Coronavirus detection is currently in the remit of hospital staff who are treating patients with health complications. But a new study reveals digestive issues are present in half of all coronavirus victims.
On Wednesday March 18, research published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found digestive problems were prevalent in many patients with COVID-19.
The researchers analysed data from 204 COVID-19 patients, who had an average age of 55.
Patients were admitted to three hospitals in the Hubei province between January 18 to February 28 2020.
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The findings revealed that patients with digestive symptoms had a longer time from symptom onset to hospital admission – averaging nine days, compared to around seven days for those without digestive issues.
One possible reason for this difference, as suggested by the researchers, is that patients with digestive symptoms sought later care because they didn’t suspect they had COVID-19 due to a lack of respiratory symptoms.
Results reveal that nearly 84 percent of coronavirus patients with digestive problems suffered from a loss of appetite.
Diarrhoea was the second most common symptom, with 29 percent of coronavirus patients with digestive issues having this symptom.
Other digestive symptoms experienced by the patients included vomiting and abdominal pain.
Interestingly, seven of the patients in the study, who had tested positive for the virus, had digestive symptoms but no respiratory symptoms.
And patients with digestive symptoms were less likely to be cured and discharged from hospital compared to patients without digestive symptoms.
Specifically, 60 percent of patients without digestive issues were discharged, whereas only 34 percent of patients with digestive issues followed the same fate.
Dr Brennan, journal co-editor-in-chief, said: “In this study, COVID-19 patients with digestive symptoms have a worse clinical outcome and higher risk of [death] compared to those without digestive symptoms.
“This emphasises the importance of including symptoms like diarrhoea to suspect COVID-19 early in the disease course before respiratory symptoms develop.”
He continued: “This may lead to earlier diagnosis of COVID-19, which can lead to earlier treatment and more expeditious quarantine to minimise transmission from people who otherwise remain undiagnosed.”
Symptoms of coronavirus include fever, a new continuous cough, runny nose, sore throat and shortness of breath.
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The NHS has further explained what is meant by a fever and a new, continuous cough.
Fever “means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back”. It’s not required to measure your temperature.
A “new, continuous cough means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in a day”.
The NHS adds: “If you usually have a cough, it may be worse than normal.”
The official advice if you’re suffering from a fever or new, continuous cough is to stay at home for seven days.
After seven days, if you still have a high temperature, the NHS instruct you to stay at home until your temperature returns to normal.
If you still have a cough after seven days, you are not required to stay at home.
The NHS confirm: “A cough can last for several weeks after the infection is gone.”
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