The difficulties in diagnosing Covid-19 in children

Covid-19 symptoms vary greatly as it affects different people in different ways, and this includes children. Autumn is approaching and with it common colds and regular flus which share similar symptoms with Covid-19. So then, how do I know whether my child is infected with Covid-19 or a simple cold?

Is Covid-19 affecting children more lately than it did during the first outbreak in March?

In this second wave there has been an increase in cases among children and young people due to many factors, most notably uncontrolled nightlife and large gatherings. However, an important thing to note is that more diagnostic tests are being conducted now than earlier in the year, which hinders an accurate comparison.

What are the symptoms of Covid-19 in children?

Although the vast majority of young people and children are usually asymptomatic, they sometimes display:

  • Head and muscle aches
  • High fever
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea (more common in children)
  • Widespread tiredness
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Chills
  • Skin alterations
  • Anosmia (loss of smell) and Ageusia (loss of taste) in adults

It is important to note that some children also experience Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C), which is caused by inflammation a few weeks after infection. While serious, this condition is fortunately very rare.

How can parents differentiate Covid-19 from a simple cold or flu?

Adequate measures should be taken to avoid close contact in classrooms and nurseries. But despite the best efforts, the return to school can obviously generate an increase in viral spread.

It is recommended that you contact your doctor if your child shows any symptoms, such as high fever, mucus, cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat or abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash, dizziness or tiredness.

It is important to find out if your child has been in contact with people who have tested positive for Covid-19, and it should be the doctor who decides if the child needs to be tested.

Giving your child the flu shot is more important this year than ever before.

The flu vaccine is essential for protecting anyone from the flu. If we vaccinate our children against the flu, we will be ruling out this pathology should any flu-like symptoms appear.

Another advantage of the vaccine is its ability to stimulate the immune system and alert our body’s defences to any type of infection.

The use of a mask is also critical. Countries with widespread mask use during flu season have demonstrated a lower flu incidence than usual.

What tools do I have as a parent to prevent my child from contracting the coronavirus?  

Hygiene will be our best ally for our children to remain healthy and not become infected.

The most important measures, which should be done methodically, are:

  • Continuous hand washing throughout the day to prevent the transmission of the virus to the mouth and nose.
  • Sanitise the environment. That means cleaning your home diligently so that the virus cannot survive there.
  • Avoid sharing toys, cutlery, plates, glasses and, in general, any object with any friend or relative.
  • Use common sense. If the child presents any of the previously mentioned symptoms, it is preferable that they rest at home and do not go to school. This would be a precautionary measure, in order to avoid the virus from spreading should the child have it.
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