Which gastrointestinal symptoms do COVID-19 patients experience?  

COVID-19 enters the digestive system through an enzyme in the gut called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2. When it does, it affects the lining of the gut and causes it to start breaking down.

In some cases, it has been reported that patients did not experience any other symptoms of the virus, like a fever or dry cough, but reported acute gastrointestinal problems instead. 


These symptoms include:

  • A loss of appetite

  • Anorexia

  • Abdominal pain

  • Diarrhoea

It is reported that around 20% of COVID-19 patients may experience these symptoms.

COVID-19-related gastrointestinal complications

Following recovery from the virus, it is possible that the damage done to the walls of the digestive system can cause certain gastrointestinal disturbances.

In the long term, damaged linings may worsen symptoms for patients who suffer from IBS or more serious conditions like Crohn’s disease

There is also a probability that the virus may migrate to other organs in the gastrointestinal tract. Organs like the gallbladder and the pancreas may be susceptible to getting infected, leading to conditions like pancreatitis and cholecystitis.

Certain gastrointestinal problems caused by COVID-19 may also cause patients to develop eating disorders, which may persist even after the patient has recovered.

Do I need to see a gastrointestinal doctor?

If you experience concerning gastrointestinal symptoms even after recovering from COVID-19, you may need to consult a specialist to figure out a treatment plan.

If you are based in Sydney, Australia, Dr Suhirdan Vivekanandarajah is an experienced gastroenterologist and hepatologist who can provide you with the relevant diagnostic and treatment support.

*If you have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 but suspect you may be affected by the virus, consider getting a PCR test first.

Meet Dr Suhirdan Vivekanandarajah  

Interventional Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist

Bsc (Med) | M.B.B.S. (Hons) | FRACP

Get in touch for gastrointestinal diagnosis and treatment support