Is your child suffering from mood swings, depression, restless sleep, fatigue or breathing difficulties post Covid? Long Covid in children is a reality and around 30% of kids affected by the viral disease report long Covid symptoms which if not treated could worsen and in some cases can cause serious health issues. Experts say it’s important for parents of all age groups to stay in touch with doctors even after recovery from Covid to rule out long Covid issues which may linger on and affect a child’s health and quality of life. (Also read: These post Covid illnesses can kill; doctors on how to avoid them)
When one or more symptoms persist for more than 12 weeks in a child post Covid which cannot be explained by any other diagnosis, it is called Long Covid. Experts say that there could be different symptoms of long Covid in different age groups though fatigue remains a common sign in almost all kids suffering from this syndrome.
“One thing that is common among all age groups is fatigue. Most of the parents complain that after Covid, the child is very tired. This is equally common in all age groups,” says Dr Amish K Vora, Pediatric and Neonatal Intensivist, ECLS Specialist, Consultant in Pediatric Intensive Care, Masina Hospital Mumbai in a conversation with HT Digital.
How common in long Covid in kidsMany studies done in the western world and published in scientific literature have different results. The one recently published in journal Pediatrics concluded that almost 25% of the children who suffer from Covid-19 can present with long term issues for months. Similar studies have been published in Lancet Child & Adolescent Health and Scientific Reports. A study conducted by Dr Randolph at Critical Care Unit of Boston Children’s Hospital (Harvard University) concluded that almost 34% of kids who were severely infected with covid can present with symptoms for 4-6 months. Factors such as severity of infection, level of immunity, pandemic stress and vaccination status- all affects the Long covid duration,” says Dr Charu Dutt Arora, Infectious Diseases Specialist and Head, Ameri Health, Asian Hospital.We generally divide children into three age groups roughly – less than 5 years, middle age group which is 5-12 years and adolescents or young adults which is 13-18 years. Long Covid is common in all age groups. All three age groups show about 30 per cent chances of having long covid syndrome. Younger ones that are less than 5 years, between 5-12 years and above 13 years all have chances of getting long covid and it is more common than adults. 1 in 3 children get this,” says Dr Vora.
“Fatigue, fever, headache, sore throat, cough, brain fog (difficulty in focusing), weakness, sleep disturbances, light headedness after standing, muscle and joint pain, depression/anxiety and altered sense of smell or taste are among the symptoms of long Covid in kids,” says Dr Ujjwala Keskar, Consultant Pediatrics, Manipal Hospitals.
Dr Charu Dutt Arora says a gamut of symptoms ranging from headache to cardiac issues- all can be present in Long Covid in children and adolescents. The three most common symptoms include fatigue, mood issues and sleep disturbances. “It has been seen that headache, muscle pain, body pain, loss of smell, early fatiguability, shortness of breath and circulatory issues can be seen in kids with long Covid. These are more commonly seen in children who have pre-existing illness such as asthma, eczema and auto immune issues or who had severe Covid-19 infection which required steroid/oxygen therapy,” says Dr Arora.Dr Amish K Vora explains in detail how long Covid symptoms affects kids and how to manage them.
– We often hear parents saying that the child is getting moodier and is not the same before and after Covid.
– The anxiety of the strangers is heightened. Many kids have stranger anxiety but they do not have paranoid or other symptoms which we see in a lot of patients of post covid.
* Developmental disorders
– Children less than 5 years of age show more of anxiety and they may also have developmental malalignment or disorder where they are not developed as per their growth and developmental parameters.
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