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 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).
  • 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).

These infections may sometimes need treatment with antibiotics.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Brian O'Brien, MD, FRCPC - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christine Hahn, MD - Infectious Disease, Epidemiology

Current as ofDecember 6, 2017

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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