COVID-19 has undoubtedly afflicted millions of people around the world in the past year and a half. It is fundamentally an infectious ailment of the upper respiratory tract instigated by the SARS-CoV-2 strain of coronavirus, which has presented itself in the form of various mutant viral specimens in the U.K., India, Brazil and several other countries. However, besides the typical symptoms experienced in the nasopharyngeal tract and lungs, such as dry cough, fever, breathing difficulty and sore throat, quite a few people with COVID-19 also report discomfort in their stomach and intestines.
Doctors who have been treating corona positive patients have since established that the effects of COVID-19 are not restricted only to the respiratory organs of the nose, throat, lungs and chest, but also manifest as skin rashes, headaches and can even hamper the functioning of the brain and gut. This has further been confirmed when scientists, medical researchers found traces of the SARS-CoV-2 strain of coronavirus not only in the nasal swab, throat swab and blood but also in stool samples of people with COVID-19.
Although not all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 encounter noticeable gut problems, even minor signs such as subtle stomach aches and lack of appetite could be a sign of infection. It is thus vital to understand how COVID-19 hinders digestion and keep a lookout for these indications of coronavirus.
5 Digestive Complaints That Denote Coronavirus Infection:
Diarrhoea is the passage of stools that are very fluid and watery in texture, in comparison to the bulky stool in a healthy individual. Loose stools are not uncommon during viral infections and occur when a person has the flu, or even some other bacterial or parasitic infection. However, if the frequency of passing thin, watery faecal matter is at least 3 times or more in a day, and it happens alongside dry cough, cold, fever, then it could imply COVID-19 and it is advised to get tested promptly and if the results are positive, undergo proper medical treatment.
A stomach ache is a gastric issue that arises most often in people of all age groups, from kids to young adults and the elderly. While this usually subsides with slight modifications in the diet and intake of ample water, liquids, abdominal pain that persists for more than two days must be checked by a doctor at once. Since SARS-CoV-2 viral vectors attach to the ACE-2 receptors in cells and these proteins are found not only in the respiratory tissues but also in gastrointestinal tissues, continuous pain in the tummy could signal COVID-19.
Loss Of Appetite
COVID-19 weakens the body with coronavirus invading the healthy cells and tissues. Moreover, it also presents a loss of sense of smell and taste in many people. Incessant fatigue coupled with anosmia, ageusia invariably results in a lowered appetite in COVID-19 affected individuals, since most foods with a strong aroma and pleasant taste appear bland to the palate. Also, when suffering from cough, fever, loss of smell and diarrhoea due to coronavirus infection, it prompts loss of appetite and the individual consumes less food than usual.
Nausea And Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting take place more in children with COVID-19 than adults. Nevertheless, these symptoms are sometimes seen in older people as well. The reason this occurs is that food, once ingested, travels from the mouth via the oesophagus i.e. the food pipe down to the stomach and intestines, wherein it is broken down, absorbed gradually. Since coronavirus infection obstructs the normal functioning of the cells and tissues in the stomach and intestines, digested food does not settle in the gut and is emitted out while vomiting.
The tissues lining the oesophagus are rather fragile and hence when stomach acids flow in the reverse direction into the tubular structures, it irritates the oesophagus and triggers acid reflux. The walls of the stomach are built strongly and shield the cells from acid secretions – which digest food particles. But when this mechanism fails to take place smoothly, such as in instances of COVID-19 infection, then acid reflux can occur, which damages the food pipe and causes heartburn. Though acid reflux could arise owing to an unhealthy diet, when it happens along with cough and fever, it is recommended to get tested for COVID-19.