The following is a summary of “Post-infection functional gastrointestinal disorders following coronavirus disease-19: a prospective follow-up cohort study,” published in the June 2023 issue of Infectious Diseases by Zhang et al.
In the retrospective study, researchers aimed to examine the occurrence and risk factors in COVID-19 patients and healthy people groups for post-infection functional gastrointestinal disease (PI-FGID). Acute gastrointestinal infections can result in post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome (PI-IBS). Furthermore, coronavirus disease (COVID-19) can cause long-term gastrointestinal sequelae.
The study involved 190 COVID-19 patients and 160 healthy controls and used Rome III and Rome IV questionnaires to explore the incidence of PI-FGID. These groups were followed for 1, 3, and 6 months to see if the problems continued.
At one month, out of 190 COVID-19 patients, 3.2% had diarrhea, 0.5% had abdominal pain, 1.6% had constipation, 2.6% had dyspepsia, and 3.2% had a mix of these symptoms. Similarly, at three months, 2.1% had diarrhea, 0.5% had abdominal pain, 2.1% had constipation, 2.1% had dyspepsia, and 3.2% had a combination of these symptoms. However, in healthy control, 1.3% had constipation, 2.5% had dyspepsia, and 1.9% had both conditions combined (P = 0.193) at one month. Similarly, 1.3% had constipation at three months, 2.5% had dyspepsia, and 1.3% had both conditions combined (P = 0.286). At 6-month follow-up (P = 0.025), COVID-19 patients (8.9%) had higher FGIDs than healthy controls (3.1%). In addition to this, at six months, 7 (3.7%) had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), 5 (2.6%) had functional dyspepsia (FD), 3 (1.6%) had functional diarrhea (FDr), and 2 (1.1%) had functional constipation (FC) among COVID-19 patients. On the other hand, in healthy controls. Only 2 (1.3%) had IBS, and 3 (1.9%) had FD. Notably, gastrointestinal symptoms at the beginning were independent risk factors for post-COVID-19 FGIDs at six months.
The study concluded that COVID-19 elevated the occurrence of new-onset PI-FGID at six months compared to healthy controls. Gastrointestinal symptoms observed at the beginning of COVID-19 independently contributed as a risk factor for post-COVID-19 FGIDs.