COVID-19 and the Digestive Health System

Welcome to our new series called Coffee with Dr. Ravi.  This series will include weekly posts, every Friday, to inform you about latest trends on various digestive health problems.

This first video is about COVID-19 with specific emphasis on how COVID-19 affects the digestive health system and that for a the majority of people it is milder disease.

The first description came out of China on December 31st where the WHO was informed that there was a new/novel virus in patients with pneumonia in China. From that point on it has spread through the world causing the current pandemic. The disease is caused by an infection with a type of Coronavirus which has been named as SARS-CoV-2. Most symptoms include fever, shortness of breath and cough. Patient’s who experience digestive symptoms typically have a less severe case of the disease.  Some patients can experience diarrhea and in about 20% of the patients, diarrhea can be the first symptom. The diarrhea can last for about 2 weeks. In a subgroup of patients that were studied, they had about 4 to 6 bowel movements a day. Two-thirds of these patients had fever, however, about one-third of them had no fever. The people who have digestive symptoms presented later than the people who had respiratory symptoms for care. In other words, diarrhea can be a presentation of COVID-19.

The virus typically enters through the lung cells.  There is however a possibility that it could enter through the gastrointestinal tract because some of the same areas that the virus attaches to in the lungs are present in the digestive system. The Coronavirus is named because of its crown like spikes that protrude from the surface. It is surrounded by an oily bubble which soap molecules can destroy and therefore the emphasis on hand washing.

Join us next week where we will discuss what you can do to prevent infection, the preventative measures the Digestive Health Center is taking and evolving treatments.