Almost half of coronavirus patients have digestive symptoms, study finds

A study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology reveals that digestive symptoms such as diarrhea were the primary complaint of nearly one-half of coronavirus patients in the early stages of the outbreak in China.

A study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology reveals that digestive symptoms such as diarrhea were the primary complaint of nearly one-half of coronavirus patients in the early stages of the outbreak in China. The findings are based on data from 204 COVID-19 patients, average age nearly 55 years, who were admitted to three hospitals in Hubei province between January 18 and February 28, 2020. The average time from symptom onset to hospitalization was 8.1 days. Researchers noted that patients with digestive symptoms had a longer time from symptom onset to hospital admission compared with patients without digestive symptoms—9 days vs. 7.3 days. Patients with digestive symptoms cited such problems as loss of appetite (nearly 84%), diarrhea (29%), vomiting (0.8%), and abdominal pain (0.4%). Patients without digestive symptoms were more likely to be cured and discharged than those with digestive symptoms (60% vs. 34%). Brennan Spiegel, journal co-editor-in-chief, pointed to "the importance of including symptoms like diarrhea to suspect COVID-19 early in the disease course before respiratory symptoms develop. 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."