What Common Digestive Problems Were Faced by People After COVID-19?
With the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic taking the country by storm and the
number of patients escalating, respiratory symptoms have been the most common.
At the same time, the number of patients reporting digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) problems has increased tremendously.
Several cases have shown that a majority of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 have experienced at least one gastrointestinal (GI) symptom at some point of time during their illness.
Signs & symptoms and Signs to watch out for
Some of the most common GI symptoms associated with COVID-19 include lack of appetite, smell/taste, diarrhoea, nausea/vomiting or both, indigestion, belching, GI bleeding in which the patient vomits up blood, abdominal pain, and in quite a few cases, intestinal inflammation or colitis.
A lot of people who have recovered from COVID-19 also complain of constipation, bloating, acid reflux, irritable bowel diseases, and reduced intestinal movement.
How does COVID-19 cause digestive problems?
Most of the studies have shown that the SARS-CoV-2 virus enters intestinal cells or
enterocytes, and respiratory cells using the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2) protein as a receptor.
These ACE-2 receptors that lie implanted in cellular membranes help in regulating blood pressure by controlling levels of the protein angiotensin that enables blood vessels to constrict and increase blood pressure.
It is through the spike-like proteins that bind to ACE-2 through the virus enters intestinal cells, just like how it penetrates respiratory cells. After the virus enters the intestinal cells, it
produces copies of viral proteins and ribonucleic acid (RNA), i.e., the genetic materials of the SARS-CoV-2, by using the cells’ machinery.
The instance intestinal cells are infected by the virus which stimulates the release of cytokines (small proteins) involved in inflammation.
According to various research, it is this process that may cause gastrointestinal symptoms of COVID-19. Some of the other causes of GI symptoms are caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus infecting and damaging the gastrointestinal tissues.
The most common causes of nausea and diarrhea include the effects of antibiotics and antivirals and the impact of the virus on the vagus nerve.
According to some research, COVID-19 may also be responsible for alterations in the
microbiota which is the community of microbes that are usually found in the intestines or stomach.
Who is more vulnerable?
People who have had pre-existing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at a higher risk of contracting viral infections. People who are on medication daily for various reasons are vulnerable to getting infected since some of the medicines for inflammatory bowel
movements weaken the immune system.
People with viral infections in their respiratory as well as gastrointestinal have double the risk as compared to those with viral infections in only their respiratory tract. The reason for this is that patients are exposed to higher viral loads.
Another more vulnerable group of people who may have more severe GI infections are
those with various other symptoms associated with multiple organs/diseases. This not only raises the risk of infection but also makes it much longer to heal and recover from the disease.
The early waves of COVID-19 have been seen to affect adults much more severely than
children. Experts believe that this is so because of the lower activity of ACE2 receptors in children which lowers the risk for the SARS-CoV-2 virus to enter and infect.
However, children have not been exempted from GI problems and in a high number of
cases, digestive problems have been observed to be the sole symptom in many COVID-19-infected children.
How can you fight gastrointestinal problems caused by COVID-19?
COVID-19 symptoms may overwhelm most people since many of them resemble signs of
most common communicable diseases but the presence of such symptoms does not solely imply that you have COVID-19.
Having understood that, Yashoda Hospital & Research Centre urges you to take all necessary precautions to avoid SARS-CoV-2 by wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance and personal hygiene, and most importantly, getting vaccinated.
There is no better treatment for COVID-19 than taking all the necessary. However, people who have contracted COVID-19 need not worry because we are here to guide you through some of the most effective measures to avoid and prevent digestive problems:
1. Dietary Adaptation
Eat on time and avoid starvation or overeating. Replenish carb levels in your diet to balance bowel movements by adding foods such as white rice, boiled potatoes, oats, etc. Stay away from sugar, limit your intake of caffeine and refrain from smoking and alcohol. Switch to a bland diet by avoiding spicy, fried, and processed foods which can inflame the lining of the intestines.
2. Fluid Intake
Keeping yourself hydrated is extremely important since symptoms like diarrhoea and
vomiting often dehydrate the body. Drink enough water and increase the intake of
ORS, coconut water, and fresh fruit juices.
3. Controlled Activity
Home exercises such as regular walks and yoga are highly recommended. Also,
maintain a healthy sleep schedule.
4. Maintain Hygiene
To avoid further infection, it is always advisable for patients to avoid sharing washrooms to prevent the risk of spreading the illness to others. Sanitizing personal areas is a necessity to eliminate digestive and gastrointestinal problems caused by COVID-19.
Whom to consult?
With COVID-19, digestive and gastrointestinal problems are inevitable in most cases but with the right supervision, they can be taken care of most effectively.
Our experts at Yashoda Centre for Digestive & Liver Diseases are always ready to help you cope with your GI problems by designing the appropriate diet plan for you. They monitor and regulate your treatment regularly.
For any query on digestive problems caused by COVID-19, please feel free to reach out to us on our official website www.yashodahealthcare.com
Or book an appointment with our specialists, Dr Manish Kumar Gupta and Dr Sushrut Singh.