ZocdocAnswersWhat causes sneezing and diarrhea?

Question

What causes sneezing and diarrhea?

My girlfriend has been sneezing nonstop for a week, and is now getting diarrhea. I'm worried it's something serious. Could this be something worse than the flu?

Answer

It sounds like your girlfriend has felt pretty bad for too long. Anytime you or someone you care about develops an illness like this, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor. In the case, the best type of physician to see is a primary care physician such as a family doctor or internal medicine doctor. Your description of your girlfriend sneezing for a week sounds consistent with a viral upper respiratory tract infection (URI) also known as the common cold. URIs can hang around for a week or two and can really make you feel crappy. URIs do not typically cause diarrhea. It is possible that she also caught a gastrointestinal virus which is causing her to move her bowels a lot more frequently. This would especially be true if she was recently exposed to some sick kids. Although her symptoms sound like a viral illness, a bacterial infection that would need antibiotics is still possible. I suggest that your girlfriend schedule an appointment with her primary care physician. He or she can take a detailed history of her upper respiratory track infection symptoms, diarrhea, and perform a thorough physical exam. If her doctor thinks there may be a component of a bacterial infection, then your girlfriend may be given a prescription for an antibiotic. I hope she feels better.

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