Ann Palliat Med. 2021 Dec;10(12):12374-12380. doi: 10.21037/apm-21-3373.
BACKGROUND: To examine the incidence of diarrhea in severe and critical coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients, and to observe the efficacy and prognosis of probiotic use in such patients.
METHODS: A retrospective study was conducted to investigate the symptoms and incidence of diarrhea in 156 cases of COVID-19 confirmed by the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University and the Xinyang Fifth People's Hospital, China. A total of 58 cases of severe and critical COVID-19 were identified and divided into the treatment group or the control group. The control group was given standard treatment according to the Protocols for Diagnosis and Treatment of COVID-19: Prevention, Control, Diagnosis and Management. Patients in the treatment group were administered oral probiotics as well as the standard treatment. The 2 groups were compared in terms of nutritional status (serum albumin), improvement of diarrhea symptoms, changes in inflammatory condition [procalcitonin (PCT) and C-reactive protein (CRP)], the time taken to register a negative result for respiratory tract pathogens on the nucleic acid test, and changes to white blood cell and lymphocyte cell counts.
RESULTS: In this study cohort, diarrhea was detected in 15.38% (24/156) of COVID-19 patients. The incidence of diarrhea in patients with mild and moderate COVID-19 was approximately 8.16% (8/98), and the incidence of diarrhea in severe and critically ill patients was approximately 27.59% (16/58). In patients with severe and critical COVID-19, probiotic treatment obviously shortened the duration of diarrhea. Furthermore, compared with the control group, patients treated with probiotics showed a significantly reduced time to achieving a negative nucleic acid test and the inflammation indexes including PCT and CRP were significantly reduced (P<0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: The incidence of diarrhea in severe and critically ill COVID-19 patients was significantly higher than that in patients with mild and moderate COVID-19. Probiotics may have a good supporting role in the treatment of patients with COVID-19 and its early application is recommended.