Long COVID is typically associated with shortness of breath and fatigue. However, did you know it can also impact your digestive system?
An increasing number of people are displaying gastrointestinal symptoms as a result of having the condition. Here, we analyse recent research into Long COVID and its effect on the digestive system.
What does the latest research say?
In April 2022, a study was carried out to determine the link between long covid and gastrointestinal symptoms. It involved 1,114 participants who took a two-part internet survey. All participants had tested positive for COVID-19.
It was discovered that gastrointestinal symptoms were a risk factor for severe COVID cases. Out of the 164 participants who completed the second phase of the study, 66% of them had at least one gastrointestinal symptom.
Additional research in March this year, discovered 16% of 147 patients who had never had a gastrointestinal problem, reported a new digestive symptom. These symptoms typically started within 100 days of developing a COVID infection.
The most prevalent symptoms reported include:
Certainly, the fact that multiple studies have shown an increase in gastrointestinal problems in Long COVID patients points to a strong link. So, what is causing it?
Why does Long COVID affect the digestive system?
The exact reason why so many Long COVID patients are developing issues of the digestive system isn’t fully known. However, there are some theories.
When the SARS-COV2 virus invades cells, it uses receptors within the body. The gut lining is home to many of these receptors. The issues could also be caused by the inflammation caused by the virus. This can upset the bacteria that live within the gut, stimulating the nerves of the gastrointestinal system.
Treating issues of the digestive system
If you are experiencing gastrointestinal issues caused by COVID, making sure you drink plenty of fluids and eating a healthy diet can help. Avoiding processed foods and following a Mediterranean diet, that is rich in fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts, is recommended to manage the symptoms.
Whether Long COVID is the cause of your issues or not, seeking treatment for gastrointestinal problems early is important. When left untreated, they can go on to worsen and trigger other health problems.
If you are experiencing any digestive issues, book a consultation with Mr Woodward. After assessing the symptoms, he will recommend a treatment plan to help you get them under control.