COVID and the GI TRACT – FAST FACTS
COVID and the GI TRACT – FAST FACTS
Everyone has learned how COVID-19 can impact the respiratory system. Here are some fast facts that we have learned so far about the relationship between COVID and the GI tract summarized on The Hill website.
“Researchers behind the study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology this week analyzed data from 204 COVID-19 patients who were admitted to three hospitals in the Hubei province between Jan. 18 and Feb 28; the province of Hubei is where the outbreak started in late December.”
- SARS-CoV-2 indirectly or directly damages the digestive system through an inflammatory response. The chain reaction of inflammatory factors and the virus itself may injure the digestive system.
- The study found 48.5 percent of participants experienced symptoms such as reduced appetite, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
- Patients with digestive symptoms experienced a longer time from symptom onset to hospital admission than those without digestive symptoms, nine days versus 7.3 days. The study suggests patients with digestive symptoms waited longer to seek medical attention because they did not suspect they had COVID-19 due to the absence of respiratory symptoms, such as coughing or shortness of breath.
- Patients who did not experience digestive symptoms were more likely to be cured and discharged than those with digestive issues, 60 percent versus 34 percent, according to the study.
- Studies reveal that the viral nucleic acid is detected in stool samples in up to 53.4% of patients. Other studies have shown that the infection can be transmitted fecal-oral route. it means that contaminated feces from an infected person are somehow ingested by another person. For obvious reasons, this almost never happens deliberately. Usually, the situation occurs when an infected person might forget to properly wash his hands after using the toilet. Anything he or she touches afterward might be contaminated with microscopic germs that other people may encounter. More good reasons to WASH YOUR HANDS!
Although our office is not the optimal place to test for COVID-19 if these type of concerning symptoms arise, we are able to help you in the right direction with our TELEMEDICINE SERVICES.
Comprehensive Gastrointestinal Health has temporarily converted all office visits for the dietitian, behavioral coach/counselor, nurse practitioner, and myself (the gastroenterologist) to telemedicine. Our phone lines are open as normal for scheduling but most staff are working from home on HIPAA-secure electronic medical record system and telemedicine visits.
If you want to take your downtime away from work to start building healthy habits or to address either acute or longstanding GI, nutritional, or mind-gut connection issues, we are here to help in a safe way! If you are an existing patient and want to coordinate your routine follow up visits to remain productive, please call!
For more information on the practice visit compgihealth.com or call 224.407.4400. And please stay healthy and stay home!!
Note: Insurance companies’ policies on reimbursement have not kept pace with technology and this crisis – yet. Last week Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield shared that telemedicine services will have expanded coverage – others insurers have begun following suit. Exact details of service coverage are not yet crystallized, but we pledge to try to minimize any expenses to our patients and will address on a case by case basis as this crisis unfolds. Changes are happening daily and information will be shared as it comes available to us. This comes from the American Gastroenterological Association:
“Some commercial payors are also expanding access to telehealth services waiving telehealth visit copayments. Aetna and some Blue Cross Blue Shield plans have waived telehealth visit copays. While United has not yet decided to waive telehealth visit copays, they announced on a recent call with specialty societies that they plan to follow Medicare waivers and other rules on telehealth during this emergency. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is temporarily covering telehealth services at the same rate as an in-person office visit and United plans to do as well. Check with your local payors and plans to find out what changes they are implementing.”