COVID-19 has been raging for over a year. Against the backdrop of mass vaccination, restrictions in Russia are slowly being eased. But this is not a reason to lose vigilance: obviously not everyone will be vaccinated. At the same time, as you know, coronavirus infection undermines not only lung function. It "leaves its mark" for a long time in every corner of the human body. The digestive system is especially hard hit - mainly the stomach, intestines and liver "get".
How COVID-19 harms the intestines
The main target of COVID-19 is type 2 ACE receptors. It is their coronavirus that uses as a key to the human body. Attached to receptors - and can capture territory. ACE 2 is found in the lungs, intestines, liver and biliary tract. This partly explains why coronavirus infection affects the gastrointestinal tract.
Studies have shown that even after the disappearance of respiratory symptoms (cough, fever, loss of smell), the virus can persist in the patient's intestines for up to 1, 5 months. A person can feel it, or maybe not. Typical manifestations from a diseased intestine: violation of stool (diarrhea), abdominal pain, heartburn, bloating, increased gas production.
What happens to the gastrointestinal tract while COVID-19 is there? Scientists have found that the virus, firstly, destroys the intestinal mucosa and increases its permeability to bacteria and toxins. And, secondly, it disrupts the balance of the intestinal microflora. In addition to COVID-19, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) and antiplatelet drugs, which are used in the treatment of this viral infection, have a negative effect on the gastrointestinal tract.
Ultimately, the patient develops leaky gut syndrome, which can bring a lot of health problems. It's not just the digestive system that suffers. Due to the fact that pathogens begin to penetrate into the blood, a person feels increased fatigue, experiences headaches, and may suddenly develop allergies. In the long term, more serious consequences are possible: disruptions in the functioning of the brain, endocrine and cardiovascular systems.
What Happens to the Liver in COVID-19
The liver is an organ that passes through itself absolutely everything that enters the body. Therefore, COVID-19 cannot bypass it. The incidence of liver damage in coronavirus ranges from 15% to 53%.
Coronavirus infection affects the liver from three sides:
- direct viral infection,
- immune responses,
- drug damage (drugs used to treat COVID are hepatotoxic).
Scientists are not yet able to determine which of these factors plays a key role. But one thing is very clear: the liver must be protected when infected with COVID-19. Especially for people with pre-existing chronic diseases of the hepatobiliary system. These patients are known to be at risk for a more severe course of coronavirus infection.
How to help the liver and intestines
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the National Medical Association for the Study of Co-morbid Diseases (NAMA) has released the National Consensus - a document for physicians on how to protect and restore the gastrointestinal tract in COVID-19
- to prevent and eliminate increased permeability of the gastrointestinal mucosa, gastroenteroprotectors from the rebamipide group (rebagit) should be used. This substance restores the mucous barrier throughout the digestive tract. In addition, studies have shown that rebamipide has a positive effect on the respiratory system.
- to prevent liver damage, NASZ recommends the use of ursodeoxycholic acid preparations (ursosan). UDCA protects not only liver and bile duct cells.Scientists from Shanghai University in China have found that this drug reduces inflammation in the airways, the risk of developing a cytokine storm, pulmonary edema and fibrosis.
When is prevention needed?
Official instructions for doctors prescribe drugs to patients at risk of being infected with COVID-19. This primarily applies to patients with chronic diseases of the liver, gallbladder, stomach and intestines.
It is not recommended to take medications without a doctor's prescription. Consultation of a specialist is required.