Is Diarrhea an Initial Symptom of COVID-19?

Reviewed on 11/30/2021

Diarrhea can be an early symptom of COVID-19, including other gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea or vomiting. Other common COVID symptoms include changes in taste and/or smell, headache, feeling unwell (malaise), fatigue, body aches, loss of appetite, sore throat, runny nose, and congestion.
Diarrhea can be an early symptom of COVID-19, including other gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea or vomiting. Other common COVID symptoms include changes in taste and/or smell, headache, feeling unwell (malaise), fatigue, body aches, loss of appetite, sore throat, runny nose, and congestion.

COVID-19 is a novel (new) coronavirus, not previously identified in humans, that is responsible for an outbreak of respiratory illness that became a global pandemic in 2020. COVID-19 is different from other coronaviruses that cause mild illness, such as the common cold.

Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting may be initial symptoms of COVID infection, and can occur before fever and lower respiratory tract symptoms are present.

Other common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Changes in taste and/or smell
  • Headache
  • Feeling unwell (malaise)
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion

Signs of COVID that require immediate medical attention (call 911 or go to a hospital’s emergency department): 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse

What Tests Can Diagnose COVID?

Tests used to diagnose the virus include: 

  • PCR tests (genetic or molecular test) 
    • Results can take hours to up to one week
    • More accurate than an antigen test
  • Antigen test
    • Results are available in less than one hour
    • Less accurate than a PCR test
       

What Are Antibody Tests?

An antibody test may be used to determine if a person had a past COVID-19 infection, but it is not used to diagnose current infections because it takes up to 3 weeks following infection for the body to produce antibodies to the virus. 

What COVID Treatments Are Available?

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19, and supportive care is aimed at relieving symptoms in mild cases. 

COVID Home Remedies, Medicines & Treatments

In mild cases, staying home and self-isolating for 14 days is recommended to avoid spreading the virus. Treatments for mild COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Pain relievers 
  • Cough suppressants
  • Rest
  • Adequate fluid intake

Monoclonal Antibodies

  • Casirivimab/imdevimab (Regen-COV), a monoclonal antibody combination, has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adult and pediatric patients 12 years and older who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization.
  • Monoclonal antibodies are not indicated for use in severe cases.

Hospitalization for COVID

More severe COVID-19 cases may require hospitalization and treatments may include:

  • Antiviral therapy with remdesivir 
  • Corticosteroids 
  • Immunotherapy 
  • Antithrombotic therapy - anticoagulants and antiplatelet therapy 
  • High-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen 
  • Ventilation 

Hydroxychloroquine

Hydroxychloroquine has been touted as a possible treatment, but studies have shown it to be ineffective with a high risk of fatal heart arrhythmias, and it is not recommended.

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Reviewed on 11/30/2021
References
Image Source: iStock Images

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-guidance-management-patients.html#:~:text=Many%20people%20with%20COVID%2D,tract%20signs%20and%20symptoms.

https://www.covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov/

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-authorizes-pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine-emergency-use-children-5-through-11-years-age

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p1021-covid-booster.html https://www.osfhealthcare.org/blog/sinus-infection-or-covid-19/