While COVID-19 vaccines for kids are still largely in development mode, the onus of treating kids with COVID remains on early diagnosis. Despite experts mooting a possible third wave being deadlier for children, doctors continue to assert that kids, much like us adults, need an early diagnosis and timely help to not just fight COVID, but also minimize the risk of dreaded complications, including MIS-C. Hence, parents should not only continue to protect kids from risky exposure, they should also be on the lookout for any suspected symptoms, from the early days. Based on clinical evaluations, here are some of the most common and first symptoms showcased by kids suffering from COVID-19 :
Sore throat and cough
While kids are more prone to suffering from routine allergies and respiratory infections, a nagging cough, changed voice and sore throat could be signs of upper respiratory tract inflammation caused by COVID-19. Encourage them to gargle, take steam and use antitussive syrups, after seeking advice from a doctor. Some kids can also experience a runny nose, itchiness, congestion, or suffer from an altered sense of smell.
Tiredness and muscle pain
Muscle pain, body ache and headaches are some of the most commonly reported symptoms during the second wave of coronavirus. Doctors also suggest that the inflammation caused by the virus could also cause similar symptoms in younger children. Apart from the pain, kids can also experience a drop in energy levels, be lethargic, drowsy or battle fatigue, if there is a suspected COVID-19 exposure. In babies and infants, tiredness and pain could also be presented through fussiness, unusual behavioural issues.
Fever and chills
Kids can record a fever that could be as high as 102 degrees Fahrenheit when they do catch COVID-19. While a moderately high temperature is also common to other routine viral illnesses in circulation, a COVID fever can be accompanied by chills, pain, and weakness. Now, in most cases, the fever breaks after 2-3 days (for kids). However, if the symptom persists for over 5 days, seek specialized care as it can be a possible sign of MIS-C, which is a serious COVID complication.
Diarrhoea and stomach pain
As is becoming evident, acute gastrointestinal infection symptoms could also be linked to a suspected COVID battle. For kids, some common lingering symptoms could be nausea, loose motions, abdominal cramps, ulcers in the oral cavity. Children can also lose their appetite, feel weak, have an upset stomach, or showcase an inability to swallow or eat food.
Skin rashes, red eyes
Skin symptoms pertaining to COVID-19 have been long talked about. While kids may not develop serious infections, or have fewer symptoms in comparison to adults, they can often showcase signs of surface-level inflammation during the early days, or even presymptomatic days. These can be seen in the form of blisters, redness, hives, rashes, itchy skin, redness and itchiness in the eyes, swelling. A bluish tint on the lips or discolouration of the skin could demand more acute attention.
What should you do if you have a child with COVID-19 at home?
Taking care of a child suffering from coronavirus can be difficult. While it isn’t possible to isolate the child completely (more so if they are young), quarantine and distancing should be encouraged. Vaccinated adults may also have a lower risk of infection if the child gets infected.
Newer guidelines have also suggested against indiscriminate use of steroids, drugs repurposed for COVID treatment to not be used on kids. Since most kids tend to recover in less than a week, and have less intense symptoms, taking diligent care and precautions, as with most COVID cases, would suit them well as well.
However, doctors do warn parents to be alert about signs of worry in the weeks following COVID-19 recovery. Some kids could suffer from post-COVID complications such as MIS-C, which is caused by widespread inflammation and may require hospitalization.