Some COVID-19 patients only show digestive symptoms, study finds

A subgroup of COVID-19 patients may show symptoms of digestive issues, such as diarrhea, a new study shows.

Researchers in China examined 206 patients with mild cases of COVID-19. Forty-eight of the patients only showed a digestive symptom; 69 showed both digestive and respiratory symptoms; and 89 showed only respiratory symptoms. They followed patients until the patients tested negative for COVID-19 at least twice, more than 24 hours apart.

Among the patients with digestive symptoms, 67 had diarrhea lasting one to 14 days. About 62 percent of patients with a digestive symptom had a fever at the same time.

Researchers also found that COVID-19 patients with digestive symptoms sought care later than those with only respiratory symptoms. They also were more likely to test positive for COVID-19 in their stool.

The study was accepted for publication by the American Journal of Gastroenterology. It was made available before appearing in the journal, however, to offer early visibility to the study's results. It will undergo further review and copy editing.


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