Complications of the Common Cold
Sore Throat and Tonsillitis
Sore throats are common when you have a cold. With a sore throat, it can be hard to swallow and eating may be uncomfortable. While a sore throat with a cold is usually caused by a virus, strep throat is a common bacterial infection caused by the streptococcus bacteria. Tonsillitis, which is also painful, is caused by either a virus or bacterium (usually Streptococcus pyogenes). Call your doctor if your sore throat is not getting better or is very painful.
For in-depth information, see WebMD’s article on Sore Throat: Cold, Strep Throat, or Tonsillitis?
Colds and Ear Infections
Ear infections are another common cold complication. Viruses cause up to 80% of ear infections, and antibiotics have no effect on these. For the bacterial-related infections, the culprit is usually the Streptococcus bacteria, which causes more than 7 million cases of ear infection each year in the U.S. With an ear infection, you may have ear pain, difficulty sleeping, trouble hearing, fever, or ear drainage.
For in-depth information, see WebMD's article on Earache: Cold or Ear Infection?
Colds and Chronic Medical Conditions
If you have a chronic illness such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, emphysema, or HIV/AIDS, catching a cold can lead to a more serious health problem. That’s why it’s important to know the prevention and treatment steps to take before you come down with cold symptoms.
For in-depth information, see WebMD’s Colds and Chronic Medical Conditions.
When to Call the Doctor About Common Cold Complications
If you or your child has any of the following symptoms, seek care from your doctor:
If you develop one of these common cold complications, you may need antibiotics or other medicines to treat it.