Sniffling and sneezing are one thing. A fever and mouth sores are something totally different. These four symptoms mean it's time to call the doctor when your kid is sick.

Sick Boy with Mother Checking Temperature
Credit: Rido/Shutterstock

When cold and flu season sets in, we know the number one priority is keeping your family healthy. Even if you're doing everything to prevent your kid from getting sick, sometimes sickness strikes. And when it does, you have to be ready.

Arm yourself with these expert all-natural cold remedies, but be sure that the symptoms below which could mean things have gotten worse are top of mind. Here's what to look out for and when to call a doctor when your kid has a cold:

A Fever

A fever of 102 degrees F for more than 3 days, nasal secretions for more than 10 days, and facial pain.

What It Could Mean: A sinus infection, which occurs when the air pockets in the bones around the nose and cheeks become filled with bacteria- or virus-infected fluid.

What to Expect: If the doctor believes it's a bacterial infection, he'll prescribe an antibiotic.

An Ear Ache

Your child says his ear hurts (or is pulling his ear), is very fussy, or has a fever for 4 or more days.

What It Could Mean: An ear infection, a common complication in babies and toddlers, whose small eustachian tubes can swell and trap fluid.

What to Expect: If there's fluid or pus in his ear, he may have an infection that will respond to antibiotics. Since most ear infections go away on their own, your doctor may wait a few days to see if your child gets better.


Look out for wheezing AKA a raspy sound when your child breathes, or a dry cough that gets worse with exertion.

What It Could Mean: Asthma. Although colds don't cause asthma, having a cold will trigger wheezing in about two-thirds of asthmatic kids.

What to Expect: Your doctor can tell the difference between regular congestion and wheezing by listening to the lungs with a stethoscope. If your child is wheezing, your doctor may prescribe an inhalable asthma drug.

Painful blisters on the mouth

What It Could Mean: Cold sores, which typically last 7 days. Although they may crop up along with a cold, they are actually caused by herpes simplex virus type 1.

What to Expect: They aren't serious—more than 90 percent of adults carry the virus—but they can be transmitted through skin (or saliva) contact. The prescription drug acyclovir can shorten the course of the infection.