A 60-year-old woman suffered ‘debilitating’ lesions on her tongue after receiving Pfizer’s Covid vaccine, with each injection making her symptoms worse.
His side effects, which also included dry mouth and swelling, were so painful that he was unable to eat.
Doctors struggled to find the culprit for nine months, during which he lost 17 pounds (8 kg).
When she was finally diagnosed, her swollen tongue had begun to split open leaving deep, agonizing sores.
He was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, a condition in which the immune system goes haywire and damages healthy parts of the body.
His symptoms were eventually cured with a six-week course of topical steroids.
Doctors recounted the rare side effect in a report published last month in the American Journal of Case Reports.
The unidentified patient, from Australia, received three doses of vaccine in total, two of which made up the initial course, as well as a single booster.
Similar symptoms have also been documented in patients infected with coronavirus, leading to the condition being dubbed ‘Covid tongue’.
A 60-year-old woman experienced severe tongue lesions and swelling after receiving doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine
The woman experienced tongue swelling and extreme discomfort from the injuries. She could barely eat and, as a result, she lost 17 pounds.
Oral sores are not a new phenomenon after vaccination and have been reported in people after vaccinations against influenza, hepatitis B, and papillomavirus.
But only a few cases have been reported after Covid vaccines, despite billions of doses being administered around the world.
What is Sjögren’s syndrome and how could a covid vaccine trigger it?
Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune condition that causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy cells that produce saliva and tears.
People of any age can develop Sjogren’s syndrome, but it is most often diagnosed in women over the age of 40.
The causes of Sjogren’s syndrome are unknown, but research suggests that some people are genetically more likely to get it.
Symptoms include dry mouth and eyes, fatigue, and joint pain.
While the Covid vaccines currently in use are highly safe and effective, there is always a risk that vaccination triggers an autoimmune response.
The unidentified patient developed mouth sores about three days after receiving the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
His symptoms had partially subsided before he received the second dose, after which the symptoms returned even more severe.
He underwent a chart of blood tests to rule out other diagnoses such as HPV and other infections.
She was referred to an outpatient rheumatology clinic with suspected Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the glands that produce moisture in the eyes, mouth and other parts of the body.
Doctors first prescribed a topical version of clonazepam, a benzodiazepine that, when taken orally, can treat burning mouth syndrome.
When that did little to ease her symptoms, doctors prescribed an oral steroid that made symptoms 60 percent better, but the treatment was stopped because it was causing the woman abdominal pain.
Doctors eventually settled on a lower-dose topical iteration of the steroid dissolved in water and taken constantly for about six weeks until symptoms abated.
The condition was not easy to diagnose and doctors were puzzled at first. Although oral symptoms may be associated with the Pfizer vaccine, they are rare and may not be recognized by providers who do not specialize in oral health care.
Writing in the journal, the doctors said: “Further review of the history and medication timeline, including vaccinations, identified a clear relationship between exacerbation of oral symptoms after each [Pfizer-BioNTech] vaccination.’
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) database for Covid vaccine side effects does not include oral symptoms.
An important caveat is that reporting of adverse effects is voluntary and therefore cases may not be reported.
“This case demonstrates that oral symptoms may be associated with BNT162b2 vaccination, which is likely unrecognized by professionals outside the oral health field,” the doctors said in the case study.
They advised the medical community to be on the lookout for similar unusual effects of vaccination:
Barely 68 percent of the US population, nearly 225 million people, are fully vaccinated against Covid, meaning they have received the prescribed two doses of vaccines.
Nearly 110 million Americans have received their first booster shot. Approximately 35 percent of the US population over the age of 50, the eligible subset, has received their second booster dose.
The most common side effects of receiving a COVID vaccine include soreness at the injection site, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, chills, and fever.