Long-COVID in children: symptoms and signs

The corona virus not only has an acute impact on the health of those affected. The long-term consequences of COVID-19 also cause major problems for many patients after the illness. Although a corona infection in children usually goes unnoticed, they can also be affected by long-COVID.

A corona infection is only rarely noticeable in children and adolescents, but problems can arise as a result of the disease. In rare cases, children also suffer from a special form of long-COVID.

Corona long-term consequences in children: symptoms and signs

Already after the first corona wave, the long-term effects of COVID-19 were mostly seen in adults. But long-COVID was also detected in children at this point. Other studies also pointed to the harmful long-term effects.

The symptoms that can occur in children after a corona infection are known as  multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS)  . The signs are:

  • chest pain
  • inflammation
  • Myocarditis  (inflammation of the heart sac)
  • fever flares
  • drop in blood pressure
  • Persistent tiredness and exhaustion (Fatigue Syndrome, ME/CFS)
  • depressions
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • skin rashes
  • conjunctivitis
  • sleep disorders
  • sensory problems

The children suffer particularly often (90 percent) from  fever , gastrointestinal problems, skin rashes and conjunctivitis.

Other symptoms included a drop in blood pressure (60 percent) and sudden shock (40 percent), and heart problems were also found in a third of the patients.

The symptoms were particularly evident in children over the age of four. The age group of 6 to 11 year olds was particularly affected, and Long-COVID also made itself felt among 12 to 18 year olds. However, younger children can also suffer from the long-term effects.

Children and adolescents with a history of allergies could also be at higher risk of developing long-COVID.

Immune Response Possibly Responsible for Long-COVID in Children

Since the inflammation usually occurred in waves and usually became noticeable a month after the corona infection, researchers assume that the immune system is responding.

Research on this topic continues. Since MIS was diagnosed for some of the cases examined without laboratory evidence of a COVID infection and contact with an infected person was sufficient, this assumption has not yet been fully proven. However, further data relate to children who were hospitalized as a result of a proven COVID infection and then showed symptoms of long-COVID.

Because a corona infection can also often trigger the symptoms described, some scientists also assume a protracted corona infection and its symptoms.

This is one of the reasons why pediatric societies advise treating the symptoms as part of the infection and not separately.

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