Caring for a Child With COVID

February 6, 2023
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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As much as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world, it has generally had less of an impact on children. Compared to adults, especially the elderly and people with chronic health problems, there have been fewer reported cases of the disease in children. While children seem to contract the virus about as much as grownups, symptoms are often milder or not noticeable at all.

Although COVID tends to be milder for younger people, kids can still get sick with COVID, and it should always be taken seriously. If your child has COVID, or you think he or she may have symptoms, the following overview can help you take steps to give your little one the right level of care.

Symptoms of COVID-19

Symptoms of COVID can be difficult to recognize because there are so many of them, and because they are so similar to other illnesses like cold and the flu. Additionally, as new strains of the coronavirus that cause COVID-19 have developed, such as the Delta and Omicron variants, new symptoms have emerged or become more prevalent.

The most frequently reported symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Aches and soreness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of smell and taste

Because children can have COVID-19 and show little-or-no symptoms, it is important to receive a proper diagnosis if you notice any of these signs.

What to Do If You Think Your Child Has COVID

If your child has any likely symptoms of COVID-19, call your pediatrician right away. Tell your doctor if there has been exposure to anyone with COVID. Your doctor can let you know if your child should come in for an office visit, have a telehealth visit, take a COVID test, or monitor and treat symptoms at home.

For symptoms that seem serious or severe, such as serious breathing difficulties or chest pain, your pediatrician may recommend taking your child to urgent care or the emergency room. It is important to follow any medical advice and never try to diagnose and treat symptoms without consulting with a qualified health professional.

When to Test for COVID

Doctors recommend testing a child or anyone who may have COVID under these circumstances:

  • Any symptoms consistent with COVID-19
  • Approximately five days after close contact with someone confirmed with COVID
  • If required by public health officials, a school district, or another organization

While testing used to be more difficult and time-consuming, home tests that can show a result in less than 30 minutes are now widely available. Your doctor may recommend a follow-up test in some cases to confirm the diagnosis.

When Should You Test the Rest of the Family?

Per the above guidelines, any family member who has been in close contact with your child should take a COVID test within five days if there has been a confirmed case. Taking this step can help limit the spread of the illness both within your family and in the general population.

To lower the risk of exposure, try to have a single caregiver for your child and keep your child isolated to a single room and bathroom. If possible, both the patient and caregiver should wear a mask. All family members should wash their hands often and clean surfaces with disinfecting cleaners regularly.

How Long Will Your Child Be Sick — And How Long Should You Isolate?

How long your child will be sick depends on factors including whether your child has other chronic health issues and the severity of symptoms. In most cases, COVID will be short and mild for children.

Typically, kids should be feeling better within three days to a week. Mild symptoms, such as a runny nose or cough, may persist for a week or two.

The CDC has shortened its guidelines for isolating after a COVID infection, but still recommends an isolation period. Currently, the recommendation is to isolate for five days. If symptoms have resolved and there has been no fever for 24 hours, this should be followed by another five days of mask wearing around others.

Basic COVID-19 Treatment for Children

Milder cases of COVID that can be treated at home with similar treatments as a cold or flu. This includes:

  • Making sure your child gets plenty of rest
  • Making sure your child drinks plenty of fluid and stays hydrated
  • Taking acetaminophen to help relieve fever
  • Using a humidifier to help with breathing, congestion, and coughing
  • Taking cough suppressants and decongestants if directed by your doctor

When in doubt, consult with your pediatrician if you have any questions about treatment, or if symptoms worsen.

When Can Your Child Return to Normal Activities?

Generally, this should be taken on a case-by-case basis. If your child is symptom free and has followed all isolation and quarantine guidelines, they can return to activities when they feel better. Your school or any organized activities may have additional requirements for testing or isolating.

Managing Long-Term Effects of COVID

Although relatively rare, especially for children, some people with COVID-19 deal with long-term effects. This is sometimes called long COVID, or post-COVID. The chance of long-term aftereffects of COVID can be higher for children dealing with chronic health conditions such as asthma or a congenital heart defect.

In these situations, it may take longer to recover from COVID and they may need ongoing care. This can include medications, activity modifications, and rehabilitation.

Pediatric home health care can be a beneficial service for families with a wide range of needs while a child recovers from COVID, particularly children managing longer-term effects. From assisting with medications and dietary needs to accompanying your child to appointments, a home health professional can help families with busy schedules navigate challenging circumstances.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care in Florida

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help. We have been enforcing precautionary measures and following the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for COVID-19 to ensure the safety and health of our clients and employees.

Our home health care services offer one-on-one care with a client in the comfort of their home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.