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Teen Loses Voice Following COVID-19 Infection, First Case In World

This unique case highlights the potential impact of COVID-19 on vocal cords, a condition more commonly observed in adults.

Edited By : Priyanka Negi | Updated: Dec 25, 2023 09:51 IST
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A 15-year-old girl lost her voice after contracting SARS COVID-19, which paralyzed her vocal cords in Massachusetts, according to the medical journal Pediatrics. This is the first case of a teen losing their speech under these circumstances.

According to reports, “a healthy teen went to the emergency room at Massachusetts General Hospital after nine days of her COVID-19 diagnosis.” During the treatment, doctors found that she had lost all mobility in her larynx due to a condition called bilateral vocal cord paralysis.

According to the journal, “this is the first case of vocal cord paralysis in a teenager after a COVID-19 diagnosis, though there have been reports of the condition in adults.” Days after a positive SARS-CoV-2 test, the girl presented to a hospital emergency department. Her initial symptoms, including congestion, fever, and fatigue, improved after five days. But she reported having trouble breathing suddenly nine days after the positive test, especially when active.

In the course of medical treatment, physicians determined that the teenager’s prior COVID-19 infection seemed to have impacted her vocal cords, potentially contributing to numbness and weakness on one side of her body.

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She underwent a tracheostomy, a procedure involving the creation of an airway through the neck. Dependent on this artificial breathing method for 15 months. Researchers noted she was breathing without the device just in time for her high school graduation and prom, 15 months after the procedure.

“She was having her senior prom a year and a quarter to the date of when she lost her function, and she told me she was not going to go to the prom with her tracheostomy in place,” says senior author Dr. Christopher Hartnick, also director of the Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology and Pediatric Airway, Voice and Swallowing Center at Mass Eye and Ear.

“We decided to intervene so that she could graduate high school and go to her prom tracheostomy-free, which she did,” reported the New York Post. According to researchers, this sort of vocal cord paralysis is more common in adults and is often caused by COVID-19 through a series of nerve-damaging conditions called post-viral neuropathy.

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First published on: Dec 25, 2023 09:51 AM IST

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