Digestive symptoms of COVID-19: What gastroenterologists should know

A study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology found digestive symptoms were common in patients infected with the coronavirus.

According to the cross-sectional multicenter study by investigators from the Wuhan Medical Treatment Expert Group in China, many patients experienced digestive symptoms in addition to respiratory ones. Digestive symptoms manifested in 83.8 percent of cases as anorexia; 29.3 percent as diarrhea; 0.8 percent of cases as vomiting; and 0.4 percent of cases as abdominal pain. The study found patients with digestive symptoms had a worse clinical outcome and a longer time from onset of symptoms to admission to a healthcare facility.

"In this study, COVID-19 patients with digestive symptoms have a worse clinical outcome and higher risk of mortality compared to those without digestive symptoms, emphasizing the importance of including symptoms like diarrhea to suspect COVID-19 early in the disease course before respiratory symptoms develop," said Brennan Spiegel, MD, co-editor-in-chief of The American Journal of Gastroenterology. "This may lead to earlier diagnosis of COVID-19, which can lead to earlier treatment and more expeditious quarantine to minimize transmission from people who otherwise remain undiagnosed."

The study authors said that if clinicians solely look for respiratory symptoms, they may miss cases where patients present with other symptoms, resulting in a later diagnosis. The study found gastrointestinal symptoms become more pronounced as the disease progressed.

Read more here.

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