Coronavirus has left a scar on the world that would normally be unthinkable outside of wartime. There are almost 330,000 officially reported deaths since the virus first broke out and with no vaccine currently available, the virus is likely to rage on. What humanity does have in its armoury is a growing body of evidence to recognise the threat and take suitable steps to defang it?
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Symptoms are one constantly evolving area of knowledge and it has become clear that COVID-19 causes a diverse set of symptoms in different people.
There was much fanfare recently when the NHS officially added loss of taste and smell to its list of symptoms.
However, some people have also reported gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, one of the common being diarrhoea.
In fact, these symptoms may start before other symptoms such as fever, body ache, and cough, according to Harvard Health.
How common is diarrhoea in COVID-19 patients?
In a retrospective study in the Nord Franche-Comté hospital conducted between March 1 and March 17 2020, and compared to the review of Li et al., diarrhoea was a main symptom in patients with COVID-19.
Out of the 114 patients, 55 (48 percent) had diarrhoea; it was the fifth most common symptom.
Diarrhoea appeared 4.5 days after the onset of the first other symptoms in COVID-19.
Senior health officials appear to be pushing for diarrhoea and other GI symptoms to be formally acknowledged.
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During the tri-weekly press briefing in Geneva, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead Dr Maria Van Kerkhove said: “The most common symptoms of people with Covid-19 are fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, feeling generally unwell – some aches and pains.
“But we do have some non-specific symptoms that people have reported including headache.
“Some of them have gastrointestinal symptoms – between three to five percent of patients have reported some kind of either nausea or vomiting or diarrhoea. So it seems to be rare.”
What should I do if I spot diarrhoea and other mild symptoms?
According to the NHS, you must stay inside and avoid contact with those not immediately living in your household.
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This social distancing policy, called self-isolation, is aimed at stemming the spread of the virus.
As the health site explains, you should self-isolate for a period of seven days from the moment you recognise symptoms.
During this time, there are steps you can take to alleviate your symptoms.
As the NHS explains, if you have a high temperature, it can help to:
- Get lots of rest
- Drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to avoid dehydration – drink enough so your urine is light yellow and clear
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you feel uncomfortable
There have been some news reports of anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen, making coronavirus worse, notes the health body.
The Commission on Human Medicines has now confirmed there is no clear evidence that using ibuprofen to treat symptoms such as a high temperature makes coronavirus worse.
In light of this finding, you can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat symptoms of coronavirus.
“Try paracetamol first if you can, as it has fewer side effects than ibuprofen and is the safer choice for most people,” advises the NHS.
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