While the other systems discussed over the previous weeks stood out as more disruptive of life, the GI tract and the skin are thankfully affected in lesser degrees. Interestingly, the virus can be found in stool samples an average of 28 days after disease onset despite the GI symptoms being milder than with diarrhea acutely.
What is not fully understood is the long-term effects of COVID 19 infection on the gut microbiome. Other research has revealed that other viruses like flu influence gut bacteria long term. Meanwhile, a bacteria called Faecalibacterium prausnitzii seems to offer some protection against COVID 19 infection. We await studies to determine if COVID 19 increases the rate of irritable bowel syndrome.
As noted, the skin has not been significantly impacted by this virus. Less than 5% of people overall reported skin rashes 6 months after the acute illness. The one more frequent skin manifestation is hair loss experienced by 1 in 5 COVID sufferers. This is probably just the condition called telogen effluvium which occurs with an acute stress such as injury, surgery, or severe illness.
Both conventional and functional medicine await the further investigations into the interplay of gut bacteria and viral infections hinted at by Faecalibacterium prausnitzii. Are there means of optimizing the gut bacteria known as the microbiome so that we are more resistant to viral infections? Time and research will tell.
Restoring healthier lives means that we apply what we do know to the developing situation as far as we can to remove the obstacles preventing our patients from enjoying family time, work productivity, exercise and life in general. Restored life is possible for those suffering from Long Hauler Covid.
Ani Nalbandian, Kartik Sehgal, Aakriti Gupta, Mahesh V. Madhavan, Claire McGroder, Jacob S. Stevens, Joshua R. Cook, Anna S. Nordvig, Daniel Shalev, Tejasav S. Sehrawat, Neha Ahluwalia, Behnood Bikdeli, Donald Dietz, Caroline Der-Nigoghossian, Nadia Liyanage-Don, Gregg F. Rosner, Elana J. Bernstein, Sumit Mohan, Akinpelumi A. Beckley, David S. Seres, Toni K. Choueiri, Nir Uriel, John C. Ausiello, Domenico Accili, Daniel E. Freedberg, Matthew Baldwin, Allan Schwartz, Daniel Brodie, Christine Kim Garcia, Mitchell S. V. Elkind, Jean M. Connors, John P. Bilezikian, Donald W. Landry, Elaine Y. Wan. Post-acute COVID-19 syndrome. Nature Medicine, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41591-021-01283-z
Thanks to Science Daily:
Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “Long-haul COVID: Physicians review what’s known.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2021. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210322175018.htm>.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.