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Digestive Health and Wellness

Symptoms of COVID-19 May Involve Your GI System

Ceciel Rooker

President, International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added several gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms to their “Symptoms of Coronavirus” webpage.

Symptoms included were nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. This addition was based on research studies around the world which have shown that between one-third and one-half of all patients positively diagnosed with COVID-19 reported having one or more of these GI symptoms. Unfortunately, many people affected by the coronavirus may not realize they are infected, as the GI symptoms often do not manifest themselves along with the more traditional symptoms of the virus such as cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing and fatigue.

What to do if you have symptoms

Anyone with sudden symptoms of nausea or vomiting and diarrhea accompanied with a fever should consider the possibility of a coronavirus infection and speak with their healthcare provider. Fecal tests are available and have been shown to be more reliable in detecting COVID-19 when GI symptoms are present.

Additionally, it is recommended that those with the virus consider separate bedrooms and bathrooms during the time of their infection to limit the possibility of spreading the virus to friends, coworkers, and family. There are extra precautions to be taken during this time:

  • Flush toilets with the lid down
  • Disinfect all high-touch bathroom surfaces areas often (toilet, sink handles, and doorknobs)
  • Use separate toilet paper rolls if you test positive for the coronavirus
  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth

It is also important to remember that the CDC also lists “new loss of taste or smell” as a symptom of the coronavirus. Over 65 percent of those with the virus reported this symptom, and some researchers include severe loss of appetite, which could be a direct result of the new loss of taste or smell. If you notice food lacking its usual taste or smell and are experiencing any symptoms of COVID (GI or otherwise), it would be best to see a healthcare provider.

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