Can a Cold or Flu Cause Pneumonia?

Some flu seasons hit harder than others. Vaccination and good hygiene are key in preventing the spread of cold and flu, but sometimes there’s nothing you can do to stop illness from setting in. While colds or influenza are often treatable at home with over-the-counter medicine you shouldn’t take these illnesses lightly. These illnesses can lead to serious complications, including pneumonia.

Can a cold or flu become pneumonia?

We often hear that a cold or flu turned into pneumonia. That’s not accurate. However, pneumonia can develop as a secondary bacterial infection after the flu or a cold. Pneumonia, ear infections, and bronchitis can all result from flu or cold.

Bacterial infections are the most common cause of pneumonia in adults. Bacterial pneumonia causes the alveoli of the lungs to become inflamed and fill with fluid. Pneumonia can affect one or both of the lungs.

What are the symptoms of pneumonia?

Symptoms of pneumonia can vary. They may resemble common cold and flu symptoms, including fever, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and coughing up phlegm or mucus.

Symptoms of pneumonia can be mild or severe. It’s easy to mistake pneumonia as a stubborn cold or flu that won’t go away. It’s incredibly important, however, to catch pneumonia early on to prevent serious complications.

Talk to a doctor if you have difficulty breathing, you have a persistent fever, or if you have symptoms that do not get better after a few days.

How can you prevent pneumonia?

Many cases of pneumonia result from complications of a cold or the flu. This means that preventing these illnesses can help prevent pneumonia.

  • Get a flu shot each year to help prevent the spread of flu, and reduce flu symptoms.
  • Wash your hands often, and wash them well. You can’t wash your hands too much during cold and flu season.
  • You can usually treat colds at home, but you should visit the doctor if you suspect that you or someone in your home has the flu. A doctor can provide you with medication that may help shorten the duration of your illness, and prevent complications such as pneumonia.

Visit a MANA clinic today

Even healthy people can get the flu and suffer complications from the flu. Don’t take your chances with pneumonia. Get your flu shot today, and talk your doctor if you suspect that you have the flu, or if you have cold symptoms that last more than a few days.

myMANA makes scheduling appointments easy, and MediServe Walk-In clinics are are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. 7 days a week for your convenience. 

Our pediatric walk-in clinic is open Monday – Friday 8 am to 7:30 pm and Saturday 8 am to 11 am. 

Several Family Medicine clinics and Fayetteville Diagnostic Clinic offer walk-in hours as well or you can request a same day appointment.