Coronavirus: Five digestive symptoms you may experience before a cough or high temperature

Coronavirus symptoms are slippery – the warning signs can easily be confused with a host of less serious conditions. As the virus has raged on, it has also become clear that a high temperature or new, continuous cough does not capture the range of potential symptoms. In fact, many people are alerted to the condition without experiencing these commonly cited symptoms.


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Many cases have involved digestive issues that have appeared before a cough or high temperature.   

These issues typically take the form of a loss appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain or discomfort, according to Harvard Health.

“These symptoms might start before other symptoms such as fever, body ache, and cough,” explains health body.

What does the evidence say?

The evidence hints at the prevalence of digestive-related symptoms. 

Recently, researchers at Stanford University found that a third of patients they studied with a mild case of COVID-19 had symptoms affecting the digestive system.

Another recent study published by researchers in Beijing found that anywhere from three to 79 percent of people with COVID-19 develop gastrointestinal symptoms.

Drilling down into the specific symptoms, 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.

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The research from Beijing found that vomiting is more common in children with COVID-19 than adults.

The researchers analysed all the COVID-19 clinical studies and case reports related to digestive issues published between December 2019 and February 2020.

They found that 3.6 to 15.9 percent of adults experienced vomiting, compared with 6.5 to 66.7 percent of children.

According to the same study from Beijing, about 39.9 to 50.2 percent of people experience a loss of appetite.


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What should I do if I recognise any of the above symptoms?

To protect others, you must stay at home if you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), according to UK health advice.

This social distancing measure, called self-isolation, is aimed at stemming the spread of the virus. 

Can I leave my home if I’m self-isolating?

According to the NHS, if you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus:

  • Do not leave your home for any reason – if you need food or medicine, order it online or by phone, or ask someone to deliver it to your home
  • Do not have visitors in your home – including friends and family
  • Do any exercise at home – you can use your garden, if you have one

How long to self-isolate

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, self-isolate for seven days, explains the health body.

After seven days:

  • If you do not have a high temperature, you can stop self-isolating
  • If you still have a high temperature, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal

You do not need to keep self-isolating if you just have a cough after seven days.

The NHS explains: “A cough can last for weeks after the infection has gone.”

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