Doctors in Houston, Texas are scratching their heads after a handful of COVID-19 survivors developed massively enlarged tongues.
The condition, called macroglossia, makes it impossible for patients to eat, drink or talk. Last fall, KHOU reported that there were two documented cases in the United States, which has swelled to nine patients – eight of whom are black, according to Dr. James Melville of the UTHealth School of Dentistry, who has become an expert in the condition.
Two of the patients had suffered strokes, while the other seven were hospitalized with COVID-19 before developing the rare condition.
More via KHOU:
Melville says the patients who had survived COVID-19 had inflammatory cells in their tongue tissue, which means there’s something about the virus that is making certain people more prone to the rare condition.
“I think it has a lot to do with where the virus is attaching itself and the body’s immune response to it,” said Dr. Melville.
He is now doing a study to figure out if there’s a common link in those patients’ genes. If doctors can answer that question, they hope they can also figure out how to prevent it.