Long COVID risk in kids: What are the symptoms you should look for?
1. How vulnerable are kids to the risks of long COVID?
Even though kids have a low documented risk of catching COVID-19, they still can fall prey to severe coronavirus, and post COVID-19 syndrome.
NHS surveys indicate that we may be facing a scenario where millions of children may require long-term care and rehabilitation. According to some statistics, nearly 12.4% of kids aged between 2-12, and 16% of those between 13-16 continue to showcase signs of infection 5 weeks after testing positive for the virus.
2. Kids can suffer from long COVID too
Long COVID, also known as post COVID syndrome is a scary phenomenon that is the newest thing to worry about, after the diagnosis and the ever-growing list of symptoms associated with the viral disease.
Known to impact one third of COVID patients after recovery, the symptoms, very much like COVID-19 can leave many in lingering pain, confusion and at the risk of chronic health problems.
While medical experts are still studying to find the link, what’s even more puzzling is that kids, as young as 6 are falling prey to the many risks associated with long COVID.
For an illness that’s not known to cause severe outcomes in children under the age of 16, the problem of long COVID will only make matters worse for kids, who also have to wait longer to get their hands on a vaccine.
3. What do we know about long COVID risk in kids?
Long COVID is known as a host of symptoms that impact recovered COVID patients weeks, or even months after fighting the infection.
Mimicking the classic COVID symptoms, people can experience a host of symptoms like persisting cough, myalgia, recurring fever, breathlessness, delusion and in many cases, acute cardiac, respiratory and neurological manifestations.
For kids, the dangers can be much worse. Experts worry that since most kids are diagnosed as asymptomatic, and said to recover faster, parents and doctors can fail to miss out on symptoms of long COVID or lingering side-effects in kids.
4. What are the commonly seen symptoms?
Researchers, analyzing the health of children affected by COVID-19 in the past months have observed the prevalence of a few signs and symptoms in kids, which might be linked to long COVID.
The findings of the study are available on a preprint server available on medRxiv, which took into account 129 children, diagnosed with COVID-19 (mild or severe) between the months of March 2020 to November 2020.
As per the study, most symptoms of post COVID syndrome were observed in kids who were symptomatic and had a brush with hospitalization.
While a lot still remains unknown, as to what causes these particular symptoms, these are the symptoms that were most commonly seen:
5. Insomnia and mental health problems
Perhaps the strangest sign observed in kids, pediatric patients suffering from COVID, as per studies also tend to have a higher risk for sleep disturbances and complications like insomnia.
Observed in a fifth of children suffering from COVID, insomnia is also a symptom that is seen in adults suffering from long COVID.
Chronic sleep disturbances and deprivation can also put children at the risk of developmental problems and health problems, if not taken care of in time.
Children may also be at risk of mental health problems, including mood swings and anxiety disorders.
6. Respiratory difficulties
While kids are more prone to respiratory infections like cold, flu and allergies, post-COVID syndrome can also leave lingering respiratory problems for younger kids.
Nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, chest tightness, pain could be signs of common respiratory complications kids can suffer from after an arduous COVID-19 battle.
Complaints of heart pain can also be common in kids with COVID.
Some reports also suggest that kids may also have a higher risk for chronic illness after COVID, than the ones who did not have COVID.
7. Tiredness, chronic pain
Tiredness, chronic pain and myalgia (muscle pain), likely a result of inflammation and attack on the muscle fibres can be just as common in kids, as it is for adults.
Myalgia and chronic fatigue are considered to be the toughest, and the most debilitating symptoms COVID patients have to battle and can zap out energy levels.
As many as 15% of kids as per studies complained of pain and exhaustion, weeks on after testing negative for the virus. A little less than 8% also report joint pain as a symptom.
8. Difficulty in concentration, confusion
Brain fog, confusion and symptoms which can impact cognitive functioning, may also drain kids and degrade the quality of life.
According to research-based findings, about 10% of kids reported to suffer from memory problems, felt tired more frequently and faced difficulty in concentrating.
Cognitive and neurological symptoms, which can be resultant of the viral load impacting vital nerves can be the hardest to deal with, and in the long-term, may also impact the quality of life.
9. Risk of seizures and paralysis
Another study done in the UK tracking pediatric COVID patients has also established a startling link, the risk of crippling health problems like paralysis, seizures, acute headaches as well.
10. What does it mean for kids future?
The COVID-19 pandemic has already prolonged the reopening of schools and educational institutions.
Experts worry that the prevalence of long COVID risk in kids, and the staggering number of cases found globally so far may further delay the timely reopening of schools, which could also impact their mental health.
Chronic health conditions and symptoms of long COVID could also mean that they’ll require long-term care, help to manage their symptoms.
If a vaccine doesn’t reach kids soon, it will also mean that more and more kids, in millions will be at the risk of debilitating health problems, whether or not they have a severe COVID case.
What we can do at Thechildplus children’s hospital?
We are expert at diagnosis of such diseases. Timely management and diagnosis is important. We are even arranging monthly followup visits for your child after covid recovery. Feel free to call us anytime if you have any emergency.