Is there a link between altered gut bacteria and prolonged covid? This is what a study says


Many people affected by COVID-19 have reported symptoms of long covid including muscle weakness, fatigue, and insomnia. The condition is also known as post-acute Covid syndrome (PACS).

By now, it has been established that Covid is not just a respiratory infection; the virus also affects other organs of the body. Shedding more light on the same, a new study has now confirmed the role of gut microbiome on immunity and general health, adding that there may be a link between gut disturbance or gut dysbiosis and prolonged covid

published in the magazine Intestinestudy by The Center for Gut Microbiota Research found what has been called the “first evidence of gut dysbiosis in people with long covid up to six months after their initial SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

As part of the study, the researchers conducted a prospective analysis of 106 patients with a spectrum of COVID-19 severity followed from admission to six months and 68 controls without COVID-19. “We analyzed the serial fecal microbiome of 258 samples using shotgun metagenomic sequencing and correlated the results with persistent symptoms at six months,” the research noted.

Results indicated that at six months, 76 percent of patients had PACS and the most common symptoms were fatigue, poor memory, and Hair loss. “The composition of the intestinal microbiota at admission was associated with the appearance of PACS. Patients without PACS showed a recovered gut microbiome profile at six months comparable to controls without Covid-19. gut microbiome of PACS patients were characterized by higher levels of Ruminococcus gnavus, Bacteroides vulgatus, and lower levels of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii,” it said.

The study noted that the findings provided observational evidence of alterations in the composition of the gut microbiome in patients with long-term complications from Covid-19. Further studies should investigate whether modulation of the microbiota can facilitate the timely recovery of PACS.

How does gut health matter in Covid? (Source: Pixabay)

As Covid 19 is still a multi-system disease, experts point out that it affects the gastrointestinal system. “Associations between gut microbiota composition, cytokine levels, and inflammatory markers in COVID-19 patients suggest that the gut microbiome is involved in the magnitude of COVID severity, possibly through modulation of host immune responses,” said Dr. Rakesh Rajpurohit MD, Consultant Pulmonologist, Critical Care Medicine at Jain Multi-Specialty Hospital, Mira Road.

Explaining further, Dr. Ashit Bhagwati, Honorary Consultant, Internal Medicine and Honorary Academic Director, ICU, Bhatia Hospital Mumbai, mentioned that bacteria in the gut are a protective mechanism, and in long-term Covid patients, long-term therapy with Antibiotics affect the microbial flora of the intestine.

“The excessive use of antibiotics causes damage to the lining of the intestinal mucosa. To counteract the damage, appropriate therapeutic treatment such as probiotics, a lactose-free diet to restore intestinal flora, review antibiotic use for intestinal antibiotics as needed is recommended for easier binding of feces and healing,” said Dr. Bhagwati. .

Dr. Rajpurohit further said that regardless of antibiotic use, “the imbalance of gut flora that occurs after resolution of the disease could contribute to the persistence of symptom in patients”.

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