Gastrointestinal symptoms are common in patients with COVID-19

25 March 2020

Almost half of 204 people who presented to hospitals in China with COVID-19 had digestive symptoms, such as lack of appetite, diarrhoea and vomiting, according to a new study. Most but not all had respiratory symptoms as well.

The report in the American Journal of Gastroenterology examined data from patients presenting to 3 hospitals in Hubei Province with COVID-19. The authors found gastrointestinal symptoms are a common complaint in patients with COVID-19 – the most common being loss of appetite and diarrhoea.

The patients with digestive symptoms were found to have a longer time from onset of the symptoms to admission into hospital than patients without gastrointestinal symptoms.

They were also found to be more likely to have problems with coagulation, and their liver enzyme levels were higher.

The authors caution that digestive symptoms, such as diarrhoea may be the presenting feature of COVID-19, and may occur before respiratory symptoms.


Pan L, Mu M, Yang P, et al. Clinical characteristics of COVID-19 patients with digestive symptoms in Hubei, China: a descriptive, cross-sectional, multicenter study. Am J Gastroenterol Posted online March 18, 2020.


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