Doctors are starting to notice a new long COVID symptom in kids that impacts breathing.
Research from National Jewish Health shows that the smaller airways that run through the lungs are getting disrupted. Either the muscles around them constrict, the airways inflame, or sometimes both.
“So air is kind of stuck in the airway, and that can cause chest pain and just difficulty with breathing shortness of breath, said Dr. Nathan Rabinovitch, a pediatric allergist and immunologist at National Jewish Health.
So far, Rabinovitch’s health center has seen this in about 50 kids. National Jewish Health said it's like asthma, but there is a key difference. Shortness of breath can come even at rest. It also doesn't always show up on a typical asthma screening.
”So it's a little bit different, and may not fit the exact definition of asthma. But we treat it in a similar fashion,” he said.
That includes daily medications with albuterol in them and lung rehab. Doctors say with treatment, this condition seems to be reversible, but it can take a toll on kids while they're going through it.
Since shortness of breath can come at any time, some kids have had school and sleep disrupted.
“So a lot of these kids don't want to go to school anymore because they feel like they can't participate is just too psychologically difficult for them. It's frustrating, you know. There's a fair amount of anxiety about this and depression," Rabinovitch said.
He said the best thing parents can do is listen to their kids about what they're experiencing.