COVID-19 Symptoms Can Differentiate Respiratory Diseases, Study Says

Among patients with COVID-19, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma were more prevalent than allergic rhinitis.

The presence of COVID-19 symptoms in patients with the virus can be used for differential diagnosis between COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases, according to a study published in The International Journal of Clinical Practice.

These symptoms include fever, dry cough, diarrhea, loss of smell and taste, shortness of breath, and blue lips.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a global impact, there is high interest in developing a rapid differential clinical diagnosis of the virus among respiratory disease patients. This can also help determine the prevalence rate of these diseases among people with COVID-19.

The authors said a chest computerized tomography (CT) scan can confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis without a nasopharyngeal swab or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, especially in epidemic countries. Based on radiological features, the study found that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma were more common among patients with COVID-19 patients than allergic rhinitis.

The retrospective study collected the data of approximately 522 patients with COVID-19, allergic rhinitis, asthma, and COPD from Beni-Suef University hospital and Hospital of Chest Diseases in Beni-Suef, Egypt. Using this data, the researchers looked for demographic and clinical features.

The study included about 312 (59.8%) females and 210 (40.2%) males, with 146 (28%) patients aged 18-30 years, 253 (48.5%) aged 30-45 years, and 123 (23.5%) aged 45-60 years.

The patients were sorted by those with:

  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Asthma
  • Asthma and allergic rhinitis
  • COPD
  • COVID-19

The patients with COVID-19 were further subdivided into 3 groups:

  1. Patients with COVID-19 only
  2. Patients with COVID-19 and COPD
  3. Patients with COVID-19 and asthma

The authors found a significant difference in the prevalence of the 3 respiratory diseases among patients with COVID-19. Among the 228 patients in this group, approximately 70 (30.7%) had asthma and 80 (35.1%) had COPD. There were no patients with COVID-19 and allergic rhinitis.

“All chest CT scans of COVID-19 patients (228 patients, 100%) showed bilateral ground-glass opacity with abnormal findings on chest CT,” the authors wrote. “Comparing categorical variables between patients groups using the chi-square test showed that symptoms of all COVID-19 patients were significantly different compared with allergic rhinitis, COPD, and asthmatic patients who did not have COVID-19 infection at P < .05.”

The presence of the aforementioned symptoms of COVID-19 were significantly higher in all patients with COVID-19 compared with other groups (P < .05). Age, gender, and patient comorbidities had no significant effect on the findings of each group studied.

Patients with allergic rhinitis seemed to be less vulnerable to COVID-19 compared with those who have COPD or asthma, the study concluded.

Reference

Sarhan RM, Mohammad MF, Boshra MS. Differential clinical diagnosis and prevalence rate of allergic rhinitis, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among COVID-19 patients. Int J Clin Pract. Published online June 15, 2021. doi:10.1111/ijcp.14532