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COVID-19 symptom: Don't ignore your gut feelings and watch out for digestive problems

Coronavirus also manifests itself through digestive problems.

Flu-like symptoms are not the only manifestations you need to be careful about amid the coronavirus outbreak. Your gastrointestinal tract may also signal COVID-19 infection.

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : April 2, 2020 4:51 PM IST

Coronavirus, the very word is enough to send us into a panic mode nowadays, thanks to the massive outbreak that has affected over 8 lakh people and taken the lives of above 40,000 people globally. According to the latest coronavirus update in India from the Ministry of Health and Welfare (as on 2nd April), there are currently 1764 active cases (the number excludes the deceased, cured and migrated) in the country now and the death toll is 50. While these facts and figures are alarming enough, panic makes the situation worse. The way to go, now, is taking preventive measures and spotting the symptoms early on for timely medical intervention. COVID-19 is a respiratory tract infection. So, the symptoms of this virus are mostly flu-like. But it turns out that the virus also manifests itself through digestive problems.


A recent research published in American Journal of Gastroenterology found that gastrointestinal issues like diarrhoea and appetite loss were prominent among nearly half the coronavirus patients. The study involved 204 patients from the Hubei province of China, where the COVID-19 virus had originated. The researchers of the study found that 48.5 per cent of these patients complained of nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and other diarrhoea-like symptoms. Among the study participants, 7 per cent didn't experience respiratory issues, the most common symptom of coronavirus. These findings suggest that we should get ourselves checked for the contagious COVID-19 bug even in the absence of flu-like manifestations. However, more research is required to confirm these findings. But one thing is for sure, this study will help doctors with better diagnosis for patients with no respiratory symptoms.

Earlier in February, a New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) study reported that a 35-year-old coronavirus patient from the USA complained of digestive issues like nausea and vomiting before he was hospitalised. After being admitted to the hospital, he experienced abdominal discomfort and loose bowel movement. Also, another NEJM study reported the case of 27-year-old Vietnamese guy from a family cluster of coronavirus. He experienced vomiting and loose bowel movement along with fever before hospitalisation. Experts speculate that coronavirus can actually shed in stool.

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You may not show symptoms immediately after your exposure to the coronavirus. The estimated time for manifestation ranges between two to fourteen days. The most common symptoms include sore throat, fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, nasal congestion, runny nose, body ache, etc. In severe cases, the condition may manifest through pneumonia.

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