Is Stomach Pain a Symptom of COVID-19?

A man in a blue shirt sits on a bench and holds his abdomen.
  • Stomach pain is a possible symptom of COVID-19, with studies suggesting that one-third of infected people may experience gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms.

  • This stomach pain can manifest as dull aches, cramps, or sharp, stabbing pains. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

  • Stomach pain alone is not a definitive sign of COVID-19, and many other conditions may be causing your discomfort. It is important to consider all possible causes and seek medical attention for severe or persistent symptoms.

Can COVID-19 Cause Stomach Pain?

COVID-19 is an illness that primarily affects the lungs, causing an infected person to experience respiratory symptoms.

However, it can also cause many other symptoms, including stomach pain and other GI complications.

Although stomach pain isn’t a common symptom of COVID-19, it has been reported in many cases.

In fact, studies suggest that one-third of people with COVID-19 may experience digestive symptoms and issues like acute abdominal pain or other upset stomach symptoms.

However, it’s important to note that stomach pain or other gastrointestinal manifestations alone aren’t definitive signs of COVID-19.

Other conditions like food poisoning, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or a stomach virus can cause similar abdominal pain-related symptoms.

If you’re experiencing stomach pain and are concerned about COVID-19, it’s best to get tested and make an appointment to see your doctor.

What Does COVID-19 Stomach Pain Feel Like?

COVID-19-related stomach pain can manifest in a few different ways.

Some people may experience dull aches or cramping sensations in their abdomen. Others may have sharp and severe abdominal pain.

You may also experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

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What are the Other Symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and fatigue. You may also have:

  • Body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Loss of smell or taste

If you have a severe case of COVID-19, you may experience:

  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bluish lips or face

Severe symptoms of COVID-19 require immediate medical attention as some of them can’t be treated at home. Failing to seek professional care for these symptoms may even be fatal.

Does COVID-19 Have Long-Term Effects on Your Digestive Health?

Research suggests that COVID-19 may have a long-term effects on your digestive health and GI tract.

Many COVID-19 patients have confirmed that they experience persistent GI gastrointestinal symptoms for months after their initial infection.

You may also experience unusual abdominal pain patterns and diarrhea, or lose your appetite.

However, these symptoms tend to only be present among people with severe cases of COVID-19.

Further research also suggests that COVID-19 may cause inflammation and damage to the lining of the digestive tract, leading to longer-term health issues.

Although some research has been done on COVID-19 and GI problems, more conclusive evidence is required to fully understand the long-term effects of the virus.

Other Common Causes of Stomach Pain

While COVID-19 can cause stomach pain, there are many other common causes of this symptom. These include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): A condition that develops when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest and stomach.
  • Peptic ulcer disease: An open sore in the lining of the stomach or small intestine that can cause pain and discomfort.
  • Gallstones: Small, hard deposits that can form in the gallbladder and cause pain in the upper digestive tract.
  • Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas, which can cause pain in the upper abdomen that radiates to the back.
  • Appendicitis: Inflammation of the appendix, which can cause severe pain in the lower right abdomen.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): A group of conditions that cause chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. These conditions can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): A chronic condition that affects the large intestine and causes abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, and changes in bowel habits.

If you are experiencing stomach pain, it is important to consider all possible causes. You should also seek medical attention if the cause of your pain is unclear or your symptoms are severe.

Your healthcare provider can help you determine the underlying cause of your stomach pain and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Shanta Williams, APRN

Shanta is a board-certified, multi-state NP who has worked in healthcare for over 14 years. She earned her M.S. in Family Nurse Practitioning. In 2020, she was one of the first Nurse Practitioners to assist with the COVID-19 outbreak in New York.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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