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COVID kid long haulers: Specialized treatment needed

COVID in kids.
COVID in kids.(Ivanhoe Newswire)
Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 6:21 AM CDT
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HACKENSACK, N.J. (IVANHOE NEWSWIRE) - Experts say it’s hard to pinpoint an exact number, but recent research shows that anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of all kids who contract COVID-19 experience symptoms that last six months or longer. Learn what researchers are discovering about COVID kid long haulers and the effort to return them to good health.

COVID in kids. In the beginning, the infection looked a whole lot different in children than in adults.

Dr. Katharine Clouser of Hackensack University Medical Center explains, “We were seeing a lot more of the gastrointestinal side effects. They were having a lot of diarrhea, a lot of vomiting, a lot of abdominal pain.”

But with the rise of COVID variants, experts say those under 18 now have symptoms similar to adults: fever, cough, headaches, difficulty breathing, and extreme fatigue. And up to one in three kids may be having trouble getting back to normal.

“What we’re mainly seeing is kids who used to be really good in school, who are now struggling in school, kids who have trouble sleeping, who can’t stay awake, or that athlete, who’s really having a hard time kind of returning to their level of activity, post the infection,” Dr. Clouser further explains.

Dr. Clouser is among the pediatric specialists who are part of the Hackensack Meridian Children’s Pediatric COVID Recovery Center. Pediatric pulmonologists, cardiologists, neurologists, rehab specialists, and others work together to treat a wide range of symptoms.

“We’re doing things to help them to regain their stamina. So, if they’ve got headaches, we may need to put them on migraine medication. If they’re having a hard time getting back to their level of activity because they’re having a difficult time breathing, we’ll do lung tests, lung function tests, and they may need to go on an inhaler for a period of time,” Dr. Clouser says of their research.

The Pediatric COVID Recovery Center also makes counselors and Child Life Services available to patients and families. Experts say they need to address the stressors that come along with recovering from a long illness. As of August, about four dozen U.S. hospital systems had opened specialized COVID recovery centers for adult patients. Only about half a dozen pediatric centers exist, including the one at Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health in New Jersey.

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