Does “long Covid” impact children and adolescents, and if so, how? As leading medical insurance providers in SA, Affinity Health considers this phenomenon among under 18s.
COVID-19 Symptoms can Last Longer than Expected
Children appear to be less at risk of developing severe symptoms of Covid-19. However, there is emerging evidence that some children are experiencing ongoing symptoms after their initial illness. This tendency has led to a term coined by NCBI as “long Covid.”
Long Covid refers to symptoms that persist for more than 12 weeks, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). However, some people consider symptoms that last longer than eight weeks to be long Covid.
“It’s not yet clear how many children worldwide have been affected and are still experiencing long-haul Covid-19 symptoms, largely because most research is based on adults. However, ONS estimates that around 13%-15% of children with Covid-19 have symptoms that last for more than five weeks,” says Murray Hewlett, Affinity Health’s CEO.
The reason why some children, as well as some adults, continue to have Covid-19 symptoms is unknown. Long-term Covid symptoms may be caused by the active virus remaining in the system. Reinfection with the same or a new SARS-CoV-2 variant, immune system issues, or pre-existing conditions can occur. According to some researchers, chronic fatigue syndrome may persist.
“While research is ongoing to help better understand long Covid, there is still a lot of speculation, and we don’t have all the answers yet,” adds Hewlett. “Parents need to watch their children closely for any signs – no matter how subtle. They could indicate lingering COVID symptoms, particularly if they had significant exposure to someone who had the virus.”
Symptoms of post-Covid conditions were first thought to include tiredness or fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headache, and respiratory problems. Now, evidence from CDC suggests there may be up to 100 other symptoms. Some of these symptoms include gastrointestinal issues, nausea, dizziness, seizures, skin complications, depression or anxiety, hallucinations, and other symptoms.
Meanwhile, the onus to provide appropriate care and help manage ongoing symptoms of Covid-19 remains on trained healthcare practitioners.
Affinity Health encourages all parents whose children may be experiencing ongoing symptoms to call their doctor or local health department and continue to slow the spread of Covid-19 by sticking to local guidelines: handwashing, face mask-wearing, self-isolating, and social distancing.