COVID-19 hot spots preceded by searches for gastrointestinal symptoms, study says

Residents of eventual COVID-19 hotspots searched for information on gastrointestinal symptoms in the weeks preceding increases in disease incidence, according to a study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.


Researchers used Google Trends to investigate whether searches for common GI symptoms correlated with COVID-19 incidence data. Researchers analyzed data from 15 states that became hotspots over a 13-week period from Jan. 20 to April 20.

Researchers searched for symptoms including ageusia, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, anorexia, diarrhea and vomiting.

Google searches increased for ageusia, loss of appetite and diarrhea four weeks prior to a rise in COVID-19 for most of the 15 states.

The other GI symptoms did not correlate with increases in COVID-19 diagnoses.

Researchers concluded, "Our results show that Google searches for specific, common GI symptoms correlated with incidence of COVID-19 in the first weeks of the pandemic in 5 states with high disease burden."

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