Man with Hoarse Voice Finds Leech Attached to His Throat

A Vietnamese man who started experiencing throat discomfort and speaking with a hoarse voice discovered that he had a 6-cm-long leech sucking blood from his throat.

Ever wake up with a soar throat and a scratchy voice? Of course, you have, but you probably never thought it was more than a mild cold. A 53-year-old Vietnamese man suffering these symptoms thought the same thing until he started spitting blood, at which point he realized things were worse than they appeared. At first, he tried identifying the cause himself, by opening his mouth and looking in the mirror, but he couldn’t see much apart from what looked like a brown mass in the upper part of his throat. The man panicked and immediately sought professional medical assistance; that’s how he learned that he had a leech attached to his throat.

When the man arrived at the National Hospital of Endocrinology in Hanoi complaining of throat discomfort and occasionally spitting blood, doctors performed an endoscopy that revealed a 6-cm-long leech attached firmly to his throat, firmly below the glottis near the trachea. Such discoveries are not unheard of – another Vietnamese man made news headlines in 2019 for the same reason – but they are considered extremely rare.

Leeches usually manage to enter the human body due to a lack of proper hygiene. In this particular case, the 53-year-old patient told doctors that he had sustained an injury to his hand while handling a mouse trap about a month prior. A fervent believer in Shennong herbal medicine, he went out and picked medicinal plants, put them in his mouth, and chewed them into a paste that he applied to his wound.

His hand was fine, but doctors believe that by putting the unwashed leaves in his mouth, he allowed a tiny leech access to his body. They are usually tiny, but by constantly feeding on blood, they can grow very fast.

To avoid such situations, doctors advise people to avoid contaminated water sources and dirty leaves while out in the wild.

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