(CMR) COVID-19 usually presents mildly in children, with those under 18 years old reporting mild cold-like symptoms; however, severe cases are sometimes possible in babies, toddlers, and kids.
But how can you tell the difference between a coronavirus-induced cough and one caused by normal circumstances? Parents.com explains the difference between COVID-19 and a regular cough:
Dr. Hector de Leon, pediatrician for Kaiser Permanente in Colorado, said the coronavirus type of cough is often dry—meaning it doesn't produce mucus or phlegm. It's likely caused by irritation of the lung tissues from the virus. Other signs of a dry cough include tickling in the throat, hacking sounds, and no feeling of relief after a coughing spell.
It's important to note, though, that a percentage of COVID-19 patients report a productive wet cough instead, Dr. de Leon said. This type of cough releases mucus or phlegm, and it often comes with a postnasal drip.
Because Omicron tends to settle higher in the respiratory tract, doctors are noticing another symptom in young kids: a barking cough that resembles croup. This can happen when a child's narrow airways become inflamed or swollen. If your child develops a barking cough, it's important to bring it up with their doctor, but experts say not to worry because croup is familiar and easily treatable.
Try analyzing your child's overall health. Do they also have sneezing, red eyes, and a scratchy throat? If so, their symptoms are likely from allergies. Similarly, if their cough worsens after eating and comes with heartburn, the diagnosis might be GERD. “If your child isn't struggling, if they can do the things that they normally do like play outside, it's probably something they can manage at home,” noted Dr. de Leon.
Your child may have COVID-19 if they've had recent exposure or if they develop other symptoms of the virus. Symptoms generally appear 2-14 days after transmission, and they might include: Fever, Sore throat, Fatigue, Headache, Runny nose or congestion, Body aches, Gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and diarrhea, Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, and Loss of taste or smell
Alert your doctor if you think your child may have COVID-19. Always call the office before visiting; they may need to take special precautions for possible coronavirus cases.
To treat COVID-19, the CDC recommends staying home, getting enough rest, and monitoring your symptoms. Dr. de Leon added that honey can soothe a dry cough, and staying hydrated also promotes faster recovery.
Perhaps the most important thing, though, is staying isolated to stop the spread of COVID-19 to others. While children generally have mild cases, the coronavirus can be serious for elderly people and those with compromised immune systems. Caregivers should wash their hands often, disinfect surfaces regularly, and avoid sharing personal items.