Post-infection functional gastrointestinal disorders following coronavirus disease-19: A case-control study

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2022 Mar;37(3):489-498. doi: 10.1111/jgh.15717. Epub 2021 Nov 4.


Background and aim: Because acute infectious gastroenteritis may cause post-infection irritable bowel syndrome and functional dyspepsia and the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 affects gastrointestinal (GI) tract, coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) may cause post-infection-functional GI disorders (FGIDs). We prospectively studied the frequency and spectrum of post-infection-FGIDs among COVID-19 and historical healthy controls and the risk factors for its development.

Methods: Two hundred eighty patients with COVID-19 and 264 historical healthy controls were followed up at 1 and 3 months using translated validated Rome Questionnaires for the development of chronic bowel dysfunction (CBD), dyspeptic symptoms, and their overlap and at 6-month for IBS, uninvestigated dyspepsia (UD) and their overlap. Psychological comorbidity was studied using Rome III Psychosocial Alarm Questionnaire.

Results: At 1 and 3 months, 16 (5.7%), 16 (5.7%), 11 (3.9%), and 24 (8.6%), 6 (2.1%), 9 (3.2%) of COVID-19 patients developed CBD, dyspeptic symptoms, and their overlap, respectively; among healthy controls, none developed dyspeptic symptoms and one developed CBD at 3 months (P < 0.05). At 6 months, 15 (5.3%), 6 (2.1%), and 5 (1.8%) of the 280 COVID-19 patients developed IBS, UD, and IBS-UD overlap, respectively, and one healthy control developed IBS at 6 months (P < 0.05 for all except IBS-UD overlap). The risk factors for post-COVID-19 FGIDs at 6 months included symptoms (particularly GI), anosmia, ageusia, and presence of CBD, dyspeptic symptoms, or their overlap at 1 and 3 months and the psychological comorbidity.

Conclusions: This is the first study showing COVID-19 led to post-COVID-19 FGIDs. Post-COVID-19 FGIDs may pose a significant economic, social, and healthcare burden to the world.

Keywords: Beta coronavirus; COVID-19; Functional dyspepsia; Gastrointestinal symptoms; Gut-brain axis disorders; Irritable bowel syndrome; Post-infection IBS.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / complications
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases* / virology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2