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Higher Risk of Long-Term Gastrointestinal Conditions in Covid-19 Survivors

Gastrointestinal conditions in Covid-19 survivors

According to a study, surviving a bout of Covid-19 can increase the risk of long-term gastrointestinal conditions. 

What is the Complete Story?

The study likely confirms that Covid-19 survivors are at higher risk of long-term gastrointestinal conditions, such as constipation, diarrhoea, chronic acid reflux, inflammation of the bile ducts and pancreatitis. 

Clinical epidemiologist Ziyad Al-Aly at the VA Saint Louis Health Care System led the study. Between March 2020 and January 2021, he and his colleagues examined the medical records of more than 154,000 people with Covid-19. 

After that, they compared the rates of Covid survivors suffering from gastrointestinal problems to the rates seen in two control groups. 

One group was more than 5.6 million people without any evidence of Covid-19 from March 2020 to January 2021. On the other hand, the second group was 5.8 million people tracked for a year after the pandemic. 

Ziyad and his colleagues concluded that there are increased relative and absolute risks of pre-identified gastrointestinal conditions and symptoms. Compared to the Covid-19 control groups, survivors are at higher risk of constipation, abdominal pain, vomiting, bloating, inflammation of the bile ducts and diarrhoea. 

Excess Burden

Wrong Direction

Instead of looking at the underlying health conditions that might be linked to higher risks, researchers noted that the more severe a patient’s Covid-19 case, the higher the risk of gastrointestinal conditions will be. 

Simply put, patients in an intensive care unit are at higher risk than those not even hospitalised. However, how the viral infection leads to gastrointestinal problems is still unclear by the researchers. 

Other forms of long Covid can wreak havoc on many parts and systems of the body. According to a study, it could also disrupt the gut microbiome, tissue injury, chronic inflammation and autoimmune mechanisms. 

But for now, it’s unclear who is at risk of long-term problems due to Covid-19. According to various studies, vaccination can reduce the risk of long Covid. But it appears it will not eliminate the risk of prior infection. 

However, these risks may change with time. The current study shows that it has become impossible for researchers to assess the effects of vaccination on Covid risks.

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