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Flu: Signs of Bacterial Infection - Topic Overview

A bacterial infection may develop following infection with viral influenza. Signs of a bacterial infection include:

  • Ear pain that lasts more than 24 hours or severe ear pain that lasts longer than 1 hour.
  • A sore throat that lasts longer than 2 to 3 days despite home treatment and does not "act" like a cold.
  • Sinus pain that persists despite 2 to 4 days of home treatment, especially if nasal drainage is colored rather than clear and fever is also present.
  • Nasal drainage that changes from clear to colored after 5 to 7 days of flu, while other symptoms (such as sinus pain or fever) are getting worse.
  • A cough that lingers more than 7 to 10 days after other symptoms have cleared, especially if it is bringing up mucus (productive).
  • Yellow, green, rust-colored, or bloody mucus that is coughed up from the lungs, especially while other symptoms are getting worse. Mucus coughed up from the lungs is a more serious symptom than mucus that has drained down the back of the throat (postnasal drip).

These infections may sometimes need treatment with antibiotics.

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    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: July 09, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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