Q: My son was infected with COVID-19 a few months ago and seems to have a protracted effect. Should I talk to his pediatrician?
A: Millions of US children and teens test positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Fortunately, so far, they are much less likely to get sick than adults.
However, children can develop many other symptoms after COVID-19 infection, even if they have few or no symptoms. Some are minor and may disappear naturally. Others are more serious and may need treatment.
After diagnosing COVID-19, talk to your child’s doctor about prolonged and new symptoms and what to do. Your pediatrician can also help guide your child’s safe return to sports-like activities.
Some symptoms and conditions that may affect the child after COVID-19 should be discussed with a pediatrician.
• Breathing problems: Prolonged respiratory symptoms are not uncommon, as COVID-19 most often affects the lungs. These may include chest pain, coughing, and dyspnea during exercise. Some of these symptoms can last for more than 3 months. Children over the age of 6 with advanced symptoms may need a lung function test. Children who do not resolve the breathing problems caused by exercise may also need a heart test to rule out complications such as blood clots and abnormal heart function.
• Heart problems: Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, can develop after COVID-19 (very rarely, receiving an mRNA vaccine). A study of adult patients who recently recovered from COVID-19 suggested that 60% showed signs of myocarditis on cardiac imaging, regardless of the severity of symptoms during infection. Symptoms of myocarditis include chest pain, shortness of breath, arrhythmia, and malaise. Children and teens who have been infected with COVID-19 within the last 6 months and have these symptoms need a thorough examination, including a heart test, before returning to school or sports activities.
• Smell and taste: One in four children aged 10 to 19 and teens infected with COVID-19 experience changes in smell and taste. This can adversely affect their eating habits and mood. You can also prevent yourself from noticing dangerous odors.
These symptoms usually go away in a few weeks. If not, your child’s doctor may recommend steps to test or retrain these sensations.
• Developmental problems: Active COVID-19 illness affects the brain and can, in rare cases, cause stroke and encephalitis (cerebral edema). Severe inflammation of the brain can cause obvious difficulties in a child’s daily functioning, but children with mild or moderate COVID-19 infection are subtle in attention, speech, schoolwork, movement, and mood. You may experience change. Your pediatrician may refer you for follow-up by a neurodevelopment expert, speech therapist, or physiotherapist or occupational therapist.
• Mental malaise: “brain fog” —unclear or “ambiguous” thinking, poor concentration, or memory problems — is frequently complained among adults infected with COVID-19. Children and teens can have similar symptoms. Your child may seem more forgotten or may have a hard time paying attention. They are slow to read and may need more repetitive breaks during learning. Make sure your child gets enough sleep and help manage the stress that can exacerbate these symptoms. If mental fatigue does not improve after COVID-19 or does not interfere with daily activities, the child may benefit from a team-based assessment and recovery plan.
• Physical fatigue: After SARS-CoV-2 infection, children and teenagers can become tired easily and have reduced physical endurance, even if there are no viral heart or lung symptoms. This usually improves over time. Your pediatrician can advise you on a gradual increase in physical activity. If this does not improve your symptoms, you may be advised to see a physiotherapist or other specialist.
• Headache: Headache is a common symptom during and after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, eating regular meals, and managing stress can help. If the headache persists and is severe, your child’s doctor may recommend preventative medication.
• Mental and Behavioral Health: Infection with COVID-19 can affect a child’s mental health. For children with existing mental / behavioral illnesses, the events surrounding COVID-19 (hospitalization, isolation, absence from school activities) can also exacerbate the symptoms. The pediatrician can check the child for depression, anxiety, and other signs of mental health concerns and advise when the child needs further support.
• Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C): This is a rare complication that usually occurs 2-4 weeks after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Talk to your pediatrician if you have symptoms such as fever for no apparent cause after being infected with COVID-19 or after being exposed to an infected person. Children who develop this condition should be treated in the pediatric / cardiac intensive care unit whenever possible, as MIS-C can quickly worsen.
Long-distance COVID-19 is a general term that covers the physical and mental health symptoms experienced by some patients more than 4 weeks after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Apart from other conditions, it is not possible to identify “Long Distance COVID-19” in a particular lab test. If symptoms persist for more than 3 months, the child’s doctor may recommend additional tests and the possibility of referral to a clinic after specialized interdisciplinary COVID-19.
After diagnosing COVID-19, talk to your pediatrician about your concerns, how to deal with them, and how to help your child safely return to normal activity.
Dr. Sarah Raison is a pediatric neurologist in Houston, Texas and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics. For more information, please visit the AAP Parents website HealthyChildren.org.
Do parents need to worry about the long-term effects of COVID-19 on their children? [Ask the Pediatrician] – Reading Eagle
Source link Do parents need to worry about the long-term effects of COVID-19 on their children? [Ask the Pediatrician] – Reading Eagle