Your intestinal bacteria may be altered by COVID-19, which could affect how sick you become with the disease and potentially how long it lasts, according to a new study.
Researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that patients with COVID-19 had “significantly altered” gut biome compared to people without the disease. They found that the disruption was evident for at least 30 days after patients recovered.
According to the New York Post, the researchers discovered a correlation between severe illness and high levels of inflammatory cytokines in the blood plasma of sickened patients and “substantial involvement” of the GI tract during infection.
“Although COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory illness, there is mounting evidence suggesting that the GI tract is involved in this disease,” the authors wrote in Gut, a publication of the British Medical Journal, adding that the gut microbiota affects immune response to the disease and could play a role in its severity, according to the Post.
They stated that the imbalance of the intestinal bacteria they observed even after the disease itself was resolved could be a contributing factor to what is called “long COVID-19,” symptoms that persist for months.
As many as one-third of COVID-19 victims develop lingering symptoms, according to The New York Times. These can range from chest pain and fatigue to heart irregularities. Some victims are unable to return to work and may require long-term medical care.
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