Diarrhea Could Be First Sign Of Coronavirus Infection, Study Says

Usually, media reports and releases point to pneumonia and flu-like symptoms as the first signs of being infected with the coronavirus. However, a new study reports that, for some people, the initial symptom of the virus might be digestive symptoms such as diarrhea. 

Digestive Symptoms As Coronavirus Sign

As a virus, COVID-19 primarily attacks the lungs and respiratory system of the person that it has infected. Because of this, its primary symptoms are pneumonia-like in nature, which includes the usual shortness of breath, fever and, of course, intense coughing. If the infection worsens, the symptoms usually turn to difficulty in breathing, chest pain and pneumonia itself. And because it attacks the respiratory system, it usually gets transferred via coughing, sneezing and close contact with other people, which is why everyone is advised to wear masks, thoroughly wash their hands with soap all the time and to practice social distancing as a way to prevent its spread.

That list of symptoms, however, expands, as a new study suggests.

Published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, the new study suggests that while respiratory symptoms are the ones most observed as the primary signs of the coronavirus, other people might experience digestive issues, such as diarrhea. The study reportedly looked at data from 204 patients with COVID-19 in China’s Hubei province, where they were able to discover that 48.5 percent of these patients arrived at the hospital with digestive symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting or abdominal pain. As such, the researchers stated that, for some people, digestive symptoms may present itself first before the respiratory symptoms of COVID-19. Furthermore, the people included in the study also had a more severe course of illness.

Per some experts, this new study adds a lot of weight to the mounting suspicion that the virus causes gastrointestinal problems in people.

"In this study, COVID-19 patients with digestive symptoms have a worse clinical outcome and higher risk of mortality compared to those without digestive symptoms, emphasizing the importance of including symptoms like diarrhea to suspect COVID-19 early in the disease course before respiratory symptoms develop," Brennan M.R. Spiegel, M.D., co-editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Gastroenterology, said.

Coronavirus The 2019-nCoV, a new type of coronavirus, was first discovered at a small animal and seafood market in the city of Wuhan in China. Pixabay