The findings — published recently in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology — are based on 17,462 patients hospitalized for COVID-19. More than 3,200, or 18.5%, had GI manifestations.
Of those patients, 715 returned three and/or six months later for an outpatient visit. For 90% or more, problems with gastroenteritis, pancreatitis and GI bleeding had resolved.
Meanwhile, 81 patients with malnutrition were still unable to gain weight at the three-month mark. Their median weight loss was around 15 pounds — meaning half had dropped more, and half less.
By the six-month point, 44 patients were still struggling to pack on some pounds, with a median weight loss of about 18 pounds.
Trindade pointed to the positives in the findings. “It is reassuring that the vast majority of GI issues resolved,” he said.
But for those with stubborn weight loss, Trindade said, it’s important to have ongoing care, including visits with a nutritionist whenever possible.
Glatt said that with the range of “long haul” symptoms turning up in COVID patients, “there is no one-size-fits-all management.”
“It’s important that you be followed up by the appropriate specialist for your symptoms,” he said.
Glatt also stressed the importance of prevention, through vaccination and measures to avoid contact with the virus.
“The best way to avoid these long-term symptoms is to not get COVID,” he said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on long COVID.
SOURCES: Arvind Trindade, MD, associate professor, Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health, Manhasset, N.Y.; Aaron Glatt, MD, chief, infectious diseases, Mount Sinai South Nassau, Oceanside, N.Y., and spokesman, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Arlington, Va.; Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, June 30, 2021, online