Do you have a cold or the flu? And do you need to go to a GP?

The unseasonally warm autumn may be tricking you into thinking it is still summer. Yet, as we head into April, we have truly entered cold and flu season.

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But, how do you know when your common cold is actually something worse? And at what point do you need to emerge from under your pile of tissues on the couch and create a new pile in the waiting room of your doctor’s office?

Dr Sara Whitburn, spokesperson for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners says that while the common cold and the flu do share some symptoms, the flu can “come on more suddenly and the symptoms can be more severe”.

In addition to a running nose and a cough, symptoms of the flu include a fever, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and, in more severe cases, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Although they may make you feel crummy, Dr Whitburn says most cases of the common cold, and even the flu, do not require a trip to the doctor’s office.