The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are pretty much what you’d expect from a respiratory disease: fever, persistent cough, fatigue, and muscle pain. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many people with COVID-19 experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea—sometimes even before developing the respiratory tract symptoms.
“COVID-19 can present in many ways. I have seen patients who only have symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, but they usually also have a fever,” Jorge Vournas, MD, medical director of the Emergency Department at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Centerin Torrance, California, tells Health.
Anecdotally, vomiting has been linked to COVID-19. In March, 22-year-old Amy Shircel from Madison, Wisconsin, began detailing her COVID-19 symptoms in a series of tweets. “I’m 22 and I tested positive for COVID-19. Take it from me – you do NOT want to catch this,” she wrote. Shircel shared that the first few days of her illness were manageable, with a mild cough, headache, chills, and a runny nose. Because she had just visited Europe recently, her state allowed her to get tested for COVID-19 with minor symptoms. But things progressed on the third day. “I couldn’t keep anything down. I was vomiting constantly. I couldn’t sleep, I obviously couldn’t eat,” she wrote. The next day, she received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. She detailed her symptoms through day 12 of her illness—after being hospitalized for dehydration—and still had “all the major symptoms” even then, but is apparently recovered now.