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Investigating Gastrointestinal Involvement in Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome


Investigators found significant associations between GI-PACS and multi-system concomitant symptoms.

Patients with gastrointestinal post-acute COVID-19 syndrome (GI-PACS) are significantly more likely to develop concomitant symptoms involving multiple body systems, according to recent research.1

Investigators conducted a territory-wide survey to study the risk factors and characteristics of GI-PACS in a population based setting. A logistic regression was used to assess the association between GI-PACS and possible risk factors, as well as the odds of other symptoms concomitant with GI-PACS,

The survey included 8156 patients in Hong Kong who recovered from a COVID-19 infection between July to November 2022. The study cohort had a mean age of 43.3 and was 67.3% female. Information on date of infection, hospitalization history, vaccination status and persistent symptoms after the infection were collected.

Investigators found that 90.6% of participants reported post-acute COVID-19 syndrome of different systems after acute infection and 69.4% of subjects still experienced persistent symptoms 5 months after infection. In particular, 40.8% reported GI-PACS, of which 1 in 2 experienced symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, acid reflux, bloating, or loss of appetite.

In patients who were infected with Omicron variants of COVID-19, the odds of GI-PACS were significantly lower than with earlier variants of the virus. Those with GI-PACS were significantly more likely to develop concomitant symptoms involving multiple body systems, including respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological, cognitive, psychiatric, ophthalmological, musculoskeletal and dermatological.

Additionally, patients with GI-PACS were more likely to experience an impact in their daily functioning, which included work, study or interpersonal relationships.

“This population-based study reported possible risk factors for GI-PACS and it was the first to reveal significant associations between GI-PACS and multi-system concomitant symptoms,” the authors wrote. “These findings suggest the importance of gastrointestinal involvement in the pathogenesis of multi-system PACS, which warrants further research.”

1. Lau RI, Lau SFI, Ching JY, et al. Gastrointestinal Involvement in Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome: Results From A Population-Based Study of 8156 Subjects. Presented at: Digestive Disease Week; May 6-9, 2023; Chicago, IL. Poster 1060.
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