COVID-19 second wave: Digestive complaints post recovery go up

The second wave of COVID-19 has been accompanied by a significant surge in digestive issues associated with it, such as gaseousness, bloating and acidity, amongst others. On a daily basis, inform doctors, more than 10 patients have complained of gastrointestinal issues after recovering from the virus. Such cases are said to have been increasing at an alarming rate due to the prolonged lockdown.

A healthy diet, regular exercise, good sleep, and keeping stress at bay are the four pillars of a healthy digestive system. Over the last year, people all over the country have been confined to their homes. As the lockdown has progressed, there has been an outpour of food-related posts on social media, reflecting an increased interest in cooking.

Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker, laparoscopic and bariatric surgeon, Saifee Hospital, believes that many people have found solace in cooking gourmet meals and relishing them frequently. Additionally, there is an increase in the consumption of outside food. The closure of all outdoor avenues for physical activity and exercise and an increase in stress levels, as people are trying to deal with illness, loss of loved ones and financial losses, have had an adverse impact on the overall health and well-being, especially on digestive health.

“It is now known that COVID-19, by itself, can also lead to gastro-intestinal presentation in the form of loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and pain in the abdomen. Along with this, there is an increase in the number of patients who present with a range of digestive issues like bloating, gaseousness, acidity, acid reflux, constipation, and exacerbation of irritable bowel syndrome, in the recovery phase. The treatment of COVID-19 includes multiple drug combinations. Antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, antimalarials, and steroids need to be used in many patients and tend to take a toll on the gastro-intestinal system during the recovery phase,” she said.

Dr Aparna said, after the recovery phase, it is advisable to remain in touch with your physician. If there is an increase in gastro-intestinal symptoms, contact your doctor at the earliest for timely care. Moreover, a healthy diet needs to be followed post-COVID-19 recovery so that a person's immune system is boosted. “Individuals should avoid outside food and special care must be taken to avoid an oily and excessively spicy diet. Moreover, regular exercise is also very important for digestive health and a good sleep cycle is essential for good health,” she added.

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