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Common Cold Care

Do you need to come to an urgent care clinic to treat a cold? Probably not.


  • You think it might be the flu
  • Your symptoms last longer than about a week

What’s the Difference Between a Cold and the Flu?

Although a cold shares many of the same symptoms as the flu, there are differences.

  • A fever typically accompanies the flu
  • Muscle aches and extreme fatigue are more common with the flu
  • Runny nose and congestion are more common in colds than flu
  • Sneezing and coughing are often present in both
  • Symptoms are generally milder in colds
  • The flu can last for weeks while a cold usually fades within less than a week

Most of the time, the presence of a fever is what lets you know that you have the flu rather than just a cold. If you suspect you have the flu, you should get treatment immediately. In some cases, the flu can develop into bronchitis, pneumonia, or a sinus infection. Antiviral drugs are often prescribed to treat the flu. The best way to avoid getting the flu is to get a flu vaccine every year before flu season starts.

In most cases of the common cold, rest and increased fluid intake is the only recommendation, though you may take over-the-counter antihistamines to decrease congestion.

Avoiding Colds

The best way to keep yourself from catching a cold is to wash your hands regularly and keep your distance from people who have cold symptoms. Although some people believe that if you don’t have a fever, you’re okay to go to work or school, it’s better to stay home and rest if you can—this will help speed up your recovery while allowing your body to take a break.

Urgent Care for Colds?

Bottom line: in most cases, you don’t need to seek treatment for a cold at an urgent care clinic. But if you are at all concerned about the severity of your symptoms, you should definitely come in—especially if you think you may have the flu.

Questions about the common cold? Call Fast Track Urgent Care at 800-417-1164. Or visit one of our Silver Spring walk-in clinic locations.

Additional Services from Fast Track Urgent Care

  • Flu shots – Don’t let the flu slow you down! Both of our walk-in clinics can administer the flu shot and the flu mist.
  • School physicals – Get your kids ready to start the school year or enroll in a new school.
  • Sports physicals – Don’t risk losing eligibility—get your sports physical on time!
  • Workers comp treatment – When you get hurt on the job, immediate treatment is a must.
  • STD testing – We provide discreet, professional testing for sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Weight loss treatment – Learn more about our physician-supervised program for healthy weight loss.