Rise in cases of common cold in young children may be linked to COVID-19 lockdowns

Rise in cases of common cold in young children may be linked to COVID-19 lockdowns

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As children have returned to school in recent weeks, doctors have noticed an increase in severe cases of colds in some children due to two of the most common viruses known to cause upper respiratory infection: rhinoviruses and enteroviruses.

That’s according to a recent report from Chicago – although the situation is not limited to that region.

These viruses usually cause only mild upper respiratory symptoms in healthy adults.

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However, “we have seen more young children and infants with respiratory illnesses than usual [see] in the summer – and more children with serious illnesses need to be admitted to hospital and intensive care,” said Dr. Czer Anthony Lim, director of pediatric emergency medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York, at Fox News Digital.

A child receives a health check from a doctor.

“What’s interesting is that we’ve had a kind of virus potpourri,” Dr. Natalie Lambajian-Drummond of Yorkville, Illinois, recently told CBS Chicago, adding that she even had to admit a child by ambulance.

Although it’s possible to catch a cold any time of year, most colds occur in the winter and spring, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Common respiratory viruses

Many respiratory viruses can cause the common cold, but rhinoviruses are the most common, the CDC said.

Although there are many types of enteroviruses, most cause only mild illness, according to the Cedars-Sinai website.

Another respiratory virus that causes cold symptoms is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), but it can cause serious illness in infants.

These viruses usually occur mainly in the summer and fall, causing the “summer flu”, but can cause other illnesses, such as a skin rash known as hand-foot-mouth disease.

They mainly infect children because most adults have developed immunity to them, the website added.

Another respiratory virus that causes cold symptoms is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), but it can cause serious illness in infants.

A mother checks her sick daughter's throat.

A mother checks her sick daughter’s throat.
(Stock)

“Historically, respiratory syncytial virus season started in mid to late fall and extended into early spring,” said Dr. Mike Smith, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Duke University School of Medicine. .

“RSV can cause bronchiolitis – inflammation of the small airways – and cause breathing problems that require hospitalization for children in the first year of life.”

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He told Fox News Digital that in some parts of the country RSV season has already started this year.

“Children at higher risk of severe disease after RSV include those who were born prematurely (< 29 weeks gestational age) or who have chronic lung disease, certain types of congenital heart disease, certain neuromuscular diseases, and immunosuppression,” he added.

He also reminded people that influenza, commonly known as “the flu,” is another common respiratory virus that occurs every year. “Flu shots are now available for anyone 6 months and older, so it’s important to protect yourself,” he said.

Cold symptoms

Among the first symptoms of the common cold are a sore throat and runny nose, followed by coughing and sneezing, the CDC added.

Other symptoms may include headaches and body aches.

But most people improve within a week to 10 days, according to the CDC.

A woman suffers from a cold.  Says Dr. Marc Siegel, a Fox News contributor,

A woman suffers from a cold. Dr Marc Siegel, a Fox News contributor, said: “As the masks came off and the kids started interacting more, we started seeing more of these infections even out of season. [over the summer]some light, some more serious.”
(Stock)

“Omicron is associated with more upper respiratory tract symptoms than previous variants,” said Dr. Marc Siegel, Fox News contributor and professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Siegel told Fox News Digital that this makes it more difficult to distinguish omicron from other upper respiratory infections, such as rhinovirus, RSV and enteroviruses, especially in young children.

“In fact, when the masks came off and the kids started interacting more, we started seeing more of these infections even out of season. [over the summer]some mild, some more severe,” he said.

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This will now increase the possibility of other respiratory viruses causing typical cold symptoms compared to the past two years – when many medical professionals “associated every sore throat, every sinus infection, every cough with COVID”, has added Siegel.

Cold and COVID-19 Restrictions

Traditionally, people who contract a serious illness, such as pneumonia, are those “with a weakened immune system, asthma, or respiratory problems,” the CDC said.

But some young children’s immune systems have not developed immunity to the common cold due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

When young children are infected with the common cold from certain respiratory viruses, some can get more serious infections today, health professionals say.

When young children are infected with the common cold from certain respiratory viruses, some can get more serious infections today, health professionals say.
(Stock)

So when young children are infected with the common cold from certain respiratory viruses, some may get more serious infections. “I would say kids under 5 are kind of the group to watch,” Lambajian-Drummond warned on CBS.

“A lot of the young kids we see have had much tougher lessons when they catch these viruses.”

Some young children’s immune systems have not developed immunity to the common cold due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There may be several explanations for this rise, including COVID-19, enterovirus D68, and reduced innate immunity,” added Lim, who is also an associate professor of emergency medicine, pediatrics, and medical education. at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

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“Although COVID-19 in children generally presents as a mild illness, a small number of children develop severe illness – with only 7% of children under 5 vaccinated and the movement towards mask optional in the schools, this group becomes particularly susceptible.”

He also told Fox News Digital that limited in-person childcare and school opportunities have reduced exposure to common illnesses that can boost innate immunity in young children.

Epidemiology

Every year, millions of Americans catch colds, with adults having an average of 2-3 colds per year. But children generally have more infections, according to the CDC.

“Colds are the number one reason children miss school and adults miss work,” the CDC said on its website.

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There is no cure for the common cold, so treatment is directed at the symptoms, according to the CDC.

Prevention is key

To decrease your risk of catching a cold, the CDC recommends these simple tips: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid contact with sick people. And don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

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If you or your children have cold symptoms, the agency also recommends calling your doctor for the following reasons: symptoms that last longer than 10 days; unusual or severe symptoms, such as fever or if your child is lethargic; your child is less than 3 months old.

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