Cold Assessment

Do you have a cold?

Complete this self-assessment checklist for colds to find out! It will help determine whether or not you should make an appointment with a health care provider. Plus, it provides some simple self-care strategies for avoiding colds. (See disclaimer.)

Before you begin the assessment, you'll need to do a self-exam. The self-exam requires the following:

  • Mirror
  • Thermometer
  • Flashlight
  • Facial Tissue


  1. Take your temperature and record your results.
  2. Go to a mirror and view your throat with a flashlight. Note the findings.
  3. Feel your neck and see if you have swollen glands and/or see if it is tender. Also, touch your chin to your chest.
  4. Push on your face at your forehead and cheeks to determine if there is tenderness at these sites.
  5. Blow your nose to see if there is congestion. If so, note any color.
  6. Cough and see if you are able to bring up phlegm. If so, note any color.


Now you are ready to do the assessment. You may find it helpful to print this checklist. Place a checkmark next to the item in either column A or B (or click the button) that most closely fits your symptoms.

Symptom Column A Column B
1.   Fever Less than 100.5 More than 100.5 for 3
2.   Sore throat that lasts all      day No Yes
3.   Sore throat for more than 7
No Yes
4.   Sore throat with white
No Yes
5.   Swollen glands No Yes
6.   Neck tenderness Less than 3 days More than 3 days
7.   Able to touch chin to chest Yes No
8.   Facial tenderness No or mild Moderate or severe
9.   Colored nasal mucous Less than 5 days More than 5 days
10. Cough during day hours

Less than 72 hours

Clear to yellow

More than 72 hours with fever

Yellow or green for more than 72 hours


11.  Cough during day hours
       with no other symptoms for
       more than 2 weeks
No Yes
12.  Breathing difficulties No Yes
13.  Wheezing No Yes
14.  Chest pain with cough No Yes
15.  Headaches Mild to moderate Severe

16. Ear pain (pressure or

  No or mild

  No or occasional


  Moderate or severe

  Yes, more than 7 days


17.  Fatigue Less than 7 days More than 7 days
18.  Red rash over body No Yes
19.  Persistent vomiting No Yes


If all of your check marks are in column A, check out the Self-Care Guide to a Common Cold.

If you have any checks in column B, please make an appointment with the Health and Wellness Center.

What You Need to Know about Colds

There are several different viruses that can infect the upper respiratory tract, nose, throat, and larynx that cause the common cold. Antibiotics are not effective in treating the common cold. Colds usually resolve themselves in 1 to 2 weeks whether they are treated or not. Sharing drinks, shaking hands, kissing, hand to hand contact, and inhaling saliva from an infected person may lead to infection. Also, poor nutrition, lack of rest, alcohol use, and smoking may inhibit your body's defense against the common cold. The most important step you can take to avoid a cold is to stay healthy by having a good diet, washing your hands frequently, exercising, and getting plenty of rest.

If you have a history of asthma, diabetes, rheumatic fever, tuberculosis, take an immunosuppressant drug, or have had an splenectomy, you should make an appointment to see a health care provider.

Disclaimer: The information found on this site is intended as educational information only. You SHOULD NOT rely on the information to make any medical or other decisions for treatment. Any medical or other decisions should be made in consultation with your health care provider. The Health and Wellness Center will not be liable for any complication, injuries or other medical accidents arising from or in connection with the use of or reliance upon any information on the Web.