Thammasat Medical Research Indicates Correlation between Gastrointestinal Symptoms and Severe COVID-19 Cases

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JGH Open (an open-access journal of gastroenterology and hepatology), Asia Pacific’s leading medical journal, has published a research article from a team of Thai doctors led by Prof. Dr. Ratha‐korn Vilaichone, Gastroenterologist from the Faculty of Medicine and Chulabhorn International College of Medicine, Thammasat University. The study found that severe COVID-19 often associated with gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea.

The research shows that most patients tend to have “poor appetite” and “diarrhea” after infected by COVID-19 indicating a correlation between gastrointestinal symptoms and severe COVID-19 cases.

Research in the article “Gastrointestinal manifestation as clinical predictor of severe COVID-19: A retrospective experience and literature review of COVID-19 in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)”  is done by studying Thai patients diagnosed with COVID‐19 at Thammasat University field Hospital, between 1 January 2020 – 30 April 2020 and reviewing the Patients’ data in the ASEAN nations, aiming to predict severe COVID-19 cases.

In the study, over 40 COVID-19 patients’ data, clinical presentation, exposure risk, past medical history, laboratory results, and treatment outcomes were extensively reviewed. The average age of the patients was 30.5 years, and 55% were female. 30% (12 patients) has Gastrointestinal symptoms present, with poor appetite as the most common symptoms (over 17.5%) following by diarrhea (15%).

According to the study, 9.1% of the patients have Gastrointestinal symptoms prior to the COVID-19, while 63.6% have the symptoms concurrent with, and 27.3% has after COVID-19 symptoms. Diarrhea was significantly associated with severe COVID‐19. Other studies in the same area found that, across the world, there are 30% of COVID-19 patients have Gastrointestinal symptoms, which is significantly higher than the studies done in China. Similarly, studies in Singapore show that COVID-19 is highly associated with the Gastrointestinal symptoms (37%), with diarrhea being the most common symptoms at 17-24%.

In summary, gastrointestinal symptoms can be commonly found in COVID‐19 patients and can occur anytime during the disease course. Patients who have diarrhea are likely to develop severe COVID-19 symptoms. This research and the results published in the article is going to be beneficial to the plan an effective treatment of COVID-19 in the future.