Your Covid-19 questions answered

I’m feeling nauseous: Is it food poisoning, a tummy bug or Covid-19?

Gastrointestinal problems are among the lesser-known symptoms of Covid-19.
Gastrointestinal problems are among the lesser-known symptoms of Covid-19.
Image: 123RF/Siam Pukkato

Though a less common symptom of Covid-19, the coronavirus may cause gastrointestinal problems, including nausea and diarrhoea. Experts say it can be distinguished from food poisoning or viral gastroenteritis when it is accompanied by respiratory symptoms.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases explains that symptoms of eating contaminated food can develop within 30 minutes or a few hours and last a few days. The gastrointestinal symptoms may be more severe than a tummy bug.

Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis usually manifest one to three days after exposure to the virus and improve within days, lessening in severity over time.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Covid-19 symptoms can develop between two and 14 days after exposure to the virus and are usually accompanied by respiratory symptoms, including coughing, shortness of breath and muscle or body ache.

If you are experiencing both gastrointestinal problems and respiratory issues, it is advised to speak to a doctor or get tested for Covid-19.


BA.2 or “stealth Omicron” is now the dominant Covid-19 variant in the US and several countries in Asia and Europe.

Several doctors, including US vaccine expert Dr Risa Hoshino and Canadian emergency physician Chuck Wurster, have reportedly cited gastrointestinal symptoms among Covid-19 patients in recent weeks.

Though these accounts may be anecdotal, the link between gastrointestinal symptoms and the variant is still being studied.



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