“When he woke up [November 10] and he felt even worse, I told him, “You know what, let’s do a test before we go in, because I don’t want you to get vaccinated against Covid if you really have Covid,” Michigan’s mother said.
Jack tested positive for Covid-19 that day and has been living with the symptoms ever since.
This has prevented him from staying in school all day. You need to limit how much you play baseball with other kids in the neighborhood. Even playing Fortnite for too long can make you feel sick the next day.
He is one of millions of children potentially with long Covid.
“My stomach hurts. It’s a little hard to breathe. You have a stuffy nose. It’s just an absurd amount of things you can feel,” Jack Ford said. “Sometimes it’s very annoying. It’s not like a cold, you know, it feels like Covid.
“People may think you’re pretending, but you’re not pretending. You feel like you have Covid,” he added.
“An undiagnosed problem”
Many doctors treating children at long Covid clinics across the country say they have long waits for appointments. Some are reserved until September.
An unusual range of symptoms
There is no specific test for long Covid. It is unclear which children will have it, as it can happen even when a child has a mild case of Covid-19.
Even when children with long Covid are tested for diseases that can cause these symptoms, nothing may appear.
“They tested me and it seemed like nothing was happening to me, but they went out of their way to find something,” Jack Ford said.
His lung function test and ECG returned to normal. “The Covid clinic said this is very common in children with long Covid. Sometimes all the tests go back to normal,” Kim Ford said.
“We also analyzed them and their gastrointestinal tracts are normal. I’m doing a big immune study and their immune system looks normal. Everything ‘looks normal,’ but kids don’t function as normal,” Edwards said. “I tell families, ‘They have to remember, there are limits to what medical science understands and can prove.’ Sometimes we’re not smart enough to know where to look.”
Adult problems tend to be more obvious, Edwards said, because they are more likely to do so they have an organic dysfunction that is shown in the tests.
At the Sexson Tejte Clinic in Texas, children often fall into certain categories. Some have fatigue, brain fog and severe headaches, “to the point that some kids can’t go to school, grades are failing, that kind of trouble,” he said.
Another group has heart problems such as heart palpitations, chest pains and dizziness, especially when they return to normal activities.
Another group has stomach problems. Many of these children also have a change in their sense of taste and smell.
Sexson Tejte said it’s not entirely different from the symptoms adults have, “but it’s not the mixture of the involvement of different organ systems with adults.”
“Once the bucket is empty, it’s over”
One of Jack Ford’s symptoms affects the amount of energy he has for typical activities.
“Covid’s long-term patients have post-exertion discomfort, which is Jack’s biggest problem,” Kim Ford said. “So if you overdo it, and you don’t even have to overdo it physically. It could be that the day before you were very upset about something, or you could be really mentally engaged in something like watching TV or playing video games. sitting in his chair, he will knock him out. ”
Energy has become such a problem that Jack can’t go to school for an entire day. His parents started it again with one or two hours a day and have gradually increased it to about 5 and a half hours a day.
“We’ve been trying to increase it to six, but so far it hasn’t worked,” Kim Ford said. “He woke up pretty miserable the next day.”
Edwards, who runs the long-running Covid Clinic in Cleveland, says he needs to talk to parents to carefully balance the amount of energy their children spend. Most healthy people can get by if they are tired, but those with long Covid can’t. “It’s like they have a bucket of energy, and it has to be used carefully for school, to play, to watch TV. Everything they do needs energy, and once that bucket is empty, That’s it, “Edwards said.
Some of his teenage patients are exhausted just facing the typical school drama.
“Long-haul carriers have to think about every aspect of their day and when they can spend that energy. They have to have that balance. Otherwise, they run out.”
Many also have anxiety. Something may stem from the illness itself or the doubt they have heard from doctors or adults when they say they are not feeling well.
Experts across the country say they have listened to patients whose complaints are ignored, even after a radical change in their health. They have been told that they are being dramatic or seeking attention, or that the symptoms are in their head.
Yonts believes that there needs to be better recognition among doctors that Covid can be a real problem for a long time.
“I have two children in wheelchairs after having Covid who had never been in a wheelchair before. There is a child with crutches. I have a child who lost the use of his hands,” Edward said. “These kids have to be believed.”
Help is available, but not everyone has access to it
There is no specific treatment for long Covid, but most of these clinics are multidisciplinary.
At the Edwards Clinic, which opened last year, experts can address lung problems, digestive problems, physical rehabilitation, sleep problems, mental health issues and more. There is a staff nutritionist as well as a licensed acupuncturist and pediatrician licensed in Chinese Medicinal Herbs.
In addition to preparing a child’s schedule so that he can determine where to spend his energy and when to take breaks, Edwards Clinic teaches children to meditate. They do massages and mind-body exercises.
“Children need multiple elements of help. They get significantly better, they really do, if we are aggressive and receive support and intensive care,” Edwards said.
But not all children can enter a clinic.
“I’ve talked to so many people working on pediatric recovery in Covid, and they all say the same thing: ‘We care about children who don’t get help, who don’t have parents who can stand up for them. or browse the medical system. ‘ It keeps me awake at night, “Edwards said.
Much of what their clinic does is encourage children to get enough sleep and eat healthy foods, but not all families can afford healthy eating.
“I’m scared of these families in particular, because they’re already starting back. And now they have kids with Covid in the long run,” Edwards said. “Just wait for more people to realize the problem and try to help.”