Clinical Characteristics of COVID-19 Patients With Gastrointestinal Symptoms: An Analysis of Seven Patients in China

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: Patients with novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can present with gastrointestinal symptoms as their initial symptoms or as the main manifestations during disease progression, but the clinical characteristics of these patients are still unknown. Methods: We identified COVID-19 patients who admitted to Xiangyang No. 1 People's Hospital and presented with gastrointestinal symptoms as their initial or main symptoms. Their medical records were reviewed by two independent clinical scientists. The epidemiological and clinical characteristics as well as the clinical outcomes were analyzed. Results: Among 142 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 7 (4.9%) of them presented with gastrointestinal symptoms. Three patients had gastrointestinal symptoms as the initial symptoms and chief complaints, and 4 patients as the main symptoms during disease progression. Six patients had symptoms of diarrhea (3–16 days), 7 with anorexia (7–22 days), 6 with upper abdominal discomfort (1–7 days), and 4 with nausea (1–7 days), 1 with heartburn lasting 2 days, and 2 with vomiting symptoms (1 day). The chest CT scan showed typical COVID-19 imaging features, and associated with the progression of the disease. During treatment, 2 patients died due to organ failure. Discussion: COVID-19 patients with gastrointestinal symptoms are relatively rare and might be misdiagnosed. The clinical features include watery stools, anorexia, and upper abdominal discomfort. These patients may have severe disease and be associated with a poor prognosis. The underlying mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 related gastrointestinal symptoms need to clarify in future studies.


  • Jin Wei Ai
  • Hao Zi
  • Yong Wang
  • Qiao Huang
  • Na Wang
  • Lu Yao Li
  • Bin Pei
  • Jianguang Ji
  • Xian Tao Zeng
External organisations
  • Xiangyang No.1 People's Hospital
  • Hubei University of Medicine
  • Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University
  • Henan University
  • Region Skåne
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Infectious Medicine
  • Gastroenterology and Hepatology


  • 2019-nCoV, COVID-19, diarrhea, digestive tract, gastrointestinal symptom, SARS-CoV-2
Original languageEnglish
Article number308
JournalFrontiers in Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jun 9
Publication categoryResearch