Do you have a cold — or is it the flu? If you're not sure which virus you have, take a look at the reasons to schedule a doctor's office visit.

You Have a Fever

How high of a fever should send you to the medical provider? According to the Mayo Clinic, an adult's fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit is cause for concern. But this doesn't mean you should wait for your temperature to spike before you call your doctor with suspected flu symptoms.

There are several factors that should impact your fever-related decision to see a doctor. These include the length of the fever (more than 48 hours), whether it responds to over the counter medications, and other symptoms. A fever combined with a headache, sore throat, muscle aches, and fatigue could indicate the flu. If you have any concerns, always contact a medical provider as soon as possible.

You Have a Cough

While a cough can result from the post-nasal drip you experience with a common cold, it's also a symptom of the flu (or flu-related complications, such as pneumonia). If your cough doesn't resolve on its own, you have difficulty breathing, you're wheezing, you cough up blood, or you have a fever, it's time to see the doctor.

You Have Congestion

Like a cough, congestion is a symptom of both a cold and the flu. A stuffy nose is more common with a cold. If you only nasal congestion and don't have a fever, chances are you have a cold and not the flu. But if you have nasal or chest congestion, fatigue, chills, muscle aches, and a fever, you may have the flu.

If you have congestion in combination with other symptoms, difficulty breathing, or are wheezing, call the doctor for an evaluation and diagnosis.

You Have a Rapid Onset of Symptoms

Sometimes it's not the symptoms that are cause for concern. Even though the cold and flu share many symptoms, a cold typically develops over time. You may experience a sore throat, then a stuffy/runny nose, and possibly a low-grade fever as the illness persists. In comparison, flu symptoms strike quickly. Symptoms that start or worsen without warning warrant a call to the doctor's office.

Whether you have a fever, cough, or congestion, it isn't always easy to distinguish cold symptoms from the flu. When in doubt, contact your doctor for an appointment. While a cold typically requires little to no treatment, the doctor may prescribe an antiviral to shorten the duration of the flu, reduce the severity of symptoms, or decrease the chances of complications.

For more information, reach out to a local doctor's office.