Dig Dis Sci. 2022 Feb 7. doi: 10.1007/s10620-022-07384-0. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: We aimed to understand the association of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms at initial presentation with clinical outcomes during COVID-19 hospitalization.
METHODS: This retrospective, multicenter cohort study included consecutive hospitalized COVID-19 patients from a single, large health system. The presence of GI symptoms was assessed at initial presentation and included one or more of the following: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Patients were divided into three cohorts: Only GI symptoms, GI and non-GI symptoms and only non-GI symptoms. The primary outcome was association of GI symptoms with mortality. Secondary outcomes included prevalence of GI symptoms and survival analysis.
RESULTS: A total of 1672 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized (mean age: 63 ± 15.8 years, females: 50.4%) in our system during the study period. 40.7% patients had at least one GI symptom (diarrhea in 28.3%, nausea/vomiting in 23%, and abdominal pain in 8.8% patients), and 2.6% patients had only GI symptoms at initial presentation. Patients presenting with GI symptoms (with or without non-GI symptoms) had a lower mortality rate compared to patients presenting with only non-GI symptoms (20% vs. 26%; p < 0.05). The time from hospitalization to being discharged was less for patients presenting with only GI symptoms (7.4 days vs. > 9 days, p < 0.0014). After adjusting for other factors, the presence of GI symptoms was not associated with mortality (p > 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Among a hospitalized COVID-19 positive Southern US population, 41% patients presented with either diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain initially. The presence of GI symptoms has no association with in-hospital all-cause mortality.