Researchers have found that patients with COVID-19 may develop an inflammatory thyroid disease called subacute thyroiditis.

Subacute thyroiditis is an inflammatory thyroid disease characterised by neck pain and is usually preceded by an upper respiratory tract infection.

According to a new case study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, it may be caused by a viral infection or a post-viral inflammatory reaction, and many viruses have been linked to the disease.

SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) has emerged as a pandemic with severe respiratory symptoms and may involve other organs. More than five million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide.

“We reported the first case of subacute thyroiditis after SARS-CoV-2 infection,” said study researcher Francesco Latrofa from University Hospital of Pisa in Italy.

“Physicians should be alerted about the possibility of this additional clinical manifestation related to COVID-19,” Latrofa added.

For the findings, the clinicians examined an 18-year-old woman who was infected with COVID-19 after being exposed by her father.

She completely recovered from COVID-19, testing negative a few days later, but started experiencing some additional symptoms. The young woman had neck and thyroid pain, fever and an increased heart rate. She was sent back to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with subacute thyroiditis. She had normal thyroid functioning and imaging just one month earlier, the researchers said.

“Because of the chronological association, SARS-CoV-2 may be considered accountable for the onset of subacute thyroiditis,” Latrofa said.

As of Friday morning, the overall number of global coronavirus cases has surged to over 5.1 million, while the death toll stood at 332,900, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

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