Understand Long-haul Covid-19 Symptoms and the GI System
When linking symptoms and evidence to “long-haul Covid” cases, research has indicated that digestive symptoms can be a hallmark of COVID-19 infection in as many as 50% of patients.
What is the Gastrointestinal System?
Included in the GI system:
esophagus, the tube that connects to the stomach
small and large intestines
I thought Covid-19 was a respiratory disease - how is it affecting the GI health?
During this pandemic, GI complaints, such as nausea and diarrhea, have often been the first symptoms, even before the more common signs of Covid-19, like fever or respiratory symptoms. In come cases, respiratory issues were completely absent and only gastrointestinal or digestive problems were observed.
According to a review analyzing 125 articles and a total of 25,252 patients, the most common GI symptoms associated with COVID-19 long-haul symptoms include (in order of prevalence):
Lack of appetite
Lack of smell or taste
Vomiting up blood
Most studies show the SARS-CoV-2 virus enters intestinal cells using protein receptors.
When SARS-CoV-2 particles leave an infected cell, it triggers the release of proteins called cytokines, which affect the inflammatory response in the body. Once in the GI tract, the virus can also travel through the veins that drains blood from the digestive tract. As the virus impacts the vagus nerve in the abdomen, nausea is a common response.
Are these symptoms long-lasting - how will I recover?
As a specialty practice for GI and colorectal conditions, we’ve had first-hand experience with patients who now have lingering symptoms from their Covid-19 infection, including troublesome GI manifestations, such as chronic diarrhea and nausea, for up to 2 months after recovering from the initial illness. As it seems, the disease may destroy bowel tissues and reduce intestinal movement, leading to long-term pain, nausea, and diarrhea.
These long-haul effects are also making pre-existing GI conditions worse and leading to more chronic problems. Research found people with GI conditions seem to be at an increased risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms and disease. For patients already experiencing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Barrett’s esophagus, Crohn’s disease, chronic ulcerative colitis (CUC) and other GI problems, the gut microbiota (the community of microbes that normally inhabit the intestines or stomach), is being disturbed by the virus and is exacerbating the disease by destroying or damaging GI tissues. Covid-19 may additionally be showing evidence of triggering new-onset post-viral IBS or other GI disorders.
SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Despite Covid-19 being examined primarily as a lung infection, there are significant extra-pulmonary complications, including the gastrointestinal tract and most other organ systems. Common Covid-19 symptoms, like nausea and vomiting, are affecting both adults and children, and in some cases these may be the initial symptoms for SARS-CoV-2 infection. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic requires long-term vigilance and strategies for fighting the virus. Interventions and precautions are the key measures to control the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are experiencing nausea and vomiting, don’t overlook the possibility of Covid-19. Get tested and diagnosed early - you will benefit in the long run!
Best advice is to get vaccinated and protect yourself and those around you. There have even been anecdotal reports that long-haul symptoms are disappearing after some patients are getting vaccinated post-Covid infection. While research will continue, take this as a sign of hope. It doesn't matter which vaccine you receive, all current vaccines have shown to protect against severe disease and hospitalization.
FIBER is #1 in helping your gastrointestinal system maintain it's immunity:
✅ FIBER HELPS INDICATE YOU ARE FULL. The faster digestion of fiber through the intestines alerts your body more quickly.
✅ FIBER REDUCES SPIKES IN GLUCOSE. Levels of glucose rise slower when sugars are consumed through fiber.
✅ FIBER MAKES YOU REGULAR. Your diet affects your bowel movements. High-fiber diet = less constipation
✅ FIBER SCRUBS YOUR COLON CLEAN. Reduce your risk of COLON CANCER with fiber’s natural ability to remove intestinal bacteria and build-up.
A healthy DIGESTIVE SYSTEM is your key to better overall health & wellbeing.
To learn more, contact us today!
COLOWELL AMERICA Plant Medicine Clinics
Tampa’s Experts In Colorectal and Gastrointestinal Care and Medical Marijuana Recommendations.