COVID-19 Effect on Kids: Can They Get "Long Covid"?

COVID-19 Effect on Kids: Can They Get "Long Covid"?

A lot of research and thorough studies have been conducted on COVID-19 and its effects on adults, particularly how it breaks down the immune system, inflames the lungs and hijacks cells. However, little is known about how the virus affects kids. This is owing to the low rate of children getting infected, with experts believing that kids have been somewhat immune to initial strains, presenting only mild flu-like symptoms — until recently. 

Since schools began reopening and children are leaving their homes more, exposure to the virus has risen significantly. In the last couple of weeks beginning late July, cases of COVID-19 among children and adolescents have exponentially increased. Naturally, this led to more research on COVID-19’s effects on children. 

One of the trends seen in adults is what was coined as “long COVID,” which refers to COVID-19 symptoms that persist or recur more than a month after infection. This is characterized by lingering symptoms, such as cognitive dysfunction, shortness of breath, and fatigue. In response to the increased rate of COVID-19 among children, people are asking if they too can get “long COVID”.

“Long COVID” in Children

A U.K. study revealed that children may show lingering and persistent symptoms even months after a COVID-19 infection. However, it also concluded that kids are less likely to be affected by “long COVID” compared to adults. From its assessment, only 4% of children and teens in the U.K. showed prevailing or recurring symptoms, the most common being:

  • Loss of smell
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing
  • Chest pain 
  • Brain fog

“Long COVID” among children also has a faster relief time, with symptoms usually gone in less than two months. This is compared to its effect on 30% of adults, which can last up to 3 months following the onset of COVID-19 infections.

Prevention Over Cure

With the higher rate of children getting infected with the more dangerous and transmissible delta variant, infected kids are at risk of developing “long COVID.” Although its effects are mild compared to adult symptoms, it’s well worth taking precautionary measures. 

Children recovering from COVID-19 should attend follow-up medical appointments with their pediatricians. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least one follow-up visit to monitor residual and recurring symptoms. 

More importantly, this article serves as a gentle reminder for parents to take proactive efforts to keep their children safe from COVID, especially as they resume in-person classes. Among the health and safety measures recommended include: 

  • Mask-wearing 
  • Hand-washing, sanitizing 
  • Social distancing
  • Vaccination for eligible children

Talking to children about COVID-19 can also help them understand the virus and the importance of complying with health and safety protocols.

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