Constipation after recovering from Covid – VnExpress

nCoV attacks the digestive tract, disrupting the beneficial bacteria system of the intestine, a side effect of some Covid-19 treatment drugs, making F0 prone to constipation.

A week after contracting Covid-19 in late February, 35-year-old Nguyen Thi Le started showing signs of constipation. She often has abdominal pain, less bowel movements, sometimes only once every 4 days, excretion is difficult. This situation continued for another two weeks, she went to Tam Anh General Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City for a checkup. She said that during the quarantine days at home, she drank water as usual, but mainly ate fast food to take advantage of time to deal with company affairs.

According to Dr. Nguyen Van Hau, Center for Endoscopy and Gastrointestinal Surgery, constipation is when adults do not defecate for more than three days, children cannot defecate three times in a week. There are two reasons why patients become constipated when they have Covid-19. The first is the pathogenic mechanism of nCoV, the virus enters and attacks the body through the ACE 2 receptor, which is abundant in the respiratory tract and digestive tract. Therefore, after recovering from Covid-19, the patient has a disorder of the beneficial bacteria system of the intestine – this is a common injury in the digestive tract. As a result, the patient suffers from constipation or diarrhea.

Some studies show that the ingredients in drugs that support and treat Covid-19 are also the cause of constipation. In 2021, in a study examining potential therapies to treat Covid-19, scientists found that constipation was a side effect of the drugs Famotidine and Bevacizumab. A study in May 2020 also found that 14% of people treated with the antiviral drug remdesivir also had problems with constipation. Medicines such as Lopinavir, Ribavirin, and some immunomodulatory drugs can cause constipation in people with Covid-19.

Dr. Hau said that in addition to medical reasons, many people suffer from constipation due to lifestyle habits. Like Ms. Le, she did not have time to rest even when suffering from Covid-19, stress and anxiety caused her to lose her defecation reflex and worsen constipation.

Doctor Tran Quang Binh, Medical Director of Tam Anh General Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, advises that to avoid constipation, first of all, it is necessary to improve the diet, using more vegetables and fruits with fiber to help the digestive process and contraction. Convenient stomach squeeze during defecation. In addition, patients keep an optimistic and positive spirit, avoiding stress and fear when they unfortunately have Covid-19. According to the body’s defense mechanism, when under stress, the body will activate priority to protect the function of the nervous, circulatory, and endocrine systems, not the digestive system. Because it is not a top priority, the digestive function slows down, contributing to constipation.

Doctors recommend drinking 1.5-2 liters of water per day. Water plays an important role in transporting substances in the body and making food easier to digest. Not enough water to meet the body’s needs can easily cause constipation. On the other hand, the patient is sedentary, lying in one place, the bowel movement is less activated, leading to difficulty in defecation. As a vicious cycle, one risk factor will lead to another risk factor, for example, side effects of Covid-19 treatment, digestive system disorder and finally constipation continues for a long time, becoming heavy.

Acute constipation can cause intestinal obstruction, which may even require surgery. Therefore, doctors recommend that when there are signs of constipation, the patient needs to be treated immediately.

Doctor Hau advises Ms. Le at Tam Anh General Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Hospital provides

In order to accurately diagnose the cause and optimally treat each patient, doctors will take the medical history and may coordinate blood tests, stool tests, X-rays, colonoscopy, post-operative manometry. rectal exam, other bowel function tests… Constipation treatment methods include physical therapy to restore defecation reflexes, instruction in defecation exercises, guidance on improving lifestyle , biofeedback Valsalva – Kegel, adjuvant…

As soon as there are signs of constipation, the patient should apply simple measures at home such as drinking lots of water, increasing fiber, not sitting for too long… Usually, these measures will help significantly improve the situation. constipation condition. If these measures do not improve, or the patient feels very uncomfortable, then you should see a doctor.

Ms. Le was examined by a doctor, assigned to measure the feeling of defecation, instructed to use hot milk mixed with coconut oil or olive oil early in the morning to stimulate the gastro-intestinal reflex, supplementing with fiber to create food for beneficial intestinal bacteria. and some foods for easy defecation. The doctor also suggested that she practice anal physiotherapy with two programs of Interference – balloon stimulation and high frequency anal electric stimulation. After two weeks of treatment, Ms. Le has fully recovered.

Hoang Trang


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