Dysphonia and laryngeal problems are some of the manifestations of the COVID-19 pandemic due to respiratory disease as a primary effect of COVID-19. The aim of the present study was to investigate voice quality and vocal tract discomfort symptoms in patients with COVID-19.
Materials and methods:
Forty-four COVID-19 patients with a mean age of 49.61 ± 16.48 years and 44 healthy subjects with a mean age of 48.52 ± 13.8 years participated in the study. The voice quality of the participants was evaluated using auditory-perceptual evaluation with the Grade, Roughness, Breathiness, Asthenia, and Strain (GRBAS) scale. The vocal tract discomfort symptoms of the participants were assessed using the Persian version of the VTD scale.
Patients with COVID-19 had higher scores in all items of the GRBAS, including grade, roughness, breathiness, asthenia, and strain, than healthy subjects, and these differences were statistically significant (P < 0.05). Among the GRBAS parameters, grade had the highest effect size and asthenia had the lowest effect size in both speech tasks. The COVID-19 patients had a greater frequency of vocal tract discomfort symptoms than healthy subjects in all items of the VTDp scale and these differences were statistically significant (P < 0.05) in the following items: burning, tight, dry, pain, sore, irritable, and lump in the throat. The most and the least effect size in frequency of the vocal tract discomfort symptoms were related to dry (d = 1.502) and tickling (d = 0.157), respectively. Also, COVID-19 patients had more significant severity in all items of the VTDp scale except tight and tickling. The most and the least effect size in severity of the vocal tract discomfort symptoms was related to dry (d = 1.416) and tickling (d = 0.152), respectively.
The present study suggests that COVID-19 patients have more deviations in voice quality than healthy subjects. Moreover, mild vocal tract discomfort is prevalent in patients with COVID-19, and patients have more frequent and severe physical discomforts of the vocal tract than healthy subjects.
COVID-19; Vocal Tract Discomfort; Voice; Voice disorders.