Do you know Coronavirus can cause gastrointestinal symptoms?

Do you know Coronavirus can cause gastrointestinal symptoms?

Last Reviewed : 12/15/2020
Do you know Coronavirus can cause gastrointestinal symptoms?

During SARS epidemic caused by one of the Coronavirus strains in 2002-03, 16-73% of the patients had diarrhea during the course of the disease, usually within the first of illness. During another outbreak in 2012 caused by MERS- Coronavirus, a quarter of patients reported gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or abdominal pain. According to published research studies, gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain are also seen in around 4-10% of the COVID-19 affected people as well. In some cases, gastrointestinal symptoms are seen before fever or respiratory symptoms develop.

One study published in J Med Virology found that compared to throat swab specimens, detection of COVID-19 in fecalspecimens was equally accurate. And interestingly, it also found that patients with a positive stool test did not experience gastrointestinal symptoms and had nothing to do with the severity of the lung infection.

It is important to recognize the fact that gastrointestinal symptoms are part of COVID-19 illness. It is also important for healthcare providers to evaluate patients for COVID-19 who present with gastrointestinal symptoms without any fever or respiratory symptoms during the pandemic. Laboratory and other clinical parameters should be used to diagnose COVID-19 in patients presenting only with gastrointestinal symptoms. Stool testing may be helpful in these cases.




  1. Fecal specimen diagnosis 2019 novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia. Zhang J et al. J Med Virol. 2020 Mar 3. doi: 10.1002/jmv.25742.
  2. Enteric involvement of coronaviruses: is faecal-oral transmission of SARS-CoV-2 possible? Yeo C et al. Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 Apr;5(4):335-337. doi: 10.1016/S2468-1253(20)30048-0
  3. Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 99 cases of 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a descriptive study. Chen N et al. Lancet. 2020; 395: 507-513
  4. Clinical characteristics of 138 hospitalized patients with 2019 novel coronavirus–infected pneumonia in Wuhan, China. Wang D et al. JAMA. 2020; DOI:10.1001/jama.2020.1585
  5. Don't overlook digestive symptoms in patients with 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Luo S et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 Mar 20. pii: S1542-3565(20)30401-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2020.03.043

Please leave your comments:

Related Articles