Digestive problems are common in coronavirus patients, and they could show up before more respiratory symptoms typically associated with the virus, a new study says.
Researchers found digestive symptoms, including diarrhea, to be the primary complaint by nearly half the people in the hospital for COVID-19, according to the study published this week in The American Journal of Gastroenterology.
Respiratory symptoms remain the most common, but health experts highlighted the importance of looking out for digestive problems. Patients with digestive symptoms had a higher risk of death, the study found.
It’s important to look for digestive problems to detect potential cases of coronavirus sooner, said Brennan M.R. Spiegel, co-editor in chief of the journal, according to a news release from the American College of Gastroenterology in Maryland.
“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,” Spiegel said.
The Wuhan Medical Treatment Expert Group for COVID-19 analyzed over 200 patients hospitalized in China for the coronavirus. The group found patients with digestive symptoms went to the hospital later than people with respiratory symptoms, suggesting “they did not yet suspect COVID-19 in the absence of respiratory symptoms, like cough or shortness of breath,” according to the news release.
“Clinicians must bear in mind that digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea, may be a presenting feature of COVID-19, and that the index of suspicion may need to be raised earlier in these cases rather than waiting for respiratory symptoms to emerge,” authors of the study wrote.
According to the World Health Organization, the most common symptoms of coronavirus are fever, tiredness, and dry cough while some may experience aches and pains, congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.
Here’s a story about people infected with COVID-19 and what the illness felt like for them.
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