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Rates of Irritable Bowel Syndrome Increased After COVID-19 Hospitalization

Rate of patients fulfilling criteria for depression was also higher for COVID-19 patients versus controls

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, April 7, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Hospitalized patients with COVID-19 report higher rates of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) than those without COVID-19, according to a study published in the March issue of Gut.

Giovanni Marasco, Ph.D., from the Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Bologna IRCCS in Italy, and colleagues examined the prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms and post-COVID-19 disorders of gut-brain interaction after hospitalization for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection in a prospective study. Patients with and without COVID-19 diagnoses were assessed at hospital admission and after one, six, and 12 months posthospitalization. A total of 883 hospitalized patients were included in the primary analysis (614 with COVID-19 and 269 controls).

The researchers found that gastrointestinal symptoms were more frequent among patients with COVID-19 than controls at enrollment (59.3 versus 39.7 percent). Constipation and hard stools were significantly more prevalent in controls than patients with COVID-19 at the 12-month follow-up (16 versus 9.6 percent and 17.7 versus 10.9 percent, respectively). Patients with COVID-19 reported higher rates of IBS according to Rome IV criteria compared with controls (0.5 versus 3.2 percent). A history of allergies, chronic intake of proton pump inhibitors, and presence of dyspnea were significantly associated with IBS diagnosis. The rate of patients fulfilling the criteria for depression was higher for those with COVID-19 than controls at the six-month follow-up.

“Traces of the coronavirus were indeed found in the small intestine even six months after infection: this leads us to believe that the prolonged state of inflammation and activation of the immune system may lead to the development of the gastrointestinal symptoms that were observed,” Marasco said in a statement.

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