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Understanding the Long-Term Effects of COVID-19 on Children

by: Post-COVID Support Team

April 5, 2023

Every area of our life, including the health and happiness of children, has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although children are less likely to experience severe COVID-19 symptoms, there is rising worry about the virus’s possible long-term implications on their physical, mental and emotional well-being.

It is critical to comprehend the long-term implications of COVID-19 on children, especially how it may affect their development and overall quality of life, as the pandemic continues to change and new forms appear.

To create strategies that will effectively support children’s health and well-being in the future, it is imperative to have this information.

Long COVID, what is it?

Also called post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection or PASC, Long COVID is a condition in which people continue to have symptoms for a long time after their initial COVID-19 infection, usually weeks or months, despite testing negative for the virus. While the exact cause of Long COVID remains unclear, research suggests that various factors contribute to its development.

What Causes Long COVID-19?

A number of COVID-19 patients have experienced prolonged symptoms. PASC has relatively little information as to what causes this debilitating experience.

According to science and medical journals, there are estimated 200 symptoms associated with COVID-19 and that there is no proven effective treatment for Long COVID.

Even if there are no proven theories, researchers and health experts continue to present several theories that are held responsible for the prolonged symptoms of Post-COVID. One may be due to organs failure as a result of the body’s immune system defense against the SARS-CoV-2 infection. Other causes may be due to extreme immune response or remaining virus in the system.

We can sum up the common causes of Long COVID-19 with the following:

  • Persistent viral infection
  • Organ damage
  • Autoimmunity
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Psychological factors

Recent research have indicated that children who contracted COVID-19 can have chronic symptoms even if they were asymptomatic or only experienced minor symptoms during the acute stage of the illness. There is currently no connection between COVID-19 and children’s long-term symptomatic disorders, and the underlying mechanisms causing these long-term symptoms are not yet fully understood.

Concerns have been expressed regarding the long-term implications and consequences for the well-being and health of children as a result of this. Further investigation is required to close this knowledge gap in order to uncover the risk factors linked to these illnesses and practical methods for preventing and managing chronic symptoms in children with a history of COVID-19.

It’s essential to know how COVID-19 will affect young people in the long run if we want to give them the finest treatment and assistance possible both during and after the pandemic.

Long COVID symptoms in children

According to a National Institutes for Health (NIH) study, children’s long COVID symptoms are different from adults’. Children don’t seem to be particularly susceptible to COVID-19’s long-term effects, although those who do may show distinct symptoms from adults.

Children with Long COVID might experience a variety of symptoms, including exhaustion, headaches, trouble sleeping, soreness in the muscles and joints, coughing, chest pain, trouble breathing and cognitive fog. These symptoms can impede a child’s quality of life, including their capacity to attend school, take part in extracurricular activities and interact with friends and family, for weeks or months following the initial COVID-19 infection.

It is crucial to emphasize that long-term COVID is still a relatively new phenomena, and little is known about how it will affect children. Research is still being conducted to better understand the causes of extended COVID in children and create efficient remedies to cure its symptoms.

Why do some kids get Long COVID?

Researchers based their assumption that some of the young COVID patients, ages 5 years and younger get Long COVID because of underlying medical conditions. As for the common symptoms, these children are not exempted to feel a change in smell, chest pain, tiredness, chills but uncommon to experience neurological symptoms like brain fog or headache.

Children who were susceptible to experienced lingering symptoms 6 months at the most after COVID infection. Also, children who have trouble sleeping, chest pain, cough, heart palpitations, muscle or joint pains and depression or anxiety are likely the ones who fall into category of having Long COVID.

Symptoms of Long COVID might appear similar with other conditions. Sometimes, the symptoms overlap, leading us to conclude that when children have these conditions they are prone to Long COVID.

    1. Myalgic encephalomyelitis

Myalgic encephalomyelitis, also referred to as “chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS),” may resemble long-term COVID-19. The symptoms of CFS include:

      • Lightheadedness
      • Brain fog
      • Fatigue
      • Post-exertional malaise (PEM)
    1. Intolerance to orthostasis

Children who are long-haulers might have this condition. Reduced blood flow in the brain is the cause of fainting, dizziness and other symptoms of weakness. Children are known to be quite active, thus they may experience fatigue and become lethargic as a result of this preexisting disease.

How common is Long COVID in children?

According to a US study, children had a lower likelihood of developing Long COVID than adults do. Following a SARS-CoV-2 infection, Long COVID may cause symptoms to continue for months.

While some of the post-COVID-19 symptoms reported by children are similar to those seen in adults, the study, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that children may also have unique symptoms such as diarrhoea, hair loss and skin rashes.

However, the risk for PASC appears to be higher in children below 5 years old, those admitted to intensive care unit and had medical complications.

What can you do to protect your child?

Because of the intricate underlying causes that are unique to each person, health professionals, researchers and doctors frequently find Long-COVID symptoms to be highly puzzling. Long-term solutions for paediatric long-haulers might be impossible. Even scans and blood tests are insufficient to provide the answers doctors need.

However, because COVID-19 can also infect children, there are a wide range of long-term COVID symptoms. Therefore, it does not have a singular cause or cure. Your doctor, however, can do tests and suggest specialists to your child.

A light at the end of the tunnel says that most children affected wih Long COVID heal faster than most adults.

Overall, while Long COVID in children may be less common than in adults, it can still occur and cause significant impacts on the child’s health and well-being. Further research is needed to fully understand the prevalence and risk factors for long COVID in children.

It is advised that you contact your paediatrician right away if you have any worries about the chance that your child will experience any of these side effects. In many hospitals around the United States, post-COVID care clinics have been set up to handle the treatment of Long-COVID symptoms. If necessary, your doctor can help you find a clinic that is appropriate for your child.

Where can you go to learn more about Post-COVID? Join our community and discover the ways to combat the sufferings of a long-hauler. Contact us today.