We are all becoming aware of the rapid spread of this new strain. It is becoming very difficult to get tested/get rapid results / obtain rapid antigen testing kits / or get medical attention
To address this and many other concerns I hope to answer some of your questions and give current advice. Please remember that this is a very rapidly evolving situation and advice may change over the coming days or weeks.
What are typical symptoms of Pediatric Covid?
Children may be asymptomatic. Many will develop symptoms typical of colds and other upper respiratory infections such as cough, sore throat, hoarse voice, and runny nose. There may be a fever lasting several days. There may be gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramping, vomiting or feeding difficulties. Uncommonly there can be unusual rashes, particularly on the toes. Symptoms are usually mild with fever lasting several days being most worrisome for parents. Most children can be safely treated at home. Some children require medical attention or hospitalization. Symptoms that require urgent attention include respiratory distress, dehydration , lethargy or severe gastrointestinal symptoms.
How can you help your child feel better?
Most children can be treated with fever control via Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tempra, Paracetamol) or Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) given at doses according to their weights. Because your child may not be eating or drinking as much as usual close attention to ensuring that your child has adequate hydration by taking small frequent sips of fluids if not eating or drinking well. Babies may feed better and breath better by clearing their nasal passageways with saline nose drops and gentle nasal suction. Currently, there is no antiviral, antibiotic or naturopathic medicine that is recommended for Pediatric Covid unless there are complications. Fever control and hydration are the mainstays of treatment in the vast majority of cases.
What are the signs and symptoms to monitor for?
Fever may last several days and can be high at times. It is expected that the fever will recur off and on. If your baby is under three months of age with a high fever your baby should be evaluated immediately.
You should monitor for signs of increasing respiratory distress. Breathing rate may seem quick due to the fever but should not appear laboured with retractions between the ribs or the chest going deeply in and out. Your child’s colour should appear pink and you should not see a blue hue to the lips or tongue. Your child should not show signs of extreme irritability after fever control and hydration.
You should monitor your child’s hydration status. Signs of dehydration occur with poor fluid intake and may consist of extreme irritability not helped with fever control and hydration, sunken appearing eyes with dry lips and reduced urine output. Clearing your babies nasal passageways with saline nose drops and gentle suction may help your baby to feed and remain hydrated.
Working hard to breathe, signs of dehydration, extreme irritability after fever control and hydration are the most important signs to monitor for.
Uncommonly some children may develop symptoms of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) usually occurring after recovery from initial Covid illness. This is a rare complication consisting of prolonged fever, breathing difficulties, severe abdominal symptoms, rash and extreme irritability. Prolonged fever and severe symptoms should be reported to your doctor or checked immediately.
How common is it for children to develop serious symptoms?
It is uncommon for children to develop serious symptoms requiring hospitalization and ICU admissions remain rare. However, fever control and hydration along with close monitoring remain important.
What should you do if your child develops serious or worrisome symptoms?
You may want to start with ensuring fever control and adequate hydration. Often your child will improve with this in a short period of time.
You can request a virtual phone call with your doctor especially if videoconferencing is available.
Ontario telehealth is a free 24-hour service and can be reached at 1-866-797-0000
If symptoms are severe consisting of breathing difficulties, dehydration, extreme irritability, poor colour, lethargy call 911. Notify the dispatcher that your child has Covid.
Do not use public transportation to seek medical care unless you have no choice.