With reports of newer strains of COVID-19, it is becoming abundantly clear that children and young adults are at risk. However, the symptom profile for the affected in this age group from 1 to 21 years of age is slightly different from that seen in the adults and the elderly.
Symptoms of COVID-19 in children and young adults
Most common symptoms in children and young adults (age 1 to 21 years) are fever and cough. Fever with chills and dry cough are seen in both children and adults suffering from COVID-19 infection. Other symptoms in children include the following:
- Runny nose and nasal congestion
- Pain in the abdomen
- Loose stools
- Skin rashes
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Body aches
- Loss of smell
Symptoms of COVID-19 usually last 5-10 days in the younger age group. About 1/3rd of all children who test positive for COVID-19 remain asymptomatic.
Post COVID-19 Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)
MIS-C was reported in late 2020. It was seen in children who were healthy and had recovered from mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 infections. It manifested a couple of weeks after recovery. Symptoms such as fever, extreme tiredness, diarrhoea, redness of eyes, vomiting, neck pain, enlarged neck nodes, breathing difficulty and rashes were also seen in this syndrome. However, when the children were tested, the RT-PCR report for the virus was negative whereas antibodies against the virus were present, indicating an older episode of viral infection.
Similar syndrome has been identified in adults too (MIS-A), a couple of weeks after recovery from COVID-19.
Treatment in children
Treatment of symptoms remains the approach in treating children with symptomatic COVID-19 infection. Antiviral drugs are not approved for use in children. Use of corticosteroids and remdesivir is suggested only for hospitalised children with critical illness.
Vaccination & Prevention of COVID-19
None of the vaccines are currently approved for use in children, although trials are underway.
Use of masks, frequent hand hygiene by washing with soap & water or alcohol based sanitisers and maintaining physical distance of ~ 6 feet is necessary to prevent infection from COVID-19 virus.