The miseries tied to a common cold – sore throat, stuffy head, drippy nose – are no fun. Yet these uncomfortable symptoms are far from the worst of it. Catching a cold could set you up for a deadly super infection.
Pneumonia, strep, asthma, acute bacterial sinusitis are just a few of the potentially serious illnesses you can develop on top of a little cold. And while the common cold lasts only about 3-7 days, debilitating super infections can last for weeks, sometimes months, and in some cases, they can even be fatal.
What is a Super Infection?
A super infection is a secondary illness that strikes when your body is still busy fighting off an initial bug like a cold.
There are at least 200 cold viruses that can worm their way into your system, infiltrating your healthy cells. In defense, your body’s immune system sends out an army of white blood cells, including B and T cells, to conquer invaders. But while these troops are busy fighting off the relatively harmless cold virus, you become more susceptible to stronger, nastier germs – a super infection.
A Bad Cold Vs. a Super Infection
Whenever you have a cold or the flu, you run through symptoms then start to feel better. In the case of a super infection, you may feel as if you’ve recovered before a second wave of symptoms suddenly hits.
People with chronic health conditions like diabetes, obesity or even cardiovascular disease are more susceptible to super infections. But virulent strains of virus such as the 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak can cause super infections even in healthy young people.
To determine if your cold has turned into a super infection, you need to know where these nasty invaders are most likely to strike.