Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in coronavirus-19 disease (COVID-19) have been reported with great variability and without standardization. In hospitalized patients, we aimed to evaluate the prevalence of GI symptoms, factors associated with their occurrence, and variation at 1 month.
The GI-COVID-19 is a prospective, multicenter, controlled study. Patients with and without COVID-19 diagnosis were recruited at hospital admission and asked for GI symptoms at admission and after 1 month, using the validated Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale questionnaire.
The study included 2036 hospitalized patients. A total of 871 patients (575 COVID+ and 296 COVID−) were included for the primary analysis. GI symptoms occurred more frequently in patients with COVID-19 (59.7%; 343/575 patients) than in the control group (43.2%; 128/296 patients) (P < 0.001). Patients with COVID-19 complained of higher presence or intensity of nausea, diarrhea, loose stools, and urgency as compared with controls. At a 1-month follow-up, a reduction in the presence or intensity of GI symptoms was found in COVID-19 patients with GI symptoms at hospital admission. Nausea remained increased over controls. Factors significantly associated with nausea persistence in COVID-19 were female sex, high body mass index, the presence of dyspnea, and increased C-reactive protein levels.
The prevalence of GI symptoms in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 is higher than previously reported. Systemic and respiratory symptoms are often associated with GI complaints. Nausea may persist after the resolution of COVID-19 infection.