How Covid is affecting young adults and children – and what you need to know?
The past 18 months has carried the risk of not only contracting Covid-19, but in some cases, developing ‘Long Covid’ - a post-viral condition described by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence as a state where symptoms continue for more than 12 weeks after an infection and can’t be explained by another cause.
Long Covid can affect people of all ages. While it appears to be less common in children than originally feared, the number of children catching Covid means that even a low percentage developing persistent conditions becomes a cause for concern.
We spoke to our Lead GP, Dr Chiraush Patel for his insight into the issue:
What is ‘Long Covid’ - is it an officially recognised condition? What are the symptoms?
Long Covid is when persistent symptoms continue weeks or months after an initial viral infection. Common symptoms include: extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, chest pain, memory problems ‘brain fog’, difficulty sleeping, heart palpitations, joint pain, mood changes and changes to sense of smell.
How is Long Covid hitting young people, and how does this differ to how adults get it?
There is still a lot we don't know about Long Covid, but various studies have been performed to allow us to start building a picture of who it affects. The Office for National Statistics (ONS), estimated that the prevalence of symptoms 5 weeks after testing positive for COVID-19 was highest among 35–49 year olds (at 25.6%) and 50–69 year olds (25.1%), compared to 21% across the general population. Evidence is also emerging that those who have been hospitalised or had ITU stays are more likely to have Long Covid symptoms.
Why are children experiencing it differently?
It has been relatively reassuring that children who contract Covid tend to experience a milder form of the infection, with much lower admission rates. This is also the case for Long Covid symptoms, with only 2-14% having ongoing symptoms after 15 weeks. Mood, sleep and energy symptoms are the most common complaints in children with Long Covid, although this may be a broader reflection of the pandemics effect on children through closure of schools, inability to socialise and anxiety related to the pandemic itself.
If you've contracted Covid, is there anything that you can do to minimise your chance of it developing into Long Covid?
There is no evidence to support any treatments to prevent Long Covid once Covid has been contracted. Preventing Covid infections and minimising the severity from it would seem sensible and can be achieved by getting vaccinated.
What treatments are available at (med)24 to any young people suffering Long Covid?
Long Covid is likely a collection of different conditions that have been banded together. At (med)24, our post-Covid pathway is designed to uncover any ongoing damage to the body that may have occurred following an infection. This involves exploring the individuals medical history in detail, alongside an examination to assess the physical and emotional effects from the infection – from that, we can develop a bespoke plan of action.
For more information or to book to speak to our GPs about any Covid-related concerns you may have, click here.