Inpatient consults for alcohol-related gastrointestinal (GI) and liver diseases have surged since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and remained elevated, a new study finds. The proportion of patients that required inpatient endoscopic interventions for their alcohol-related GI and liver diseases has also increased, highlighting an apparent worsening trend in the severity of the disease. “When we went into lockdown, many people experienced significant negative impacts, such as social isolation, job loss, and an increase in anxiety and depression,” said researcher Waihong Chung from Brown University in the US.
“These experiences may have led people to increase their alcohol consumption, which could explain why we are seeing a surge in the volume of consultations for alcohol-related diseases,” Chung added. For the study, to be presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW), the team conducted a hospital system-wide audit of all inpatient GI consults performed during the lockdown and re-opening phases in the US.
The data was compared to the same timeframe in 2019 to determine the degree of changes in disease burden for alcohol-related GI and liver conditions. While the total number of all GI consults declined by 27 percent during lockdown — due to restrictions on hospital visits — the proportion of consults for alcohol-related GI and liver diseases increased sharply by 59.6 percent, including alcohol-related forms of hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatitis, and gastritis, researchers found.
In comparison, there were no significant changes in the proportions of consults for non-alcohol-related liver diseases, biliary obstruction/injury, inflammatory bowel diseases, or gastrointestinal bleeding. In the reopening phase, the total volume of all GI consults was restored to full pre-pandemic levels and the proportion of consults for alcohol-related GI and liver diseases remained highly elevated by 78.7 percent.
Furthermore, patients presenting with alcoholic hepatitis more than doubled (127.2 percent) compared to 2019 and those requiring inpatient endoscopic procedures were considerably higher (34 percent vs. 12.8 percent). (IANS/JC)
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