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Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service

Helping your child recover from COVID-19 fact sheet

Helping your child recover from COVID-19

Most children who test positive for COVID-19 recover completely within a few weeks, but some may take a little longer to get back to their normal selves and activity levels.

Some children may experience ongoing symptoms after they have recovered from a COVID-19 infection. These may include:

  • breathlessness
  • fatigue
  • racing heart or dizziness
  • brain fog or difficulty thinking
  • headaches
  • joint or muscle pain.

These symptoms will usually disappear within 12 weeks without medical treatment.

How you can support your child’s recovery

  1. Limit unnecessary activities and tasks
    • Prioritise essential activities.
    • Plan rest breaks throughout the day.
    • Plan a gradual return to usual activities/exercise (e.g. start with shorter, less frequent and lower intensity activities and slowly increase).
    • If exercise causes significant exhaustion or fatigue for 24 hours after an activity, your child must stop and focus on resting.
    • If your child can participate in exercise/activities without worsening symptoms, then gradually increase the time, frequency and intensity.
  2. Encourage them to eat healthy foods and stay hydrated
    • Include fruit and vegetables, wholegrain foods, protein, and dairy or dairy alternatives (e.g. soy milk, almond milk) in their meals every day.
    • Encourage your child to drink water ‘little and often’ throughout the day.
  3. Manage ‘brain fog’ (problems with thinking)
    • Do activities when rested and not feeling tired.
    • Minimise distractions.
    • Take frequent breaks.
    • Do one activity at a time.
    • Use memory aids such as lists, notes and calendars.
  4. Help them get a good night’s sleep
    • Stick to a regular routine for sleeping and waking times.
    • No screen time/devices in the hour before going to sleep.
    • Try relaxation techniques (breathing techniques, meditation) to help your child to get off to sleep.

When to seek medical advice

If your child develops any of the following symptoms after an COVID-19 infection, please seek medical advice from your GP or medical service provider:

  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing at rest
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing with light activity which does not improve with rest
  • chest pain, racing heart or dizziness worsened by exercise or activity
  • worsening confusion, difficulty talking or difficulty understanding speech
  • new weakness in their face, arms or legs, particularly on one side of the body
  • worsening mood, anxiety or thoughts of self-harm.

Long COVID

Some children may experience symptoms that last longer than 12 weeks after their initial COVID-19 infection. The World Health Organisation defines this as ‘Long COVID’. Symptoms can include:

  • extreme fatigue (tiredness)
  • shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness
  • problems with memory and concentration
  • changes to taste and smell
  • joint and muscle pain.

Long COVID symptoms are not linked to the severity of your child’s initial symptoms and may change and affect your child in different ways at different times.

The impact of Long COVID on children in Australia is not well understood due to very few cases at this time, but it’s important to be aware that symptoms can last longer.

If Long COVID symptoms are impacting your child’s day to day functioning it is important to organise a review by your GP, paediatrician or paediatric specialist.

Paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome

A very small number of children (less than 0.5 %) around the world have developed paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS-TS) after recovering from COVID-19. This condition causes different parts of the body to become inflamed, usually between two to four weeks after infection.  Most children will recover fully from PIMS-TS, but it’s important to seek medical help immediately by calling 000 if you notice any of the following:

  • discoloured or blotchy skin
  • pale or bluish skin
  • troubled breathing
  • persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • confusion
  • extreme tiredness (you’re unable to wake them or keep them awake).

Developed by Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service and the Infectious Diseases Department, Queensland Children’s Hospital. We acknowledge the input of consumers and carers.

Resource ID: FS151 Reviewed: February 2022

Disclaimer
This information has been produced by healthcare professionals as a guideline only and is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your child’s doctor or healthcare professionals. Information is updated regularly, so please check you are referring to the most recent version. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.

CHQ