Yes, COVID-19 can cause stomach problems.

Early reports vary as to how often the new coronavirus causes stomach issues like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and doctors are learning more all the time. 

The largest study to date pulled together 31 different studies (including nearly 47,000 patients), and found that about 7% of people with COVID-19 had diarrhea. On average, diarrhea started about three days after they first felt ill. Another review analyzed data from about 2,000 COVID-19 patients, and about half of the patients complained of a poor appetite. So far, vomiting seems to be more common in children than in adults, and relatively few patients have complained of nausea. 

Relatedly, researchers have found the virus in COVID-19 patients’ stool, and they warn that you may be able to spread the disease with unclean hands after using the restroom. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, or--at the very least--use hand sanitizer, and avoid others who are sick to protect yourself and those around you from illness. 

In short, stomach issues--particularly diarrhea and loss of appetite--can be symptoms of COVID-19. If you develop these or other symptoms and are concerned that you may have COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider for recommendations. 

Last updated April 10, 2020

Science review by ERS, GSN