Billions of children and teens have tested positive for COVID-19. Thankfully, infants so far have had a lower tendency than adults to get severe illnesses. Children can still acquire a number of different problems in the Post-COVID condition even if they have few or no symptoms. Some of them are minor and may go away. While some are more serious and may require medical attention.
What is the post-COVID-19 condition in children?
Post-COVID-19 condition refers to a group of long-lasting symptoms that affect children’s daily activities for more than four weeks after contracting COVID-19. Children infected with COVID-19 may have these symptoms for a long time or show up after they get better and have nothing else to do with it.
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Studies found that even months after the initial viral infection seemed to be gone, many children still had a wide range of symptoms that kept them from going back to their normal lives. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that not all symptoms children experience after contracting COVID-19 are related to the virus.
How real the post-COVID-19 condition is?
Dr. Danilo Buonsenso, a pediatrician at the Gemelli University Hospital, did a study in which he found that 60 days after an acute infection, a lot of children had at least one symptom. It indicates that post-COVID-19 condition in children is a big problem that may have been undetected. Children experience symptoms such as exhaustion, insomnia, joint discomfort, breathing problems, skin rashes, and heart palpitations.
These symptoms can last for months after the infection has disappeared. “Most of the children I’ve seen were completely healthy before Covid, they were doing sport, extra-school activities,” Buonsenso said. “And then they were not able to return to their normal school routine because they were getting headaches or had difficulty concentrating after a few hours, he added.
Recent statistics and publications from the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed mixed evidence regarding the prevalence of post-COVID-19 disease in adults and children with proven SARS-CoV-2 infection. According to data published up to 1 April 2021, 9.8% of infected children between the ages of 2 and 12 and 13% of those between the ages of 12 to 16 exhibited persistent symptoms at least five weeks following infection.
Post-COVID-19 condition can affect many organs. Typical neuropsychiatric symptoms include exhaustion, disorders of smell and taste, headache, and lack of concentration, whereas common respiratory symptoms include persistent cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath, among others. Children may also experience chest stiffness, palpitations, joint pain, and muscle pain.
COVID-19 typically affects the lungs, therefore persistent respiratory symptoms are not unusual. These symptoms can include chest pain, coughing, and increased breathlessness during exercise. Some of these signs can last for three months or more. Lung function tests may be required for children 6 years of age and older who have these persistent symptoms. Children with persistent breathing difficulties may require heart tests to rule out concerns such as blood clots.
Smell and taste
One-fourth or more of 10 to 19-year-old children and adolescents with COVID suffer altered smell and taste. This may affect their food habits and mood negatively. Additionally, it can prevent them from detecting harmful scents. These symptoms usually go away in a few weeks, but children have a hard time adjusting to the change.
In rare circumstances, acute COVID-19 can affect the nervous system. Children recovered from COVID-19 may exhibit modest alterations in attention, speech, academic performance, and mood. In this case, children may need the help of therapist to overcome the issues.
Children and adults who have undergone COVID-19 frequently complain of “brain fog,” which refers to difficulties in thinking, and concentrating. Additionally, they appear to be more forgetful and face difficulty paying attention. As they learn, they could become slower readers who require more repetition and breaks.
Even without heart or lung symptoms from Covid-19, children and teens may get tired more easily and also have reduced physical endurance. Usually, this gets better over time. Gradual increase in physical activity may help.
Headache is a common symptoms during and after infection with SARS-CoV-2. Getting enough rest, staying hydrated, eating regularly, and controlling stress can all help. If the headaches are lasting and extreme enough, it is best to visit a specialist.
Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)
It is an uncommon condition that normally develops within 2 to 6 weeks following Covid-19 infection. According to reports, children between the ages of 12 and 18 can avoid getting MIS-C by receiving two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. In a recent investigation, all of the seriously ill MIS-C patients who required life support were unvaccinated as well.
Children who develop MIS-C should be examined by a pediatrician as soon as possible. The condition can worsen quickly and has symptoms like fever without a clear explanation after having COVID-19. Children with this condition typically need to be admitted to the hospital, frequently in the intensive care unit.
What can be done?
There are currently no physical treatments, medications, or foods that help with the prevention of the post-COVID-19 condition. The only way to avoid post-COVID-19 conditions is to keep children safe from getting SARS-CoV-2 and get them vaccinated as recommended by the health sector.
When a child develops Post- COVID-19- conditions, their parents should take them to the hospital right away if they notice any of the above symptoms or any other signs that they didn’t have before getting COVID-19. Giving enough time to children, handling them patiently, taking them for proper check-ups after they report illness is necessary. With proper care, awareness and measures, the issues can be solved to some extend.