Why do viruses cause a recurrence of symptoms but bacterial infections do not?


I have recently had a really nasty ear infection which made me feel dreadful but didn’t impact on my MS symptoms but I then got a cough which has sent everything haywire. Is this because one is viral and one bacterial or is it just luck of the draw?



Hi Emma,

I don’t think your initial hypothesis (viral v. bacterial) is right.

I think any infection can cause a flare-up. Urinary tract infections, for example, are almost always bacterial, but cause symptom flare-ups for lots of people here.

For some reason, respiratory infections (along with UTIs) seem particularly likely to exacerbate symptoms.

But it might be down to something as simple as whether you have a temperature or not.

If the ear infection wasn’t accompanied by fever, but the cough was, that could explain the difference.

Actually, as you’ve had both recently, are you sure the cough and ear infection aren’t related?


Any rise in temperature accompanied by viral or bacterial infections is likely to cause an exacerbation of ms symptoms.