Medically reviewed by Onikepe Adegbola, MD, PhD
Although data show that individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 often experience gastrointestinal distress, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, researchers have wondered how prevalent such symptoms are after COVID-19 recovery.
This data analysis, “Prevalence and risk factors for gastrointestinal symptoms after recovery from COVID-19,” was published in the journal Neurogastroenterology & Motility in September 2021.
Researchers from the New York-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center analyzed data from hospitalized COVID-19 patients from March 1st, 2020, and June 30th, 2020, who were assessed for gastrointestinal symptoms 1–6 months after discharge from the hospital. Symptoms measured were diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. The patients did not have any gastrointestinal symptoms or disorders before the COVID-19 diagnosis.
Researchers assessed 147 patients hospitalized for COVID-19, of whom 23% reported diarrhea, 21% reported nausea and vomiting, and 6.1% reported experiencing abdominal pain. The follow-up period had a median of 106 days after hospital discharge, during which the researchers again analyzed gastrointestinal symptom data. Of the 147 previously hospitalized COVID-19 patients, 16% disclosed that they were experiencing at least one gastrointestinal symptom at follow-up.
Additionally, an online survey was anonymously distributed to individuals in a support group for COVID-19 recovery. Of 285 online poll participants, who also did not have any gastrointestinal symptoms or disorders before the diagnosis of COVID-19, 113 respondents self-disclosed new gastrointestinal symptoms after recovering from COVID-19.
As many studies on the effects of COVID-19 continue to emerge, more studies need to be completed on the gastrointestinal effects after COVID-19 recovery.
Gastrointestinal symptoms may persist even after individuals have recovered from Covid-19. Healthcare providers should be aware of this possibility when treating patients and provide appropriate care. Individuals who are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms should seek medical attention if their condition does not improve.
Blackett, J. W., Li, J., Jodorkovsky, D., & Freedberg, D. E. (2022). Prevalence and risk factors for gastrointestinal symptoms after recovery from COVID-19. Neurogastroenterology and motility: the official journal of the European Gastrointestinal Motility Society, 34(3), e14251. https://doi.org/10.1111/nmo.14251