COVID-19 is notorious for making poor dudes hack up a lung and run a fever. Butt did you know the bug can also give you explosive diarrhea?
SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus that causes COVID-19) wasn’t originally thought to be a culprit of poop problems during the pandemic. However, doctor dudes quickly noticed that COVID can attack your butt just as much as it attacks the rest of your body.
So, how do you know if your diarrhea is a symptom of COVID-19 or just a stomach bug?
In this article, you’ll learn how COVID-19 causes diarrhea, which symptoms to look for in the toilet, and how to get your pooping pattern back on track.
Can COVID-19 Cause Diarrhea?
Yes, diarrhea is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That’s because the virus can trigger inflammation in your digestive system, leading to loose, watery, explosive poops.
A 2022 study that examined 1,672 COVID-positive patients found that a whopping 41% of them had gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or a combination of these.
A similar study from 2021 found that nearly half of COVID-19 patients had digestive symptoms, along with the usual respiratory symptoms. For some people, tummy trouble is the only symptom of COVID, according to an early study from 2020.
Bottom line: don’t rule out COVID if you’ve got the runs.
FYI: COVID-19 infections also cause some other nasty GI symptoms, such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
4 COVID Diarrhea Symptoms
You might be wondering: Is COVID diarrhea different from “regular” diarrhea? In many cases, diarrhea is accompanied by other common COVID symptoms like fever, coughing, and body aches. But if we’re talking strictly about your stool, researchers have noticed a few specific characteristics that seem to be common for people with COVID-related diarrhea.
1. Pooping 3+ Times Per Day
Normally, diarrhea from your diet is a one-and-done type of situation. But if you’re blasting away on the throne several times a day, it could be a sign you’re sick with COVID-19 or another type of virus.
2. Mushy Texture
Approximately 64% of people with COVID diarrhea said their stool had watery or “mushy” texture, according to a 2020 study. Researchers say that’s because the virus inflames your GI tract, forcing food to go through your system before it has a chance to become solid.
Watery stool can quickly dehydrate you, so it’s important to drink plenty of water if you’re dealing with diarrhea.
3. Yellow Color
When poop moves through your system at a normal speed, your intestine absorbs some of the yellow fats in it. However, viruses like COVID make the poop move too fast, and the fat in your stool gives it a yellow-ish color.
4. Green Color
COVID-19 has also been known to give diarrhea a green color. This happens when your poop has too much bile: a greenish-brown fluid that’s stored in your gallbladder and released by your liver to help digest fats.
How Long Does COVID Diarrhea Last?
You can expect COVID-related diarrhea to last about five days. That number is based on a 2020 study which evaluated 90 COVID-positive patients who had watery stool as a symptom.
Most of the patients started to experience diarrhea three days after the initial onset of sickness.
4 Tips to Manage COVID Diarrhea
Pro tip: you may want to steer clear of anti-diarrhea medications like loperamide or diphenoxylate-atropine if you have COVID.
These medications cause digested food to move more slowly through your gut, which prevents cramping and diarrhea. But on the flip side, those medications can also slow the exit of the coronavirus from your body. Translation: you could keep yourself sick longer than you need to be.
Here are four diarrhea remedies that may be more reliable during a bout of COVID:
- Stay Hydrated: Diarrhea drains your fluids fast, so you’ll need to drink more than usual. Stick to water, fruit juice, low-carbohydrate sports drinks, salty broths. Stay away from caffeine as much as you can.
- Get Plenty of Rest: There’s no need to be a superhero if you’re sick. Get 8+ hours of shut-eye every night to help your body (and butt) recover faster.
- Eat Bland Foods: You might not have much of an appetite, but when it’s meal time go for bland foods to settle your stomach like toast, saltine crackers, and bananas.
- Take Anti-Nausea Medications: Feel like you’re gonna gag? Take some Dramamine (dimenhydrinate). It’s an over-the-counter chewable tablet that helps your body maintain its sense of balance.
Can COVID Spread Through Poop?
We come bearing shitty news: You can (potentially) catch COVID from an infected person’s feces.
A 2020 study found that SARS-CoV-2 RNA can be detected in poop from some asymptomatic and symptomatic individuals. Fecal shedding of the virus peaks in the symptomatic period and can last up to several weeks.
Translation: You shouldn’t share a toilet with someone who’s got the ‘rona. Butt if you must, make sure everyone’s using DUDE Wipes to destroy all the evidence of your dumps and leave your privates poopless.