Coronavirus: are stomach pains a symptom of Covid-19?
Studies suggest that digestive issues such as diarrhoea can be a symptom of Covid-19 but generally in tandem with fever, coughing and shortness of breath.
According to the World Health Organization, the most common symptoms of the novel coronavirus are a fever, a dry cough and a feeling of tiredness, with serious symptoms involving difficulty breathing, chest pain and a loss of speech or movement. Other possible symptoms of Covid-19 include aches and pains, sore throat, diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, headaches, loss of taste or smell and skin rashes and discolouration of the fingers and toes. But is stomach pain a possible indicator of coronavirus?
A report by Live Science in March suggested diarrhoea could in fact be the first symptom of coronavirus in some cases. A study carried out by The American Journal of Gastroenterology found that stomach issues "should at least prompt consideration of the illness." The same publication published an earlier study centred on a test group of 200 Covid-19 patients in Wuhan in mid-March, 50 percent of whom reported some form of digestive symptom, with 18 percent suffering from diarrhoea.
Online medical resource webmd.com also cited the China study and concurred that stomach issues could be an indicator of Covid-19 but added that diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting do not necessarily mean that a patient has coronavirus. These symptoms can be provoked by seasonal flu or food poisining, among other things.
Stomach issues not a primary symptom of Covid-19
A Stanford Medicine study carried out in mid-April also concluded that loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea can be symptomatic of Covid-19, but that these are generally secondary symptoms that present themselves in tandem with the most common indicators: fever, cough and shortness of breath.
“COVID-19 is probably not just respiratory symptoms like a cough,” Alexander Podboy wrote in the reoprt, published on 10 April in Gastroenterology. “A third of the patients we studied had gastrointestinal symptoms. It’s possible we may be missing a significant portion of patients sick with the coronavirus due to our current testing strategies focusing on respiratory symptoms alone.”
The WHO recommends seeking medical attention if a patient is reporting serious symptoms and self-isolation for those people whose symptoms are in the mild range if they are otherwise healthy.
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