COVID-19 and diarrhea: a literature review

Klaudijus Baranauskas1, Justina Palubinskienė1, Ugnė Kulnickaitė1

1Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Medical Academy, Faculty of Medicine


Background: COVID-19 is an acute respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In a short time, this highly contagious virus has caused a pandemic, destabilizing health systems, economies, and governments around the world. Although scientists are trying to find out more about this virus, many unanswered questions remain. Increasingly, there are information and discussions emerging about other potential damages to an organism’s systems caused by this pathology, some of which occasionally include diarrhea.

Aim: to evaluate the connection between COVID-19 and diarrhea, diagnostic, prevention and treatment options.

Methods: the review of the literature was conducted using the ”PubMed” database. The literature research was conducted using predetermined keywords. More than 50 publications were analyzed on the subject of COVID-19.

Results: Having conducted the literature review we determined that the SARS-CoV-2 virus occasionally affects the gastrointestinal tract and causing diarrhea episodes. Therefore, during a pandemic, it is important to consider diarrhea as a possible initial or only symptom of COVID-19 disease. Early diagnosis of this virus would help control the spread of the disease by adopting appropriate prevention and treatment measures. Discussion: During the current pandemic the main focus is on respiratory symptoms, but patients with diarrhea should also raise suspicion of possible SARS-CoV-2 infection. Although diarrhea occurs in patients with COVID-19, it is important to determine the prognostic value of diarrhea and effective treatments for this symptom in further studies.

Keywords: COVID-19, diarrhea, diagnostics, prevention, treatment.