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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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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.

Recommended Related to Cold & Flu

Prevent Flu: Soap Away Germs

An icky fact: That elevator button or door knob you just touched? It likely has flu germs on it. If you're avoiding the flu, take note. Then wash those hands. Do it the right way -- and do it often, several times a day! It's true -- germs can live on any surface for two hours or more. If someone in your office or school is infected, those germs can reside on anything they've touched -- desks, phones, coffee pots, microwaves, cafeteria tables, toys, books. When flu prevention experts advise you...

Read the Prevent Flu: Soap Away Germs article > >

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
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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