What does Omicron look like in a child?

key takeaways

  • Cases of COVID-19 caused by Omicron variants are increasing in children.
  • Symptoms in children are slightly different from adults.
  • Croup is a common Omicron symptom in children.

The rapid rise of Omicron in the U.S. and around the world clearly shows that this variant of COVID-19 is different from past strains. Not only is Omicron highly contagious, but reports suggest its symptoms are slightly different from other COVID-19 variants, including Delta.

One thing is clear: Omicron infections are increasing rapidly in children. More than 580,000 pediatric COVID-19 cases were reported for the week ended January 6, a 78% increase from the number of cases reported the previous week.

What are the symptoms of Omicron?

While there have not been many extensive studies of Omicron in children, there are some early studies and anecdotal reports that describe infection with this variant.

Here’s what you need to know about Omicron symptoms in children.

Omicron symptoms in children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not updated its COVID-19 symptoms since February 2021. The list includes:

  • fever or chills
  • cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • muscle or body pain
  • headache
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • stuffy or runny nose
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea

But a CDC report released in mid-December analyzed data on 43 patients with COVID-19, caused by Omicron, earlier that month and found that some symptoms were more common than others. These include:

  • cough
  • fatigue
  • congestion
  • runny nose
  • headache

Maya Ramagopal, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, told VigorTip, “The [in kids] May be similar to what is seen in adults. ”

COVID-19 may increase children’s risk of diabetes, CDC study finds

Daniel S. Ganjian, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician at St. John’s Health in Providence, Calif., told VigorTip that in his practice, children who use Omicron don’t lose their sense of taste and smell as often as they do with other variants of Omicron. . Virus.

“What we usually see is a fever, a cough and a runny nose — that’s Omicron,” he said. “Sometimes we also see vomiting and diarrhea.”

Children with Omicron may also have croup, a harsh-sounding cough, Gan Jian said. “It sounds like a barking seal when they cough,” he added.

What is croup?

Croup is a common disorder in children that causes swelling of the voice box (aka larynx) and windpipe (windpipe). This swelling causes the airway below the vocal cords to narrow, making breathing noisy and difficult. Croup is most common in children 3 months to 5 years old. After that age, it’s not very common because older children have larger airways and swelling is less likely to interfere with their breathing.

Croup is usually caused by an infection and is more common in the fall and winter than at other times of the year.

“Omicron causes upper respiratory tract infections, causing a typical bark or seal-like cough,” Ramagopal said. “Because the upper airway in children is narrower than in adults, even mild swelling can cause symptoms of croup.”

what does this mean to you

A variant of Omicron has spread rapidly across the country, causing cold-like symptoms in children. If your child shows signs of COVID-19, including croup, contact your pediatrician for next steps.

How to Treat Croup in Children

Here are some things you can do to treat your child’s croup from COVID:

  • Take your child to cool air. This can help soothe their airways and make it easier for them to breathe, Ramagopal says.
  • Use a vaporizer in your child’s room at night. Ganjian notes that the warm, moist air from the vaporizer helps relax the vocal cords.
  • Put them in a damp bathroom. It is the same concept as the evaporator. “The hot steam from the shower helps relieve sudden [symptoms],” Ramagopal said.
  • Try to keep your child as calm as possible. “They usually breathe better when they’re not crying,” Gan Jian said.

If your child has a new food aversion, it could be COVID

When to call your pediatrician

If your child develops croup or other symptoms of COVID-19, it’s best to consult your pediatrician about next steps, Ganjian said.

“You can’t assume it’s COVID-19 or ‘just’ COVID-19,” he said. “I just had a patient with both COVID-19 and RSV who just had croup-like symptoms. That’s why we love testing these things.”

If your child has a high fever, is lethargic, or has a sore throat that is too severe to eat or drink, you also need to see a doctor as soon as possible, Ramagopal says.

In general, most of the children infected with Omicron are doing well, Gan Jian noted. But you need to keep an eye out for signs of a more serious infection, just in case.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means that you may have updated information as you read this article. For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus news page.