ZocdocAnswersCan one detect influenza through their stool?

Question

Can one detect influenza through their stool?

I am worried I have influenza because I've been living in close quarters with a person that definitely has it, and now I've begun to see some worrisome signs, like a sore throat and fatigue. I've also noticed a kind of strange appearance in my bowel movements lately. Is it possible to diagnose whether someone has the flu by looking at their stool?

Answer

The flu can be a nasty illness that can cause fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, runny nose, and occasionally diarrhea. The virus infects the lung passages and cannot replicate in any other type of organ. Thus, the influenza virus cannot be found in the stool. While the flu can cause diarrhea, this would not be the primary symptom you would complain about. The flu is transmitted from person to person through lung secretions released during a cough or a sneeze. Transmission is usually fast and you would begin feeling the symptoms mentioned above within a few days of exposure. If it has been more than a few days, then you are probably in the clear. While sore throat and fatigue can definitely be a sign of the flu, other signs such as fever, and muscle aches are not likely to be absent. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can take your vital signs, get a detailed history, and perform a thorough physical exam. Perhaps you doctor will take a swab of your nasal passages to test for the influenza virus. In addition, you should get a flu shot to reduce the likelihood that you will get the flu in the future.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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