Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What do I do if diarrhea will not go away?"
I thought I was just sick with the flu at first but I have had diarrhea for two weeks straight. Starting to freak out! What could cause that? Could I really have the flu but only with the one symptom?
Diarrhea is often part of the constellation of symptoms caused by the influenza virus. However, it would be very unusual for you to have the flu if your only symptom is diarrhea, without accompanying fever, cough or muscle aches. Other viral infections causing gastroenteritis can manifest primarily with diarrhea, and some of these infections may linger to a period of about two weeks. Sometimes an infection of the bowels can lead to a post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome, which can cause diarrhea, bloating and abdominal discomfort. Other causes of persistent diarrhea include other infections, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease (intolerance of gluten), and lactose intolerance. If you are having persistent diarrhea then you should talk to your primary care doctor. He can ask you about warning signs that may signal a more concerning cause of diarrhea, such as weight loss, bloody diarrhea, or family history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn's Disease. If needed, he can perform blood/stool testing and refer you to a gastroenterologist if more invasive work-up is needed, which may ultimately include an upper or lower endoscopic procedure where the intestinal lining can be visualized and biopsied. Please see your doctor soon.
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