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How do I know if my illness is something more than the common cold?

ANSWER

Because the common cold weakens your immune system, it can increase the risk of a bacterial super infection of your sinuses, inner ear or lungs. Community acquired pneumonias can start as a common cold. If symptoms get worse, rather than better, after three to seven days, you may have acquired a bacterial infection. These symptoms can also be caused by a cold virus other than a rhinovirus.

Usually there is no fever; in fact, fever and more severe symptoms may indicate that you have the flu rather than a cold.

SOURCES:

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: "Common Cold."

Palo Alto Medical Foundation: "The Common Cold."

University of Virginia Health System: "Upper Respiratory Infection (URI or Common Cold)."

National Jewish Medical and Research Center: "Getting Well When You Have a Cold or the Flu."

Medline Plus: "Common Cold."

FDA: "Colds and Flu: Time only Sure Cure."

American Lung Association: "A Survival Guide for Preventing and Treating Influenza and the Common Cold."

UpToDate.

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson on April 2, 2019

SOURCES:

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: "Common Cold."

Palo Alto Medical Foundation: "The Common Cold."

University of Virginia Health System: "Upper Respiratory Infection (URI or Common Cold)."

National Jewish Medical and Research Center: "Getting Well When You Have a Cold or the Flu."

Medline Plus: "Common Cold."

FDA: "Colds and Flu: Time only Sure Cure."

American Lung Association: "A Survival Guide for Preventing and Treating Influenza and the Common Cold."

UpToDate.

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson on April 2, 2019

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