Health

Coronavirus UK: Four gastrointestinal symptoms warning of a possible COVID-19 infection

The outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia initially developed in one of the largest cities, Wuhan, Hubei province of China, in early December 2019 and has since became a global pandemic. In the UK, a total of 416,000 people has since been infected with cases globally amounting to a shocking 32.1 million. Scientists have discovered the four gastrointestinal symptoms warning of a possible COVID-19 infection.

Mounting evidence from former studies indicate that the gastrointestinal tract of COVID-19 was verified by the viral detection in biopsy specimens and stool even in discharged patients, which may partially provide explanations for the gastrointestinal symptoms, potential recurrence, and transmission of the disease.

Features like diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort varies significantly among different study populations.

Researchers noted these four gastrointestinal symptoms could indicate a COVID-19 infection.

In a study published in Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology, faecal and oral transmission of COVID-19 was further analysed.

The study noted: "There had been earlier reports, particularly in adults, of gastrointestinal symptoms and of the possibility of a faecal–oral route of transmission.

"In a cohort of 1,099 patients with COVID-19 from 552 hospitals in China, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 5.0 percent of patients presented with nausea or vomiting, and 3.8 percent presented with diarrhoea.

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"Also, preliminary findings published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that of 204 patients with COVID-19 (mean age 54.9 years) who presented to three hospitals in China, 99 (48.5 percent) patients presented with digestive symptoms as their chief complaint.

"60 percent of patients without digestive symptoms were cured and discharged, compared with 34.3 percent of patients with digestive symptoms."

"This is another reason to emphasize good personal hygiene," warns Mary Estes at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas.

"Physicians and caretakers of potentially-infected patients need to be aware that stools might be infectious," adds Estes.


Some researchers believe COVID-19 causes abdominal pain due to inflammation of the nerves of the gut.

This is a similar way to how gastroenteritis (gastro) causes abdominal pain.

Another possible explanation for the discomfort in the abdomen is that COVID-19 can lead to a sudden loss of blood supply to abdominal organs, such as the kidneys, resulting in tissue death (infarction).

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has added diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting to its list of recognised COVID-19 symptoms.

However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) still only lists diarrhoea as a gastrointestinal COVID-19 symptom.

In the UK, the national health body stresses the importance of personal hygiene and to regularly wash your hands to further reduce the possible faecal to oral transmission of the deadly virus.



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