IBD and COVID-19

What You Need to Know

By Dr. Jessica Kimmel Patients with COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV2, may experience gastrointestinal symptoms alone or in conjunction with respiratory symptoms. Gastrointestinal symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal discomfort, which are often similar symptoms to those IBD patients experience related to their disease. If you develop these symptoms, it is important to discuss with your doctor whether this could be related to COVID-19, or another cause, such as medication side effects, a flare of your IBD, or a different gastrointestinal infection. In general, it is recommended that all patients follow social distancing and stay-at-home orders as well as frequent hand washing and avoidance of touching your face. These measures will decrease your risk of infection and help to flatten the curve. Having IBD has not been shown to increase your risk of infection with SARS-CoV2. However, IBD is often treated with immune modulating or immune suppressing medications. These medications may make you more susceptible to infections, like SARS-CoV2.Not all IBD mediations fit within this category, so it is important that you discuss with your doctor if your IBD medications place you at higher risk. It is recommended that you stay on your IBD medications to keep the inflammation in your intestinal tract under control. If you have concerns, and/or if you contract SARS-CoV2, even if you don’t have symptoms, you should notify your gastroenterologist to discuss if you should temporarily adjust your medications. If you receive infusions, please do not skip these appointments. Our office is taking extra precautions during infusions. If you have symptoms that you think may be related to COVID-19, please contact your doctor prior to your infusion. If you, or someone you know, has IBD and contracts SARS-CoV2, please encourage them to speak to their healthcare provider about registering for the SECURE-IBD database. This research is aimed to better understand how COVID-19 affects IBD patients and if IBD therapies may affect the course of COVID-19. To date, 580 patients worldwide have been enrolled in the study.[1] Thirty percent of patients required hospitalization with 5% requiring ICU care, and the risk of hospitalization increased with age. The majority of patients in remission or mild disease were treated as outpatients whereas a little less than half of patients with moderate/severe disease required hospitalization. More information is available at https://covidibd.org. If you need to speak to your Gastroenterologist call our office atat 212-794-0240. You can also book appointments online by clicking here. References: [1] Brenner EJ, Ungaro RC, Colombel JF, Kappelman MD. SECURE-IBD Database Public Data Update. covidibd.org. Accessed on April 17, 2020 [2] IOIBD Update for Patients with COVID-19 Crohn’s Disease and COVID-19 Ulcerative Colitis. Accessed April 17, 2020 [3] Coronavirus (COVID-19): What IBD Patients Should Know, https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/coronavirus/what-ibd-patients-should-know Accessed April 17, 2020

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