The most common cause of diarrhea is a viral infection, such as norovirus or the flu.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that there are other more serious causes of diarrhea that can be diagnosed by a doctor.
The most common causes of diarrhea in adults are:
- Clostridium difficile infection (CDI)
It is important to note that, in most cases, these types of diarrhea are not caused by a cold.
Diarrhea from a cold can also cause:
What are the symptoms of a cold and diarrhea?
Symptoms of a cold and diarrhea include:
- A runny, watery, or sometimes dry nose
- Sudden, severe, or persistent cough
- Sore throat
- Sore muscles
- Bloated belly
- Stomach pain
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Weight loss
If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
How is a cold caused?
The exact cause of a cold is unknown, but it is thought that it is caused by a viral infection.
There are many viruses that cause colds.
Viruses are tiny organisms and are one of the most common causes of infection.
Viruses are known as the “germs” of a cold.
A cold is often caused by:
- A virus
- The common cold virus
- The rhinovirus
- The coronavirus
- The adenovirus
- The enterovirus
A cold virus can be passed from person to person.
Cold viruses are sometimes referred to as “common colds.”
The common cold virus is most commonly known as rhinovirus and is found in people around the world.
The rhinovirus is a small virus that can cause a runny nose, sneezing, and a sore throat.
If you have a cold, you may also develop a cough.
These symptoms may last for up to two weeks.
A cold virus is more common in children and adults than in babies.
Infection from a cold virus can cause a runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, and a cough.
What is the difference between a cold and a sinus infection?
A cold is a short-term infection.
A cold doesn’t usually cause a sinus infection.
A cold and a sinus infection can cause:
- A runny or stuffy nose
- A sore throat
These symptoms can last for up to two weeks.
What causes diarrhea from a cold?
The most common cause of diarrhea from a cold is a virus.
The CDC note that the common cold virus is the most common cause of diarrhea in adults.
In some cases, the virus can cause an inflammation of the colon called an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Symptoms of an IBD include:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or a combination
- Painful bowel movements
- Blood in the stool
- An increase in abdominal cramps
- A rash on the skin
In some cases, an IBD may be connected to other conditions.
If you have a cold and diarrhea, you may be able to treat the symptoms at home.
For example, you may be able to:
- Drink more fluids
- Eat foods that help with digestion, such as whole grains, legumes, and dairy products
- Try a warm compress to soothe the irritated skin
The CDC note that the only way to fully treat a cold is with prescription medications.
Treatment may include:
- Antibiotics: These are given to reduce the symptoms of a cold virus in some cases, but they don’t cure the virus.
- Decongestants: These medications are given to treat nasal congestion.
- Decongestants: These medications are given to treat sinus congestion.
The best way to treat a cold is to stay hydrated and to stay away from cigarette smoke.
You should also avoid contact with people who are sick.
What are the complications of a cold?
A cold usually doesn’t cause any complications.
However, if you are an older adult, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of using cold medications.
There is a risk that your cold may cause a bacterial infection of the intestines if you use cold medications.
What is the difference between a sinus infection and a cold?
Sinus infections are more common in children and adults and are often caused by viruses.
A sinus infection starts with a sinus infection, which is a runny nose, sore throat, and a cough.
Sinus infections can also cause:
- Nasal congestion
- Ear drainage
- Facial pressure
- A headache
- A cough
Common symptoms of a sinus infection include:
- A runny nose
- Mouth pain
If you have a sinus infection, you may also experience:
- Facial pain
- Runny or stuffy ears
- Nose bleeds
- A fever
- Swollen lymph glands
A sinus infection can also cause:
- Stuffy or runny eyes
- Stuffy or runny nose
In some cases, sinusitis can be caused by bacteria, a fungus, or a virus.
Symptoms of a sinus infection can include:
- Colds and other respiratory infections
- Pressure in the sinuses
- A change in sense of smell
- A change in sense of taste
When to see your doctor?
Even with the best treatment, you should still see your doctor if you have a cold or a sinus infection.
The CDC recommend that you see your doctor if you have:
- Complications, such as a severe infection
- Symptoms that don’t go away
- A change in your medical condition
- A persistent fever
- A change or loss of your sense of smell
These are some other things to keep in mind when you have a cold or sinus infection:
- Talk with your doctor about the best way to treat your cold or sinus infection.
- Try to avoid cigarette smoking.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Stay hydrated.
- Get plenty of rest.
- If you take prescription medications, make sure you take them as prescribed.
How is a cold or sinus infection treated?
You can treat a cold or sinus infection at home.
You may be able to treat the symptoms of a cold with the following at-home treatments:
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Eat foods that help with digestion, such as whole grains, legumes, and dairy products.
- Try a warm compress to soothe the irritated skin.
If your cold is especially severe, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat it.
Antibiotics can help treat a bacterial infection.
You may also be prescribed a nasal decongestant.
Decongestants work by reducing nasal swelling.
If a cold is causing a sinus infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.
What is the difference between a sinus infection and the flu?
The flu is a viral infection that causes symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, and a sore throat.
A sinus infection is a type of cold that causes these symptoms.
The flu is more common in children and adults.
There are many causes of the flu.
A bacterial infection is a common cause of the flu.
The flu can also cause:
- Nasal obstruction
- An ear infection
- A muscle ache
- A rash
- A sinus infection
There are many ways to treat the flu.
If you are an older adult, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of using flu medications.
What is the difference between a sore throat and a cold?
A sore throat is a common cold symptom. However, a sore throat may also be a symptom of:
- A sore throat from strep throat
- A tonsillitis infection
- A sinusitis infection
The symptoms of a sore throat can include:
- Pain in your throat
- A sour or bitter taste in your mouth
- A scratchy throat
- A swollen throat
- Post-nasal drip
Talk to your doctor if you think you have a sore or scratch throat.
You can treat a sore or scratch throat at home with the following home treatments:
- Gargle with salt water or use a sore-throat throat lozenge.
- Place a warm compress on your neck.
You should see a doctor if the pain doesn’t go away or if it gets worse.
What is the difference between a sinus headache and a cold?
Sinus headaches can be caused by a sinusitis infection. Sinus headaches cause a dull pain in your face, temples, or neck.
The bottom line
A cold can last for a few days or up to two weeks.
It’s usually caused by a virus.
Most colds will clear up on their own.
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