The coronavirus has been known to cause gastrointestinal symptoms, but it is still unclear whether this is due to inflammation, disruption to our microbiome, or the virus affecting the permeability of our gut wall. Gastroenterologist Siew Ng at the Chinese University of Hong Kong expected the impact of the virus to extend beyond the body’s airways as she remembered the SARS coronavirus outbreak of 2003. Ng and her colleagues anticipated that many people would develop gut problems. As these cases emerged, researchers tried to understand the link between COVID-19 and gut health. Recent studies suggest that the virus may infect the cells that line the digestive tract, leading to inflammation and damage to the gut lining. This damage can cause gut bacteria to leak into the bloodstream, leading to sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition. Other studies have suggested that the virus may disrupt the balance of gut bacteria in some people, leading to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria. Researchers are now trying to understand how changes in gut bacteria might affect the severity of COVID-19, and whether treatments that target the gut microbiome could be effective in treating the disease. While it is clear that the virus affects the gut, there is still much that is unknown about the mechanisms involved. Further research is needed to better understand the link between COVID-19 and gut health, and to develop effective treatments for those who experience gastrointestinal symptoms as a result of the virus.
COVID-19's impact on gut unknown