COVID-19 and IBD, Part II
COVID-19 and IBD, Part II
by Liz Moon, NP
Just because there’s a pandemic doesn’t mean we stop learning. I recently attended the national Advances In Inflammatory Bowel Disease Conference, VIRTUALLY! Content and discussions around COVID-19 and new vaccines were hot topics. Just to review, COVID-19 symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting that appear 2-14 days after exposure. The virus is spread mainly through respiratory droplets. Over this past year they have found a substantial proportion of patient with COVID-19 have GI symptoms, however only about 3% have GI symptoms alone without any respiratory symptoms.
- How do IBD medications affect COVID-19 outcomes?
- There are medications such as thiopurines (azathiopurine or 6-Mercaptopurine) that have been associated with more severe COVID-19 infections. There is no evidence that patients on biologic therapies such as TNF antagonist (i.e. Humira) have increased severity of the infection.
- It is important to continue taking your medication and talk to you doctor before discontinuing any treatment!
- Are IBD patients more susceptible to COVID-19?
- There is no evidence to suggest patients with IBD are more susceptible to the infection. A study published in the IBD Journal this past June demonstrated that entry molecules (how the virus interacts with the host) are not increased in IBD patients.
- Are IBD patients more prone to worse outcomes?
- Not necessarily. In an analysis of 525 IBD patients, variables such as increased age, more than one comorbidity (i.e. hypertension), and systemic corticosteroid (prednisone) were associated with worse outcomes. It is important to note that age and comorbidities are risk factors for the general public.
- Again, it is imperative you talk with your doctor if you are on a systemic steroid before discontinuing it on your own.
- Should IBD patients be vaccinated to prevent COVID-19?
- Unfortunately, we don’t have enough data yet that says all IBD patients should have the vaccine. Presumably only live vaccines would be contraindicated for some of our patients. These vaccines that have been developed are NOT a live form of the virus.
- What we do know is that both vaccines that have been developed thus far are between 94-95% effective at preventing the virus which is very reassuring.
It is our promise to continue communicating with patient about what they need to know with this ever-evolving pandemic. If you have questions do not hesitate to reach out! Contact us at 224-407-4400 or through our website at www.compgihealth.com.