Flu: Signs of Bacterial Infection

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Flu: Signs of Bacterial Infection

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

  • Yellow, green, rust-coloured, 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 (post-nasal drip).
  • 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 coloured rather than clear, and fever is also present.
  • Nasal drainage that changes from clear to coloured 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).

These infections may sometimes need treatment with antibiotics.

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Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology
Last Revised September 17, 2010

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