Prevalence of Dysphonia in Non hospitalized Patients with COVID-19 in Lombardy, the Italian Epicenter of the Pandemic

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Abstract

Introduction: Dysphonia has been described in patients affected by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of dysphonia, and its severity and extent, of voice fatigue and of dysphagia in non hospitalized patients affected by COVID-19 in Lombardy, the Italian region most hit by the first explosive outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe. Methods: Demographic and clinical data of 160 consecutive patients, with COVID-19 diagnosis confirmed by nasal swabs processed by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, were gathered by means of telephone interviews performed by physicians in charge of daily follow-up. General and specific symptoms concerning voice and swallowing impairment were investigated. Dysphonia grade and duration were graded on 4-point scales, while voice fatigue was graded on a 5-point scale. Results: Dysphonia was reported by 70 (43.7%) patients and was positively associated with voice fatigue (P < 0.001), cough (P = 0.005), rhinitis (P = 0.01), and dyspnea (P = 0.06); it was mild and/or moderate in 69 patients, but its duration was > 2 weeks in 33/70 (47.1%) patients and >1 month in 11/70 (15.7%). Grade and duration of dysphonia were positively associated with cough and rhinitis (all P values < 0.01). Voice fatigue was reported by 43/160 patients (26.8%) and its severity was correlated with dysphonia (P < 0.0001), cough (P = 0.02), rhinitis (P = 0.02), dyspnea (P < 0.001), and loss of appetite (P = 0.01). Dysphagia was encountered in 27/160 patients (16.9%) and was associated with dysgeusia, cough, arthralgia, myalgia and loss of appetite but not with dysphonia. Conclusions: Dysphonia was a highly prevalent and long-lasting symptom in this series; it has been underestimated to date. Further studies might shed light on the pathophysiology of voice disorders in COVID-19 patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Voice
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Dysphagia
  • Dysphonia
  • ENT
  • Infection
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Symptoms
  • Voice
  • Voice fatigue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN

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