THURSDAY, March 19, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Patients with coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) frequently have digestive symptoms, and those with digestive symptoms have a worse clinical outcome, according to a study published online March 17 in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Lei Pan, M.D., Ph.D., from Binzhou Medical University Hospital in China, and colleagues enrolled confirmed patients with COVID-19 who presented to three hospitals from Jan. 18 to Feb. 28, 2020, to examine the prevalence and outcomes for patients with digestive symptoms. Data were included for 204 patients with COVID-19 and full laboratory, imaging, and historical data.

The researchers found that 48.5 percent of patients presented to the hospital with digestive symptoms as their main complaint. The time from onset to admission was significantly longer for patients with digestive symptoms versus those without digestive symptoms (9.0 versus 7.3 days). A variety of manifestations were reported by patients with digestive symptoms, including anorexia, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain (83.8, 29.3, 0.8, and 0.4 percent of cases, respectively). In seven cases, there were no respiratory symptoms, but there were digestive symptoms. Digestive symptoms became more pronounced as the severity of the disease increased. The likelihood of being cured and discharged was higher for patients without versus with digestive symptoms (60 versus 34.3 percent). No significant liver injury was observed.

“This knowledge may help with earlier identification of COVID-19, faster time to treatment, earlier quarantine, and lower exposure to bystanders,” the authors write.

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