Diarrhea Is Associated with Increased Severity of Disease in COVID-19: Systemic Review and Metaanalysis

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SN Comprehensive Clinical Medicine


COVID-19 has become a pandemic since its emergence in Wuhan, China. The disease process was initially defined by presence of respiratory symptoms; however, it is now well studied and shown in evidence that this is a multisystem process. Involvement of gastrointestinal (GI) system has been identified, and GI symptoms can be the only presenting symptoms in some patients. Hence, it is important to identify and understand the GI symptoms associated with COVID-19 for appropriate care of patient. We conducted a systematic review and metaanalysis to identify the GI symptoms of COVID-19 and identify association of diarrhea with severity of COVID-19. We performed extensive search of Medline and Embase from December 2019 to May 2020 to identify articles reporting GI symptoms in COVID-19 patients. The primary outcome was prevalence of GI symptoms in COVID-19 patients, and secondary outcome was the association of diarrhea with disease severity. A total of 38 studies with 8407 patients were included. Of the total patients, 15.47% patients had at least one GI symptom. The pooled prevalence of nausea/vomiting was 7.53% and diarrhea was 11.52%. On metaanalysis, patients with diarrhea as one of the presenting symptoms were more likely to have severe disease (OR 1.63, 95% CI: 1.11-3.38, p = 0.01). Our systematic review and metaanalysis demonstrated that GI symptoms are common in COVID-19. Presence of diarrhea as a presenting symptom is associated with increased disease severity and likely worse prognosis. Early recognition of patients is needed for prompt management of this at-risk population.



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