Coronavirus symptoms: First signs of the illness may appear when you go to the toilet

Coronavirus has infected 41,903 Britons. Symptoms of the disease include a fever and a new, continuous cough. But what’s the first sign of the illness that may appear in the bog bowl?

According to a new study, published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, one Covid-19 symptom may turn up in the loo.

Researchers from a top medical school in China, Tongji Medical College, analysed data from 206 patients at Union Hospital.

Union Hospital was designated as a hospital to treat Covid-19 patients.


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The 206 patients included in the study had a mild illness from Covid-19, and didn’t have difficulty breathing or suffer from low oxygen levels.

Results revealed that among all patients with digestive symptoms (117 patients), about 67 (58 percent) had diarrhoea.

Additionally, 20 percent of those patients experienced diarrhoea as the first symptom of their illness.

Patients experienced diarrhoea from one to 14 days, with an average duration of five days.

A third of those with digestive symptoms never experienced a fever.

These results put a spanner in the works, because it suggests those without classic symptoms of Covid-19 – cough, shortness of breath or fever – may go undiagnosed.

The authors wrote: “Failure to recognise these patients early, and often, may lead to unwitting spread of the disease.”

Their study also found that patients with digestive symptoms tended to seek care later than those with respiratory symptoms.

Specifically, patients displaying digestive issues, such as diarrhoea, took an average of 16 days from the onset of symptoms to seek healthcare.

Those with respiratory symptoms sought care, on average, 11 days after symptoms had begun.

Those with digestive issues were much more likely to have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in their stools than those who had respiratory symptoms only.

A whopping 73 percent tested positive for the virus in their stools, after showing digestive issues, whereas only 14 percent tested positive when only displaying respiratory symptoms.


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These findings suggest, but do not confirm, that the virus infects the gastrointestinal tract.

Out of the 206 patients included in the study, 48 patients were admitted with digestive symptoms only, 89 with respiratory symptoms only and 69 with both respiratory and digestive symptoms.

The researchers said: “The data emphasises that patients with new-onset diarrhoea after a possible COVID-19 contact should be suspected for the illness.

“Even in the absence of cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or even fever.”

The researchers continued: “Optimally, testing for COVID-19 should be performed using both respiratory and stool samples, if available.”

The study isn’t without its limits, though. The authors did note that their study was relatively small.

Because of this, larger studies are needed to further investigate digestive symptoms in patients with mild Covid-19.

Interestingly, there is building evidence that diarrhoea is a symptom of Covid-19 – with this study being the latest one of them.

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