Although children who contract SARS-CoV-2 are generally not affected by severe COVID-19, evidence is accumulating that some can experience long-lasting effects similar to what has been dubbed Long COVID in adults. Health centers around the world are creating facilities to monitor and address the problem, including among children. At first, Long Covid was underestimated, mistaken for hypochondria or post-illness stress. Instead it is a real health problem, which requires specific treatments. Let's see what we know.
In this article
- Long Covid: what is it
- When to go to the doctor
Read also: Children immune to Covid? They are just more resilient
Long Covid: what is it
What is called Long Covid, i.e. long-term symptoms, also affects the age group pediatric, ie up to 14 years and the remaining young people up to 18 years. The first study that presents evidence of Long Covid was conducted in Del Paese by the Gemelli Polyclinic of the city between March and November 2022 and the results are not positive at all. In fact, as many as 52,7% showed at least one symptom 120 days or more after diagnosis. "To our knowledge, this is the first study to provide evidence of Long Covid in children. More than half reported at least one persistent symptom even 120 days after Covid-19, with 42,6% weakened by these symptoms during activities. Symptoms such as fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headache, insomnia, respiratory problems and palpitations were particularly frequent, as also described in adults, "the researchers write. The study refers to 1733 Wuhan patients who were found to have persistent symptoms in 76% of patients 6 months after the initial diagnosis.
Even if they get sick less, Covid will affect children it can have implications of a certain severity both for the disease itself but, above all, for the aftermath that the infection can leave many months after recovery.
The symptoms of post-Covid syndrome are very varied:
- weakness that does not allow to make efforts
- pain in the joints and muscles
- some fever line
- feeling of general malaise.
Generally - but it is not a fixed rule - the picture tends to present itself and persist over time, especially when the symptoms of the infection have been more serious. But be careful: it is also important to understand whether it is "Long-Covid" or post-Covid. And explaining what happens is not easy. According to the expert, the list of problems related to post-Covid it's really very long.
- widespread pains
- cognitive impairment
When to go to the doctor
For those called to cure the disease in hospital, the ideal would be to start this path already during hospitalization. For all the others, who are the majority of veterans from Covid-19, if after two months you still feel some of the symptoms of the disease, you should consult your own general practitioner, for an cardiologist or physiatrist. Through some specific exams, from spirometry al 6-minute walk test, it is possible to immediately have some important information on the need and type of rehabilitation to be carried out. We need to pay close attention to these patients. Given the numbers of the pandemic, the risk is to have a long line of chronically ill patients in the coming years.
"The symptoms were reported by parents in telephone interviews - explains the first author Danilo Buonsenso, infectious disease specialist of the Gemini Pediatric Department - and in the examined sample it seems they occur in a higher percentage than adults". The data on the subject, however, are still few and "will be further investigated by the team with larger studies already underway".
Article sources: Ansa, medrxiv.org, Policlinico Gemelli di della città, Fondazione Veronesi
- health and children
- Children's health studies