During a global pandemic, all of this becomes even more difficult — especially when the virus in question is one that doctors and researchers still do not understand well and when the range of possible outcomes is so serious.
This coronavirus has so many possible symptoms, leaving parents wondering: Is my child getting cold? Allergy? Will COVID-19 be so? Especially if you have a child who can not express their pain well enough to support you with a preliminary diagnosis, it’s hard to tell them.
So if you are wondering whether or not your young child has the coronavirus, here are some things to keep in mind.
Children may have signs which are somewhat different from adults.
In general, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the symptoms of COVID-19 in grown-ups and children are quite similar: fever, chills, muscle pain , headache, sore throat, cough , shortness of breath and a new loss of taste or smell. Yet there is also some evidence that children are less likely to experience fever , cough or shortness of breath, the AAP reports.
Children may also be more likely to develop stomach disorders — even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says gastrointestinal symptoms are a common symptom of the disease for people of all ages.
“Children may be more likely to have gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting or poor feeding and decreased appetite,” said Dr Margaret Aldrich, Children’s Hospital ‘s Director of Pediatric Infection Control at Montefiore, New York City. Nonetheless, she cautioned against overstating how different symptoms can be in adults and children, since we still don’t really know at this point.
Another important note: Infants continue to develop inflammatory multi-system syndrome. MISC remains rare but parents should still be aware of it.
If you experience any “extreme tiredness, difficulty breathing, nausea, bluish lips, vomiting , diarrhea and/or fever that lasts longer than three days,” call your pediatrician immediately, Dr. Rob Darzynkiewicz, chief medical officer at telehealth provider Hazel Health said.
So long as the virus remains common, suppose it is COVID-19.
A lot of children, particularly young children, get sick. Otherwise healthy babies and toddlers can get up to 10 colds a year, which means they sniff and cough more often than they do. And indeed, plenty of cold symptoms exactly correlate with COVID-19 symptoms.
“The real problem is that viral diseases in children are very common and often present with fever , cough, nausea, and/or gastrointestinal symptoms,” said Aldrich.
If you live in a high-risk area, with lots of cases of COVID, and your child develops a viral respiratory disease, I would guess they have COVID.Dr. Margaret Aldrich, Montefiore Kinderhospital
It’s a good idea to err on the side of caution for now, Aldrich said.
“If you live in a high-risk area, with lots of cases of COVID, and your child develops a respiratory viral disease, I would believe they have COVID and touch base with your pediatrician to get further advice,” Aldrich suggested. She said she is certainly keeping them away from others.
All this is especially valid if you have a baby at home.
Remind your kid that they’re not liable for being sick. And just take notes.
Darzynkiewicz said little kiddos sometimes get the impression that their fault is being sick, which can make them reluctant to talk about it because they don’t want to get into trouble.
“Often, when children get sick, they can feel disappointment or remorse because they think it means they have done something wrong,” he said. “If you clarify to them that everybody gets sick and there’s no need to be mad or sad, their symptoms might be more forthcoming.”
Also, making good notes about what you think your child is doing will help health care professionals make a diagnosis quickly.
“If parents can help make a list of some of their child’s general symptoms before seeing a doctor, this will help the doctor understand what’s going on,” Darzynkiewicz said. “Aid also to pictures and video.”
Remember: The news is pretty good when it comes to children and to COVID-19.
While the coronavirus may definitely affect children, comparatively few children have been hospitalized or died because of the virus. There is also some growing evidence that the disease is less likely to spread among young children for reasons that are not completely understood.
Which isn’t to say parents shouldn’t keep taking the virus very, very seriously and being vigilant about any signs that they encounter.
But as many kids head to childcare settings and schools this fall and beyond, parents shouldn’t be panicking.
“Forget not to continue checking in with your kids,” Darzynkiewicz said. “Tell them how they feel, and deal with their issues. Boys are resilient.