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The Dallas Examiner


COVID-19 has brought a surge in health complications and an increased case of illnesses with no clear-cut answers for adults and children. Long COVID is one of the several complications that have risen as a result.

“It’s a term that was coined by patients who observed that they have persistent symptoms following relatively mild COVID infections. And there are some challenges in kind of determining what is and what isn’t long COVID,” Dr. Oli Jeffers, a pediatrician disclosed.

Defined as signs and symptoms that continue or develop after initial COVID-19, long COVID is consistent with COVID-19, which continues for more than 12 weeks. It includes both ongoing symptomatic COVID-19 for 4 to 12 weeks and post-COVID-19 syndrome for 12 weeks or more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 1 in 5 have been affected by long COVID, however, little is known about how often or severely children are affected. Even individuals with mild symptoms have developed long COVID. However, researchers have found that long COVID is less common in those under 21 years old but there are several risk factors for youth that develop long COVID, according to the CDC.

Discussing the challenges of diagnosing and treating long COVID in youth and adults, Jeffers broke down the numbers and situation in a recent webinar, “Long COVID in schools and colleges.” The event was hosted by The Children’s Hospital, Oxford in conjunction with the Medical Needs in Schools Project.

Symptoms can start during an infection or start after an interval and the interval isn’t that clearly defined. Sometimes it’s difficult to know whether the infection that preceded symptoms was COVID,” Jeffers said. “There are loads of potential symptoms. So, it can be difficult to know what to attribute to COVID or not. And now most people have had COVID and most people more than once. So, it can be really tricky to know whether something is or isn’t long COVID.”

Long COVID does not affect everyone the same. Over 200 symptoms have been reported and can affect any organ system. For some, it can be very debilitating. Headache, depression, fatigue and chest pain are some of the many symptoms that have been described by people who have experienced long COVID.

People with long COVID may develop or continue to have symptoms that are hard to explain and manage, which could affect the person’s quality of life.

“People with these unexplained symptoms may be misunderstood by their health care providers, which can result in a long time for them to get a diagnosis and receive appropriate care or treatment,” according to the CDC.

There is no specific treatment or medicine for long COVID. Jeffers suggested patients must be managed based on clusters of symptoms, including fatigue, sleep disorders, respiratory problems, etc.

“In terms of management, we sort of describe it as identifying treatable traits. So, there’s no kind of specific treatment or medicine currently for long COVID, that’s sort of sorted out. But there are certain traits or symptoms that we do know how to manage. For example, fatigue, sleep, chronic pain, and the mainstay of management of many of these is rehabilitation.”

Some youth may experience more devastating symptoms, such as a neurological disorder, lightheadedness when standing, heart palpitations, joint or muscle pain, depression or anxiety, according to a study published by Journal of the American Medical Association.

Additionally, the study indicated that long COVID could exacerbate the health disparities that exist in underserved communities.

Gemma North, a physiotherapist at The Children’s Hospital, Oxford urged the support of schools, parents and society alike to be more attentive in the face of long COVID.

Some of the ideas shared were for schools to consider adjustments for exams or assignments, such as extended deadlines or additional support to aid the mental health of students who might have suffered lingering health effects because of COVID.

“Our clinic sees a lot of children who have fatigue and different types of pain and brain fog as kind of predominant symptoms. So one I particularly think is helpful from a rehab and from a school perspective is that there is not a one size fits all approach to supporting children and young people in the classroom,” North said.


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