Children get the long-term COVID virus too, and it can manifest in unexpected ways

Children get the long-term COVID virus too, and it can manifest in unexpected ways

“when I wake up [November 10] Feeling worse, the Michigan mother said, “You know what, let’s test you before you go in, because I don’t want you to get the Covid vaccine if you already have Covid.”

Jack tested positive for Covid-19 that day and has lived with symptoms ever since.

It prevented him from staying in school all day. He has to limit the amount of baseball he plays with other neighborhood kids. Even playing Fortnite for so long can leave him feeling sick the next day.

He is one of the millions of children likely to be infected with the long-term Covid virus.

Jack Ford said, “My stomach hurts. It’s kind of hard to breathe. You have a stuffy nose. It’s just a ridiculous amount of things you can feel.” “It’s really annoying sometimes. It’s not like a cold, you know, it feels like Covid.

He added, “People may think you feel cheated, but you don’t fake it. You feel like you have Covid.”

Undiagnosed problem

Some experts say it is not clear how many children develop Covid for a long time, because there is not enough research on it in this age group.
Long Covid-19 may remain a chronic condition for millions
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 13 million children have tested positive for Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Studies show that between 2% and 10% of these children will have Covid for a long time, but the number could be higher. Many parents may not know that their child has been infected with Covid for a long time, or that the pediatrician did not recognize it as such.
In adults, some research suggests the number is close to 30% of cases.
“Personally, I think this is a largely undiagnosed problem,” said Dr. Sarah Kristen Sixson-Tegel, who helps lead the Long Children’s Covid Clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

Many doctors who treat children in long Covid clinics across the country say they are waiting too long for appointments. Some of them are booked during the month of September.

An unusual set of symptoms

There are no specific tests for the long Covid virus. It’s not clear which children will get it, because it can happen even when a child has a mild case of Covid-19.

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“It’s amazing how many of these kids are out there and they have a range of symptoms which we did not fully appreciate. Some develop heart failure after asymptomatic Covid infection, said Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “What is surprising is that it usually happens about four weeks after infection. And the infection can be really asymptomatic, which is really amazing.”

Even when children with prolonged Covid-19 are tested for diseases that may cause these symptoms, it is likely that nothing will turn up.

“She tested me,” said Jack Ford, “and it seemed like there was nothing wrong with me, but they did their best to find something.”

Pulmonary function tests and EKG returned to normal. “The Covid clinic said this is very common in children who have had Covid for a long time. Sometimes all the tests go back to normal,” Kim Ford said.

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Dr. Amy Edwards, who directs the long-running children’s COVID clinic at UH Rainbow Hospital for Children and Children in Cleveland, agreed that this happens a lot.

“We’ve also checked them, and their digestive tracts are normal,” Edwards said. “I’m doing a huge immune job, and their immune system seems normal. Everything looks normal, but the kids aren’t working normally.” “I say to families, ‘You have to remember, there are limits to what medical science understands and can be tested.’ Sometimes we just aren’t smart enough to know where to look.”

Edwards said that adults’ problems tend to be more noticeable, because they are more likely to They have organ abnormalities that show up on tests.

Doctors are still trying to understand why Covid is so prolonged in children. They are also detecting the symptoms that define prolonged Covid in children. Some studies in adults show a range of 200 presentations, but there is no comprehensive definition of the clinical condition.
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At the Sexson Tejte Clinic in Texas, children tend to be sorted into a few categories. Some have fatigue, brain fog, and severe headaches, “to the point where some kids can’t go to school, grades fail, these kinds of problems,” she said.

Another group had heart problems such as heart palpitations, chest pain and dizziness, especially when they returned to their usual activities.

Another group had stomach problems. Many of these children also have an altered sense of taste and smell.

It’s not entirely different from the symptoms adults experience, Sexson Tejte said, “but it’s not the mixed bag of sharing different devices with adults.”

“Once that bucket empties, that’s it.”

One of Jack Ford’s symptoms affects the amount of energy he has for usual activities.

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“Long Covid patients experience post-exercise malaise, which is Jack’s biggest problem,” said Kim Ford. “So if he overdoes it — and doesn’t even have to overdo it physically. He could be really upset about something the day before, or he could be really mentally involved in something like watching TV or playing video games sitting in his chair — he’s going to kick him out.” .

Energy has become such a problem that Jack cannot go to school for an entire day. His parents started him taking it 1 to 2 hours a day and gradually increased it to about 5 and a half hours a day.

“We’ve been trying to push it to six people, but it hasn’t worked so far,” Kim Ford said. “He woke up very miserable the next day.”

Edwards, who runs the Long Covid Clinic in Cleveland, says she should talk to parents about carefully balancing the amount of energy their children expend. Most healthy people can move on if they are tired, but those with prolonged Covid illness cannot. “It’s like they only have one bucket of energy, and it needs to be used carefully in school, playing, watching TV,” Edwards said. “Everything they do needs energy, and once that bucket is empty, that’s it.”

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Some of her teenage patients feel overwhelmed by just dealing with typical school drama.

“Long-distance transporters have to think about every aspect of their day and when they can expend that energy. They have to have that balance. Otherwise, they’re running out.”

Many also suffer from anxiety. Some of that may stem from the disease itself or from the suspicion they’ve heard from doctors or adults when they say they don’t feel comfortable.

Experts across the country say they have heard from patients whose complaints have been ignored, even after a stark change in their health. They have been told that they are acting out in a dramatic fashion or seeking attention, or that the symptoms are all in their head.

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“I don’t want to be too critical, but there are some doctors out there who are totally dismissive of it,” said Dr. Alexandra Yonets, director of the Post-Covid Clinic at Children’s National in Washington. “The children then struggle. They are passed from one place to another.”

Yonts believes there should be better recognition among doctors that prolonged Covid could be a real problem.

Edward said: “I have two children in a wheelchair after I contracted Covid who have never been in a wheelchair before. There is a child on crutches. I have a baby girl who has lost the use of her hands.” “These children must be believed.”

Help is available, but not all are accessible

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19, but most of these clinics are multidisciplinary.

At the Edwards Clinic, which opened last year, experts can treat lung problems, digestive issues, physical rehabilitation, sleep problems, mental health issues and more. There is a dietitian among the staff, as well as an acupuncturist and a licensed pediatrician in Chinese herbal medicine.

In addition to making a schedule for children so they can decide where to spend their energy and when to take breaks, Edwards Clinic teaches children meditation. They do massage therapy and mind and body exercises.

“Kids need multiple items of help,” Edwards said. “They get significantly better, and they really do, if we are aggressive and get comprehensive support and extensive treatment.”

But not all children are able to go to the clinic.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of people who work in children’s recovery from Covid, and they’re all saying the same thing: ‘We’re concerned about kids who aren’t getting help, who don’t have parents who can advocate for them or navigate the medical system,'” Edwards said. This keeps me up at night.”

A lot of what her clinic does is encourage kids to get enough sleep and eat healthy food, but not all families can afford healthy food.

“It terrifies me especially for those families, because they’ve really started in the back. And now they have kids with long-distance Covid,” Edwards said. “You just have to hope that more people realize the problem and try to help.”

2022-05-06 20:42:00

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