The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a large population of people who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, but are no longer contagious. Full recovery within 4 weeks time is the most common scenario. Some will have ongoing symptoms for 4 to 12 weeks, but it has been clearly established that a subset will have continuing or new issues well after 3 months have elapsed. This condition is called Long Covid, chronic Covid or post-Covid syndrome.
The symptoms that are most likely to persist include fatigue, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, and cough. Those recovering from Covid may also experience anxiety, depression and deteriorating memory and concentration skills. Less common complaints are: ringing of the ears, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, headache, abdominal pain, joint and muscle aches, and skin rashes. The majority of data on Long Covid has been collected on adults, but we know it is not uncommon in the pediatric population. The incidence of lingering or new symptoms after Covid is thought to be about 50% in older adults, 25% in younger adults, and 10% in children. Early data suggested a longer recovery period for those with more severe disease, but subsequent research revealed even those with mild acute disease can suffer from prolonged symptoms.
Children with issues lasting beyond 4 weeks should have a thorough evaluation with a pediatrician, including assessment of initial and late course of disease, and a full physical examination. Thereafter, the doctor will be able to give guidance on the necessity of further testing. There are specific therapies for dealing with fatigue, breathlessness, anxiety and so on, with which the physician can help you. If your child has new or worsening chest pain or difficulty breathing, he or she should be seen by a doctor urgently.
It behooves parents to be aware of Long Covid syndrome, so as to be patient with and better care for their children with persistent complaints. Knowing when to seek medical attention is also of great import.