Digestive issues a symptom in nearly half of COVID-19 cases

Right now, don’t dismiss abdominal pain or diarrhea for IBS. A new study found that 48.5 percent of patients with novel coronavirus had digestive symptoms.

A new study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology finds nearly half of coronavirus (COVID-19) patients experience digestive issues. Researchers reviewed the data from 200 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 at hospitals in China’s Hubei province. Approximately half of these patients, or 48.5 percent, complained of diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

These patients didn’t seek treatment right away because they weren’t experiencing the typical COVID-19 symptoms. Respiratory symptoms, such as coughing or shortness of breath, are the most common issues associated with the virus. Unfortunately by the time these patients sought medical attention their symptoms had worsened. According to the study, the mortality rates for the patients who waited was higher.

What the study showed is the importance of staying vigilant. 

“Clinicians must bear in mind that digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea, may be a presenting feature of COVID-19,” researchers said in the study. “And that the index of suspicion may need to be raised earlier in these cases rather than waiting for respiratory symptoms to emerge.”

If you suspect that your abdominal pain or diarrhea is not typical of your IBS, if you are also experiencing unusual aches and pains, a headache, or tiredness, don’t dismiss them. Call your healthcare professional for a consultation. Start using a different bathroom if there’s more than one at home. If this isn’t possible, try and disinfect the bathroom after each use to avoid getting other family members infected. It may be tedious, but this simple act protects the whole family.