What is the association between gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea) and COVID-19?

Bottom Line:

In patients who met testing criteria for COVID-19, those with gastrointestinal symptoms were more likely to test positive for COVID-19, and these symptoms may be associated with a slower and less severe disease course.


Nobel, Y.R. et al. Gastrointestinal Symptoms and COVID-19: Case-Control Study from the United States. Gastroenterology (2020). DOI: 10.1053/j.gastro.2020.04.017

Date Published:

8 April 2020


While fever, cough, and shortness of breath are the most common symptoms seen in COVID-19 patients, there has been an increasing number of cases reported of patients experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e. nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea). To find out more about the association between gastrointestinal symptoms and COVID-19, researchers in New York compared patients who tested positive for COVID-19 to those who tested negative by reviewing their medical records. They found that patients who met testing criteria for COVID-19 were 70% more likely to test positive if they had gastrointestinal symptoms. In addition, the presence of gastrointestinal symptoms was associated with a longer duration of illness, but a lower death rate. The findings of this research study suggest that symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may be important symptoms to recognize in suspected COVID-19 patients. This study design has limitations, including the fact that it relies on accurate recordkeeping of symptoms in medical charts. Future studies should include a larger population of patients and a longer observation period.

Summary by: Louis Huynh