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Gastrointestinal implications in COVID-19.

BMC Infectious Diseases 2021 November 5
BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19 patients mostly present with respiratory symptoms; however, gastrointestinal (GI) manifestations can also be seen either alone or along with respiratory symptoms. We aimed to evaluate the GI symptoms related to COVID-19.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study retrospectively evaluated the medical files of 507 patients with confirmed or highly probable COVID-19. Based on their symptoms, patients were categorized into four groups: with GI symptoms alone (GIA), with respiratory symptoms alone (RA), with both GI and respiratory symptoms (GIR), and without GI or respiratory symptoms (WGIR).

RESULTS: Of the 507 COVID-19 patients, 47.9% had at least one GI symptom; the most common was nausea and/or vomiting (31.6%). Patients in the GIA group were significantly older than those in the RA (P = 0.041) and GRI (P = 0.004) groups (54.70 ± 18.14 vs. 48.68 ± 14.67 and 46.80 ± 17.17 years, respectively). Groups were homogeneous with respect to gender. Leukopenia and lymphopenia were both less frequent in patients with GI symptoms compared to those without GI symptoms. Positive RT-PCR was significantly less frequent among patients with GI symptoms (44% vs. 100%, P < 0.001). Although mortality was lower in patients with GI symptoms (9.1%) in comparison with those without GI symptoms (13.3%), the difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.134).

CONCLUSION: The typical respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 are quite commonly accompanied by GI symptoms, with nausea and/or vomiting being the most prevalent. A subgroup of COVID-19 patients may exclusively present with GI symptoms. Special attention should be paid to these patients in order to avoid misdiagnosis or delayed treatment.

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