Patients with COVID-19 may develop an inflammatory thyroid disease called subacute thyroiditis, according to a new case study.
Subacute thyroiditis is characterised by neck pain and is usually preceded by an upper respiratory tract infection, the researchers wrote in a paper published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
The disease may be caused by a viral infection or a post-viral inflammatory reaction, and many viruses have been linked to the disease, the researchers said.
They noted that COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus has emerged as a pandemic with severe respiratory symptoms, and may involve other organs.
"We reported the first case of subacute thyroiditis after SARS-CoV-2 infection," said Francesco Latrofa, from the University Hospital of Pisa in Italy.
"Physicians should be alerted about the possibility of this additional clinical manifestation related to COVID-19," Latrofa said.
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, according to the researchers.
They noted 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, according to the researchers. The woman had normal thyroid functioning and imaging just one month earlier, they said.
"Because of the chronological association, SARS-CoV-2 may be considered accountable for the onset of subacute thyroiditis," Latrofa added.