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How can COVID-19 affect my communication or swallowing?

COVID-19 is a new illness that affects your lungs and airways.

Many people will have mild symptoms of COVID-19 and will recover quickly. Some people have more severe symptoms of COVID-19 and need hospital treatment.

Some people many notice changes in their communication or swallowing after COVID-19.

Communication and COVID-19:
Feeling tired and fatigued means that talking and interacting with others may take more effort than normal.

Some people may also experience changes in their memory, thinking and attention as a result of the virus. This is known as ‘Cognitive Communication Disorder. It may be more difficult to stay focused in conversation, find words, or remember what you want to say. Some people may also say things that are socially inappropriate, without realising.

If a person has been intubated (following treatment in an intensive care unit), they may have noticed changes in their voice quality. Their voice may sound breathy, hoarse or quieter than normal.

Difficulties with communication may improve as a person’s overall recovery continues. If you have any concerns about your communication, please contact your local Speech and Language Therapy team.

Swallowing and COVID-19:
You may also have some difficulties with eating, drinking and swallowing. Weakness of muscles and tiredness after COVID-19 can mean it is harder to swallow, meaning that we may not enjoy food as much, which then leads to us not eating or drinking enough.

You may have specific advice provided to you from a Speech and Language Therapist, which you should continue to follow. If you have any concerns about your swallowing, please contact your local Speech and Language Therapy team.

For more information about COVID-19 and recovery, visit the NHS website.