Beijing: Amid the rapid spread of coronavirus cases around the globe, researchers have found that diarrhea was a prominent symptom among up to half of patients with COVID-19 during the outbreak in Wuhan, China.
The study, published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, conducted by the researchers from the Wuhan Medical Treatment Expert Group for COVID-19.
According to the researchers, nearly half of COVID-19 patients enrolled in the study conducted in the Hubei province of China presented digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea and anorexia, and cited it as their chief complaint.
“Doctors should recognise that digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea, may be a presenting feature of COVID-19, and that the index of suspicion may need to be raised earlier in at-risk patients presenting with digestive symptoms rather than waiting for respiratory symptoms to emerge,” the researchers said.
Patients involved in the study presented to three hospitals from January 18 to February 28. All patients were confirmed by real-time RT-PCR and were analyzed for clinical characteristics, laboratory data, and treatment. Data were followed up until March 5.
Overall, data from 204 patients were analysed for the current study, according to the researchers.
The average age was 54.9 years old. In total, 48.5 per cent presented to the hospital with digestive symptoms as their chief complaint.
The study also revealed that patients with digestive symptoms had a longer gap between the onset of symptoms and hospital admission than patients presenting only respiratory symptoms and were less likely to be cured and discharged than those without digestive symptoms.
Patients who experienced digestive symptoms had a variety of manifestations, including anorexia (83.8 per cent), diarrhea (29.3 per cent), vomiting (0.08 per cent), and abdominal pain (0.4 per cent), the study said.
According to the researchers, as the severity of the disease increased, digestive symptoms became more pronounced.