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Florida man travels to Houston after suffering from enlarged tongue following COVID-19 diagnosis

HOUSTON – A Houston doctor helped restore a Florida man’s quality of life after he suffered from a rare condition while being treated for COVID-19.

Anthony Jones didn’t get Macroglossia from COVID-19 itself. The 47-year-old’s tongue began swelling while being treated for the virus in July. Macroglossia, a medical term for an enlarged tongue, it is extremely rare and uncomfortable. Jones said his tongue stuck out of his mouth three inches.

“My tongue sticking out my mouth, it would get heavy at times,” Jones said.

Jones, who lives in Lake City, Florida, was hospitalized for three weeks because of the coronavirus. Jones was placed on his stomach for 12 hours a day to help his lungs heal from the virus.

During that time, his tongue became enlarged, making it hard to talk or eat. Jones said his doctor was stumped.

“He had never seen anything like it before and he had told me the only thing he could do was cut it,” Jones recalled. “He said he didn’t know how much to cut. He said if he had cut too much I would never be able to talk or eat again.”

Through online research, Jones’s mother found a doctor hundreds of miles away at UT Health School of Dentistry in the Texas Medical Center. Oral surgeon Dr. James Melville had treated five others with macroglossia and was eager to help Jones.

“It’s like a water balloon. So essentially you have a water balloon dragging it down and the body scars it,” Dr. Melville said. “I was excited about the surgery because I knew from my previous surgery that I could give him a solid quality of life.”

Jones flew to Houston in October and had a successful surgery. The Florida resident has a reason to smile again. He’s grateful to have a huge weight lifted off his shoulders. Jones can now talk and eat again, though the pressure of the enlarged tongue forced him to remove four bottom teeth.

“Oh, it’s a blessing. I think my taste buds are better now than they were before,” Jones said.

He returned to Houston this week for his second follow-up appointment with Dr. Melville.

“His function and speech are a lot better than when I saw him three months ago and that will progressively improve and improve and get better,” said the oral surgeon.

Jones is planning to get implants to repair the damage the swollen tongue caused.