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COVID-19 Symptoms in Children

by | Feb 19, 2021

First and foremost, if your child has symptoms of COVID-19 and you think he or she might have COVID-19, visit your healthcare provider. We can test children of all ages at KidsStreet  Keep your child at home and away from others as much as possible, except to get medical care. If possible, have your child use a separate bedroom and bathroom from family members. Follow recommendations from the CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO), and your physician regarding quarantine and isolation measures as appropriate.

COVID-19 Symptoms in Children

While children and adults experience similar symptoms of COVID-19, children’s symptoms tend to be mild and cold-like. Most children recover within one to two weeks. Their symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Factors used to decide whether to test your child for COVID-19 may differ depending on where you live. In the U.S., the doctor will determine whether to conduct tests for COVID-19 based on your child’s signs and symptoms, as well as whether your child has had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or traveled to or lived in any areas with ongoing community spread of COVID-19 in the past 14 days. The doctor may also consider testing if your child is at a higher risk of serious illness.

To test for COVID-19, a health care provider uses a long swab to take a sample from the back of the nose. The sample is then sent to a lab for testing. If your child is coughing up phlegm (sputum), that may be sent for testing.

Supporting Your Child During COVID-19 Nasal Swab Testing

The nasal swab testing can be uncomfortable, but it is similar to a flu swab. Here’s how you can help prepare your child and support them during the COVID-19 nasal swab testing.

  • Explain that this swab is a good thing. You may say something along the lines of, “You may have heard there is a virus going around that can make people feel sick. A virus is a germ and it is so tiny you can’t even see it. People who get this virus can have a fever or a cough and may feel achy and tired. Since you’re not feeling well, we are going to give you a medical test to help us understand why you feel sick. After you take the test, we can find ways to help your body.”
  • When you go to take your test, the health care provider will wear special protective clothing. They wear this clothing to keep themselves and you safe from getting germs. They will wear a mask to cover their nose and mouth and a clear plastic shield to protect their eyes.


The most important thing you can do during your test is to sit perfectly still like a statue. To help make sure you don’t move, your parent or caregiver will help keep you still and calm during your test. The health care provider needs to touch the inside of the back of your nose with a long, skinny Q-tip. To do this, you need to hold your chin up, then the health care provider will put the Q-tip in your nose for a short time to collect a sample.


While this happens you may feel like you want to push the Q-tip away, but it’s really important to stay as still as possible so the health care provider can finish the test. The Q-tip will be in and out of your nose in a few seconds.


Some kids tell me that counting to 3 or taking a deep breath relaxes them before the test happens, and some tell me they like to hold on to their favorite stuffed animal or blanket. Maybe you have your own way to relax.


Remember that during the test, the most important thing to do is to keep your body perfectly still.


You may have many feelings seeing the health care provider wearing different clothing, but know this person is caring and wants to help you.


Thank you for helping us find out why you are feeling sick.


But children also might have COVID-19 and not show symptoms. A study of 171 children with COVID-19 in China between late January and February showed that 27 children, or nearly 16%, had no symptoms of infection. In addition, a small study of 36 children with COVID-19 in China between January and March found that nearly half of the children showed no symptoms. Some recent studies have suggested that the virus that causes COVID-19 might be spread by children and adults who aren’t showing symptoms. This is why it’s crucial to follow recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

What is multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)?

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a serious condition in which some parts of the body — such as the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, digestive system, brain, skin or eyes — become inflamed. Inflammation typically includes swelling, often with redness and pain. Evidence indicates that many of these children were infected with the COVID-19 virus in the past, as shown by positive antibody test results.

Possible signs and symptoms of MIS-C include:


Fever that lasts 24 hours or longer



Pain in the stomach

Skin rash

Red eyes

Redness or swelling of the lips and tongue

Feeling unusually tired

Redness or swelling of the hands or feet

Emergency warning signs of MIS-C include:


Inability to wake up or stay awake

Difficulty breathing

Chest pain or pressure that doesn’t go away

New confusion

Bluish lips or face

Severe stomach pain

If your child shows any emergency warning signs or is severely sick with other signs and symptoms, take your child to the nearest emergency department or call 911 or your local emergency number. If your child isn’t severely ill but shows other signs or symptoms of MIS-C, contact your child’s doctor right away for advice.


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