Ever since the coronavirus changed the functioning of the world, it has also changed the way we look at physical ailments. With the different variants of the virus that originated in 2019 having different effects on people, almost every organ in the human body is somehow susceptible to some amount of damage once you contract the virus. A stomach pain which, till a few years back, could be passed off as a temporary food poisoning case or so, is today a Covid-19 symptom. Hence, it becomes important to learn about how we can link abdominal pain to Covid-19.
Stomach ache and diarrhoea may be the first indicators of Covid-19 infection, according to a Forbes report published in March 2020, just around the time the Covid-19 disease was designated a global pandemic.
“The main finding of this study is that Covid-19 individuals who were diagnosed with gastrointestinal symptoms had a worse result and a higher chance of death than those who were not. This emphasises the importance of evaluating GI symptoms—nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea—as a possible Covid-19 presentation before developing respiratory symptoms” the Forbes report had detailed.
“Covid-related abdominal discomfort is a widespread ache in the centre of your stomach. You may experience soreness all over your stomach,” according to an April 2021 report in the ZOE Covid Study.
“Abdominal pains are more common in the first few days of illness and normally fade away fast (within one or two days),” according to the April 2021 study. Despite the fact that it is a very uncommon symptom, the study recommends that one be tested for Covid-19 if it appears to be clustered with other symptoms such as diarrhoea and shortness of breath.
SARS-CoV-2 impairs angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) activity and infects the intestinal epithelium by inducing cytotoxicity, after which it is shed into faeces, causing gastrointestinal symptoms and/or positive SARS-CoV-2 viral load or RNA in stool, according to a November 2020 research report, as reported by Times of India.
Coronavirus uses the ACE-2 protein as a receptor to enter intestinal and respiratory cells. “The release of cytokines, tiny proteins that play a role in inflammation, is triggered when SARS-CoV-2 particles leave an infected cell.” According to the report, “This process may produce gastrointestinal discomfort.”
Although Covid-19 is characterised by respiratory tract manifestations, gastrointestinal symptoms are not uncommon, according to the November 2020 study. In many cases, gastrointestinal symptoms, particularly diarrhoea, can be the initial presentation of Covid-19 in patients who may later (or never) develop respiratory tract manifestations.
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