Gastroenterology and COVID-19: What You Should Know

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has affected the entire world. Because it’s a new virus, we know very little about it at the moment, and information about transmission and symptoms seems to change on a regular basis. 

That being said, our experienced gastroenterologists at GastroMed in Miami, Florida are staying on top of all the latest research and information about COVID-19 so they can take appropriate precautions and provide the best treatment for you. 

COVID-19: The virus that changed the world

Between the news and social media, you’re probably inundated with information about COVID-19. However, because SARS-SV-2 (the scientific designation of the virus) hasn’t been around very long, doctors and researchers are learning new details about it every day, which can lead to conflicting and confusing information.

Here’s what we do know: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), SARS-SV-2 doesn’t cause the same symptoms as other types of coronaviruses, like the one that causes the common cold. 

The virus spreads primarily through respiratory droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes, or talks. You’re more likely to inhale the infected droplets, which can hang in the air for some time, when you’re in close contact with an infected person, probably less than 6 feet. You can also become infected if you touch a surface that has virus particles on it and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.

After infection, you may develop symptoms within 2-14 days. However, you can still spread the virus even if you’re not experiencing symptoms.  

COVID-19 may cause digestive symptoms

Though COVID-19 is a respiratory infection, symptoms vary greatly and may affect your digestive system as well. A May 2020 study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology concluded that digestive symptoms were common in those infected with COVID-19.

Some of the most common digestive symptoms reported included diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. The May 2020 study found that those patients experiencing digestive symptoms also had increased liver enzyme levels.

In addition, the researchers determined that patients with digestive symptoms had higher rates of mortality. For the record, this was a small study and included a total of only 204 patients, so it’s a bit hard to extrapolate. Though the research offers valuable information about COVID-19, more studies are needed to better understand the connection between COVID-19 and your gastrointestinal system. 

However, if you have concerns that you may be infected with the virus, don’t discount your digestive symptoms. Contact your primary care provider or a COVID-19 testing center to schedule a test, and isolate yourself from others as best as possible. 

Gastroenterology and COVID-19

At GastroMed, we’re taking every precaution possible to keep our patients safe. We request you reschedule any routine appointment if you have symptoms of COVID-19, such as:

We also request you reschedule your appointment if you’ve come in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms. To minimize crowding in the waiting room, we also ask that you come alone to your appointment and wear a face mask. 

To help meet our patients gastroenterology needs, we offer comprehensive telemedicine appointments to keep you and our staff safe. 

Like you, we’re closely following all the latest information about COVID-19 to ensure you stay well. If you need gastroenterology care, contact us by phone at any of our locations or send us a message online today.

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