A new coronavirus symptom has been discovered and has been recommended to be added to the current symptom list.
According to a new study that was published in the journal Radiology, researchers examined 412 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 and found some unusual abnormalities. Most COVID-19 patients have their lungs and heart targeted by the disease, but what if another part of the body is also being hit by the virus and healthcare workers didn't know about it? Many of the COVID-19 positive patients were reporting abdominal issues, so the researchers investigated.
After examining the patients the researchers were able to determine that 17% of them had bowel abnormalities, and that these abnormalities were more common in the patients who had a more severe case of COVID-19. It's believed that the virus is targeting the ACE2 receptors, which are most common in the lungs, hence most COVID-19 patients experiencing lung issues. But there are also ACE2 receptors in the bowel, which would explain why some patients are experiencing these bowel abnormalities.
Dr. Rajesh Bhayana of Massachusetts General Hospital said, "We found bowel abnormalities on imaging in patients with COVID-19, more commonly in sicker patients who went to the ICU. Some findings were typical of bowel ischemia, or dying bowel, and in those who had surgery we saw small vessel clots beside areas of dead bowel. Patients in the ICU can have bowel ischemia for other reasons, but we know COVID-19 can lead to clotting and small vessel injury, so bowel might also be affected by this."
At the moment the research isn't yet conclusive, but the researchers do recommend that additional investigation be undertaken for COVID-19 patients to find out if they are experiencing any bowel issues.
The researchers also explain, "ACE2 expression is most abundant in lung alveolar epithelial cells, enterocytes of the small intestine, and vascular endothelium suggesting that small bowel and vasculature may be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection."
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