ALABAMA (WHNT) — Health experts are finding that some children are experiencing debilitating effects of having COVID-19 that have lingered for months after the initial infection.
Doctors in Alabama told News 19 that they are still struggling to understand what causes long COVID in adults and how to treat it, but experts say the condition in children is even less understood.
Carla Mangrini’s 15-year-old son got the virus back in January. He spent several days in UAB Hospital and after a harrowing battle with COVID he came back home. Mangrini figured he had beaten COVID.
“My son is home, he’s fine, he’s healthy,” Mangrini told News 19. “He’s never had any health issues. But then we started picking up I think on little things.”
Mangrini said his health went downhill. Her strong-athletic son started to experience brain fog, forgetfulness and confusion.
“Kids seem like they are having ongoing symptoms and it’s having real ramifications,” Dr. Camden Hebson of UAB Children’s Hospital stated. “They are missing school and they are missing out on their extracurricular activities.”
Hebson has treated kids who seemed fine, then suddenly find themselves fighting delayed aftereffects of their COVID infection. They are debilitating effects such as headaches, labored breathing and fatigue. The kids he says, have been termed as long-haulers.
“They are previously healthy kids who you couldn’t hold them down,” Hebson continued. “They were going to do as many as four things after school. Now they are really just sort of sitting there and feeling bad and feeling poorly.”
Doctors admittingly are struggling to find the answers as to why the condition persists and exactly how to treat it.
“We don’t exactly know why, we don’t exactly know how long or whether or not vaccinations prevent that or makes it less likely,” added Dr. Wes Stubblefield with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH). “There’s just so many things we don’t know about it. It’s been a real thing and it’s been talked about over and over again in the population.”
In some cases doctors say that it’s possible that COVID-19 sparked conditions in children that may have not emerged until now. Commonly known among health experts as orthostatic intolerance.
“Orthostatic intolerance is a very common set of symptoms in kids in general,” Hebson stated. “Some kids have that predisposition to begin with and Covid ends up being the push that produced all of those symptoms for them.”
Dr. Hebson says that the condition is in children 12 to 17 years of age. He added the symptoms are manageable but urges parents to see a doctor and get an update on the health history.