Can Long COVID affect My Gut? Treatment Options for GI Symptoms

Long Covid, also known as post-acute Covid-19 or prolonged Covid-19, is a term used to describe the ongoing symptoms and health effects that some individuals experience after recovering from an initial Covid-19 infection. While the respiratory system is often the primary focus of Covid-19 treatment and research, long Covid can also have a significant impact on the gastrointestinal (GI) system.

Studies show that the COVID virus particles can be found in the human gastrointestinal system for months after acute infection.

GI symptoms are common in individuals with long Covid (it was one of the last symptoms to resolve for me), with research suggesting that they may occur in up to 60% of cases. These symptoms can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. In some cases, these symptoms may be severe and persistent, leading to significant impairment in daily functioning and quality of life.

The exact mechanisms behind the GI symptoms of long Covid are not yet fully understood. However, it is thought that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, may directly infect and damage the GI tract. The virus is known to bind to certain proteins called ACE2 receptors, which are found on the surface of cells in the GI tract.

In addition to direct viral infection, long Covid can also lead to GI symptoms through indirect mechanisms. The immune response to Covid-19, including inflammation and the production of immune cells and cytokines, may affect the GI tract and contribute to symptoms. Stress, anxiety, and depression, which are common among individuals with long Covid, can also have negative effects on the GI system.

The management of long Covid-related GI symptoms often involves a combination of medications and lifestyle changes. Over-the-counter antacids and acid blockers may be used to manage heartburn and acid reflux. Antidiarrheal medications, such as loperamide, may be used to manage diarrhea, while laxatives may be used to treat constipation. Probiotics and dietary changes, such as increasing fiber intake, may also be recommended.

In this video, Dr Vincent Ho explains the long term effects of Covid-19 on the gut and how to mitigate these effects.

In severe cases, more aggressive treatments may be necessary. For example, individuals with persistent vomiting may require intravenous fluids or medications to control their symptoms. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat complications such as bowel obstruction or perforation.

Treatment Options for Long COVID GI Symptoms that Worked for Me

  • Water fasting every two weeks to induce autophagy which heals your internal organs via cellular regeneration
  • Taking H1 and H2 Histamine blockers initially while healing the gut
  • Probiotics, especially Lactobacillus Plantarum
  • AIP Diet – The autoimmune protocol diet reduces systemic inflammation
  • Betaine HCI for low stomach acid
  • Peppermint pills to calm IBS-C symptoms
  • Licorice root to heal GI and antiviral, anti-parasitic, antibacterial properties
  • Slippery elm bark powder in smoothies to heal GI
  • L-glutamine to heal GI
  • Mastic gum to heal stomach lining and what felt like ulcers, though H.Pylori test was negative
  • toxins binder including bentonite clay, activated charcoal and chlorella
  • Beet root supplement to increase nitric oxide and support liver and gallbladder function

It is important to note that the long-term effects of long Covid on the GI system are not yet fully understood. More research is needed to better understand the mechanisms behind these symptoms and to develop effective treatment approaches. In the meantime, it is crucial for individuals with long Covid to seek medical attention for persistent or severe GI symptoms and to follow their healthcare provider’s recommendations for management.

Overall, it is clear that long Covid can have a significant impact on the GI system, leading to a range of symptoms that can be persistent and difficult to manage. While more research is needed to fully understand these effects and develop effective treatments, it is important for individuals with long Covid to seek medical attention for persistent or severe GI symptoms and to follow their healthcare provider’s recommendations for management.