Hyderabad: The combination of diarrhoea, headache and abdominal pain is being noted along with respiratory distress in 19.8 per cent of Covid-19 cases, according to an analysis of patients. These symptoms are being seen as early indications of coronavirus infection.
Patients are coming to doctors with common complaints of loss of appetite, weakness, confusion and severe headache. Due to the change of season, and the warm and rainy days, many assume they are feeling down because of the weather.
Clinical evaluation and preliminary tests are needed to differentiate between typhoid, diarrhoea and Covid-19.
Experts state that due to self-medication, use of alternative medicines and inability to understand the symptoms, people are coming to hospitals with a combination of abdominal and respiratory infections. This combination increases the viral load in the body.
A distinct feature was that those who are looking very sick were actually having common seasonal diseases while those who are looking mildly sick are carrying the coronavirus.
Dr Navoday Gilla, senior general physician, said there were multiple representations of different symptoms before the stage of breathing difficulty sets in in Covid-19.
“The common symptoms after the seasonal change are that of the gastro-intestinal tract where stomach pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, constipation, headaches and confusion are also being noted. It may not necessarily be Covid-19 for everyone. But it does require preliminary evaluation and those who come to the hospitals early are better managed.”
The symptoms of fever, cough, cold and breathlessness are appearing after the other symptoms of diarrhoea and headache. Dr K.K. Aggarwal, president of the Confederation of Medical Associations of Asia and Oceania, said, “A person infected with diarrhoea increases the virus risk by four times. Exposure rate of other family members is high and causes formation of new clusters with these combinations.”
The combination of gastro-intestinal and respiratory problems are being understood now and experts state that as the season advances there will be much more learning. Headaches due to gastric issues were earlier resolved as a ‘gas problem’.
There is a lot of self-medication but that does not stop the virus as the other symptoms are found to emerge later.
Experts state that it is very important that people consult doctors early with their symptoms so that they can be provided with treatment. Delays can lead to complications, longer hospital stay and increase in fatality rate.
Can loss of smell and taste be a yardstick for Covid-19?
Loss of smell and taste is seen not only in Covid-19 but many conditions like simple cold, sinus infection, early stages of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease or simply ageing. It is difficult to standardise it and would not be the right yardstick state experts.
A recent study based on retrospective data of patients has found that those who had normal smell function in Covid-19 appeared to have complications and required ventilator support. Patients who had lost their sense of smell and taste had milder infections.
Experts state that it can be the early symptoms which people can note and become alert. Scientific testing and keeping it as one of the major yardsticks is rather difficult.
Inputs by Dr T. Narsinga Reddy, national vice-president of Indian Medical Association....