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Common Cold and Flu Complications

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Updated June 13, 2014

General practice doctor examining old woman's ear using otoscope
Science Photo Library - IAN HOOTON/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Colds and the flu typically last about a week. But if your symptoms have lasted longer than that and start to change, you may be suffering from a secondary infection. These common complications of the cold and flu can leave you feeling pretty miserable. Here, we look at some of the most common cold and flu complications.

Bronchitis
A nagging cough that lasts longer than 2 weeks may be bronchitis. This infection may be treated in a variety of ways, so if you think you may have bronchitis, it is important to see your healthcare provider.

Pneumonia
A painful, productive cough may indicate pneumonia. It usually occurs after you have had an infection such as the cold or flu. Find out more about this serious illness.

Ear Infections
Ear infections are common after a cold or the flu. Adults can get them, but they are much more common in children. They can be quite painful but treatment options vary based on severity and age.

Sinus Infections
Sinus infections occur when mucous gets caught in the sinus cavities and gets infected. They can be very painful and affect people of all ages.

The Bottom Line

If you have had a cold or the flu but your symptoms have changed, worsened or have not improved after two weeks, you should see your healthcare provider. There are many complications that can occur from these illnesses, this is only a list of some of the most common. Your healthcare provider can help you determine what is causing your symptoms and any treatment that you might need.

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