COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus discovered in late 2019. Most people who get COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms, but some people, especially those with preexisting health conditions, become severely ill.
Constipation isn’t typically a symptom of COVID-19, but it may be in some cases. Factors like medication, dietary changes, gut bacteria changes, and physical activity changes can all contribute to its development.
Keep reading to learn when constipation may be a symptom of COVID-19 and which digestive symptoms you’re more likely to experience.
Constipation isn’t a typical symptom of COVID-19, but COVID-19 may lead to constipation for some people either directly or indirectly.
A fecal microbiota transplantation is a procedure that involves the transfer of healthy bacteria into the intestines. All three people with constipation saw improvements in symptoms after the procedure.
Medications that lead to constipation
Some drugs used to treat COVID-19 may also lead to constipation.
Constipation from stress and anxiety
Increased stress and anxiety may increase constipation in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Symptoms that affect the digestive system are reported in up to
- Diarrhea. Diarrhea has been reported in
2 to 50 percentof COVID-19 cases and seems to be more common in people with severe disease.
- Vomiting. A
review of studiespublished in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeuticsfound that 3.6 to 15.9 percent of adults and 6.5 to 66.7 percent of children with COVID-19 experienced vomiting.
- Loss of appetite. A review of 60 studies found
26.8 percentof people with COVID-19 experienced a loss of appetite.
- Nausea. The study published in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics found
1 to 29.4 percentof people with COVID-19 experienced nausea.
- Abdominal pain. The same study found
2.2 to 6 percentof people experienced abdominal pain.
Although COVID-19 doesn’t typically cause constipation, other factors related to the infection may indirectly cause it. A lack of physical activity from stay-at-home orders and quarantines can lead to what has become known as “quarantine constipation.”
When you stop being active or reduce your activity, your bowels don’t push stools through as efficiently. Increased time spent sitting may also compress your colon and contribute to constipation.
Changes in your diet, increased stress levels, and changes in hydration may also all contribute to constipation if you’ve been staying at home more often.
Exercising at home, finding ways to relieve your stress, continuing to eat a healthy diet, and staying hydrated may all help relieve your symptoms.
According to a
- fever: 78 percent
- dry cough: 58 percent
- fatigue: 31 percent
- productive cough: 25 percent
- loss of sense of smell: 25 percent
- trouble breathing: 23 percent
Other symptoms seen in more than 10 percent of people were:
Most of the time, mild COVID-19 can be treated at home with plenty of rest and hydration. It’s important to isolate yourself from other people as soon as possible for 10 days to avoid passing the virus to others.
If you aren’t having a medical emergency, consider that many clinics and doctors office allow you to communicate with a doctor by phone or online.
Call 911 and let the dispatcher know your symptoms, or go to the nearest emergency room if you have the following symptoms, which the
CDC lists as an emergency:
- trouble breathing
- persistent pain or pressure in your chest
- new confusion
- an inability to wake up or stay awake
- pale, gray, or blue colored skin, lips, or nails
- anything else unusual or concerning
Constipation isn’t a typical symptom of COVID-19, but some people with COVID-19 do experience it. Drugs used to treat COVID-19, dietary changes, COVID-19-related stress, and changes in exercise habits can all also contribute to constipation.
If you think you have COVID-19, you should isolate yourself from other people for 10 days and only visit a doctor if you have emergency symptoms. If your symptoms are mild, you can treat COVID-19 at home by resting and staying hydrated.