Early in 2020, COVID turned our lives upside down in all aspects of life. Millions of people have lost their lives, and thousands of people who contracted the virus are still recovering. While we are all anxious to get back to our “normal” lives, COVID is still lingering and impacting our lives in several ways. Let’s learn about COVID in children.
Symptoms of COVID
Symptoms of COVID in children are often similar to those seen in adults. However, most children are often more resilient than adults, so symptoms tend to be milder and shorter in duration than those experienced by adults. Children are also more likely to be asymptomatic than adults. But if they do contract the virus, the symptoms typically begin within 2-14 days from the time of exposure and can include:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Body aches
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of taste or smell
Not all children infected with COVID will experience all these symptoms, and some may experience no symptoms at all. Children may also have symptoms not noted on the list above.
Risk Factors for Severe COVID in Children
Some aspects of COVID are still not well known. One thing researchers are still investigating is why some people develop more severe illness from COVID while others do not. They have discovered some conditions that put children at higher risk for developing severe illnesses due to COVID. These conditions include:
- Immune system disorders
- Sickle cell disease
- Heart conditions
- Lung diseases such as asthma or cystic fibrosis
- Neuro developmental disorders such as cerebral palsy
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic and complex medical conditions that require home medical interventions such as breathing tubes or feeding tubes.
Is COVID different for children than adults?
Most children who develop COVID will experience a shorter and milder case of illness than adults. Many children who have tested positive have even had no symptoms at all. However, some children have gotten severely ill, and there have been children who have died due to COVID. While rare, some children have developed post-COVID conditions such as long haul COVID or Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) even when COVID infections were asymptomatic or only caused mild illness.
What can you do to help prevent getting COVID?
Currently, the best way to prevent COVID infections and severe illnesses from COVID is to get vaccinated. Vaccines are available and recommended for adults and children ages 5 and up. Clinical trials are still underway for vaccines for children younger than 5.
In addition to getting vaccinated, handwashing, masking, and physical distancing are the best ways to help prevent COVID exposure and infection. If you or your child are ill and experiencing symptoms of COVID, stay home and avoid contact with other people. If possible, test for COVID with an at-home test or contact your health care provider for testing options.
How can you treat COVID in children?
Most treatments for COVID in children are directed at minimizing the symptoms and increasing your child’s comfort. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to treat fever or pain. Saline nasal spray and a cool-mist humidifier can minimize congestion, runny nose, and cough. Make sure your child is getting plenty of fluids and nutritious meals and snacks if they have an appetite. It is recommended to contact your child’s doctor before administering other over-the-counter remedies.
Some children at high risk of severe infection may qualify for monoclonal antibody treatments or oral antiviral medications. If you feel your child may benefit from or be eligible for one of these treatments, talk with their doctor about your options.
Again, most children only experience a mild illness that is easily treated at home with supportive measures, but if your child is experiencing severe symptoms or difficulty breathing, seek emergency medical treatment immediately.
The best clinic for sick and well-visits in Guntersville
Here at Valley Pediatrics, we make sure we understand the medical history as well as the course of the current illness before prescribing any medication or treatment for your children. We strive to ensure children and their parents feel safe, comforted, and heard in our office. We are happy to serve the Guntersville area and are delighted to offer same-day appointments for your child, so they can be on their way to feeling better faster. Contact us today and let the best health care providers in town treat your child because “we aspire to encourage good health and strength in our little patients.”