Can Yellow Diarrhea Be a Symptom of COVID-19? Gastroenterologist explains.

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Yellow diarrhea can be a sign of Covid-19. Call your doctor immediately if you have other symptoms and signs of Covid-19, such as fever, shortness of breath, lost smell, or taste sensation.

How common is yellow diarrhea with covid-19?

Covid-19 can present with gastrointestinal manifestations such as diarrhea and abdominal pain.

The yellow color of diarrhea is a frequent finding in most cases of diarrhea. In addition, about 61% of Covid-19 patients report at least one gastrointestinal symptom during the disease (reference).

The yellowish discoloration is often due to the speeding up of intestinal contents. As a result, your stool will not have enough time to be processed into its standard brown color.

Although yellow diarrhea can occur with Covid19, it is not a specific symptom of the disease.

Diarrhea alone was reported in over one-third of Covid-19 patients. However, No specific study specifically targeted the prevalence of (yellow) diarrhea with the disease.

The table below shows the frequency of gastrointestinal symptoms with covid-19 (reference).

SymptomsPercentage (%)
Any gastrointestinal symptoms(61.3)
Loss of appetite(34.8)
Abdominal pain(14.5)
Weight loss(9.4)
Melena (Black stool)(0.63)
Reflux (acid reflux)(0.63)
Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)(0.31)
Odynophagia (Pain during swallowing)(0.31)
Hematochezia (red blood in stool).(0.31)

How to know if yellow diarrhea is due to Covid-19?

Yellow diarrhea can happen with Covid-19 infection. However, yellow-colored diarrhea as a single symptom is not specific for the Covid-19. It can occur due to a wide variety of causes such as:

  • Indigestion of a large fatty meal.
  • A gut infection with a protozoan called Giardia.
  • Stomach flu (viral Gastroenteritis).
  • Other types of gastroenteritis or food poisoning.
  • Stress/Anxiety situations.
  • Recent Use of Medications.
  • Acute Hepatitis A (especially in children).
  • Current binge drinking of alcoholo.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (especially diarrhea-predominant dominant)
  • Food sensitivities/intolerance.

Other causes of acute and chronic yellow diarrhea are explained in this article.

You can suspect Covid-19 as the cause of yellow diarrhea if you have the following symptoms (reference)

Symptoms of Covid-19:
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Myalgias
  • Headache
  • Dyspnea (new or worsening over baseline)
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Anosmia or other smell abnormalities
  • Ageusia or other taste abnormalities
  • Rhinorrhea and/or nasal congestion
  • Chills/rigors
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain or pressure

When to seek medical advice for yellow diarrhea and covid-19?

  • Yellow diarrhea for more than 48 hours (even without other symptoms).
  • Recent contact with a confirmed Covid-19 patient.
  • Having established gastrointestinal disease such as Crohn’s with recent flare-up (yellow diarrhea).
  • Yellow diarrhea is associated with one of the typical Covid-19 symptoms such as:
  • Fever.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Cough.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Headache.
  • Sore throat.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Lost taste or smell sensation.
  • Chills or rigors
  • Fatigue or dizziness.
  • Chest pain.

Can yellow diarrhea precede typical covid-19 respiratory symptoms?

In a small subset of covid-19 patients, gastrointestinal symptoms can precede respiratory symptoms (reference). Call your doctor if you have unexplained yellow diarrhea for 48 hours or more.

In a study of 1141 patients with COVID-19, 183 patients (16 percent) presented with GI symptoms (eg, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting) in the absence of respiratory symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath (reference).

MORE: Is Green Poop a Sign of Covid-19? 6 Essential Facts.