CLEVELAND (WJW) – An alarming number of children in Northeast Ohio and across the country are developing a mysterious ailment called COVID Long-Haul Syndrome for weeks or even months after they’ve recovered from the virus.
“Even mild COVID, they get better, but then they don’t get better,” says Dr. Amy Edwards, a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. “Some of these kids had COVID a year or more ago and they’re still struggling with symptoms.”
Some of the debilitating symptoms include headaches, migraines, chronic recurring fever, chest pain, heart palpitations, stomach pain, diarrhea, chronic dizziness, back pain and limb pain, but by far the most common symptom is chronic fatigue.
“Far and away what we see is fatigue. These are kids who were running track, playing soccer, wrestling, hockey who can hardly get out of bed now,” said Dr. Edwards.
That’s despite seemingly normal test results.
“So our suspicion is some sort of cellular damage or mitochondrial damage that’s making it hard for these kids to function,” Dr. Edwards said.
Other illnesses like Lyme disease have caused similar long-term issues but not in the numbers being seen at local hospitals.
By some estimates. one in 10 children develops COVID Long-Haul Syndrome.
Dr. Edwards says they have more 60 being treated at Rainbow’s COVID recovery clinic and suspect the numbers are actually much higher because, oftentimes, guardians might think the child is faking an illness.
“I think it’s very, very likely that here in Northeast Ohio that there are hundreds of kids with Long-Haul COVID currently going undiagnosed and untreated,” said Dr. Edwards, who recommends all children experiencing symptoms get a full medical evaluation.
Although there is no cure, they have had success treating Long-Haul COVID with anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting protocols, including a healthy diet, limiting sugar and making sure kids get plenty of water and sleep.
Dr. Edwards says it is equally important that parents believe their child and realize Long-Haul COVID is a very real and painful illness.
“The mental toll this takes on kids is tremendous, so the main takeaway is to listen to your kids and if they’re not getting better like everybody else is, it is a real thing. Some kids don’t get better and they need extra help,” said Dr. Edwards.
Learn more about COVID Long-Haul and the recovery clinics for both children and adults here.