COVID-19 is a new disease that has hatched from a family of viruses known as coronavirus. Respiratory infections were expected to be its direction of travel but COVID-19 refuses to be play into formula. The viral disease appears to bombard the body in ways quite unlike its viral predecessors.
COVID-19 can produce effects that either precede or are independent of respiratory symptoms and the most commonly reported involve the digestive system.
Vomiting and diarrhoea are the most commonly cited symptoms.
“These symptoms might only last one day. Some people with COVID-19 have diarrhoea and nausea prior to developing fever and respiratory symptoms,” according to Mayo Clinic.
One study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology examined 206 patients with a mild case of COVID-19.
They found 48 people had only digestive symptoms and another 69 had both digestive and respiratory symptoms.
Of the combined total of 117 people with gastric distress, 19.4 percent experienced diarrhoea as their first symptom.
Many people who develop COVID-19 also report losing their appetite, often alongside other gastrointestinal symptoms.
According to a study conducted in Beijing, about 39.9 to 50.2 percent of people experienced a loss of appetite.
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Despite the evidence, the NHS does not regard gastrointestinal symptoms as the main symptoms.
According to the health body, the main symptoms of coronavirus are:
- A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.
“Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms,” it says.
How should I respond to these symptoms?
Current UK health advice says get a test as soon as possible and stay at home until you get the result.
Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must also stay at home until you get your result.
A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from one other household.
There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19), but you can often ease the symptoms at home until you recover.
According to the NHS, if you have a high temperature, it can help to:
- Get lots of rest
- Drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to avoid dehydration – drink enough so your urine is light yellow and clear
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you feel uncomfortable.
“If you have a cough, it’s best to avoid lying on your back. Lie on your side or sit upright instead,” advises the health body.
There have been some news reports of anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen, making coronavirus worse.
The Commission on Human Medicines has now confirmed there is no clear evidence that using ibuprofen to treat symptoms such as a high temperature makes coronavirus worse.
“To help ease a cough, try having a teaspoon of honey. But do not give honey to babies under 12 months,” adds the NHS.
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