without leaving home.

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