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COVID infection - managing symptoms in children

Written by Healthwords's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 25.04.2023 | 3 min read

Symptoms of COVD-19 were around 3 classical ones: continuous cough, fever and loss of sense of smell or taste. However, the symptoms in children quickly adapted to include sore throat, diarrhoea, headache, tiredness, muscle joint aches, conjunctivitis, nausea or vomiting and runny nose.

It’s much rarer for serious illness from COVID to afflict those under 18, but not impossible. If they experience shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing, this is reason to seek urgent medical attention, as you would in other illnesses.

Post-COVID syndrome, or long COVID as most people know it, can occur in children, where certain symptoms such as cough, difficulty breathing or exercising, concentration difficulty or immense fatigue, can persist for three months or more after the initial infection.

How can I help my child's symptoms?

Cough can be managed with cough medicines. Warm fluids can also help alleviate the symptoms of dry cough Honey in children aged over 1 can help relieve a dry throat caused by coughing.

Fevers can be managed with paracetamol or ibuprofen may help to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains.

Sore throats can be managed with lozenges or sprays which help numb the pain. Painkillers and warm fluids can also be helped.

Antibiotics do not work against COVID-19 or any viruses. They will not relieve your symptoms or speed up your recovery. In some cases, a superseded bacterial infection may occur. Talk to your doctor if you think your child is developing symptoms of bacterial infection or their symptoms are worsening.

When should I take them to the doctor?

Reasons to seek immediate medical attention are: any difficulty in breathing or breathlessness, if they are confused or difficult to wake, or if fever persists despite maximum dose anti-fever medication, and if they may be dehydrated, from frequent vomiting, diarrhoea or lack of fluid intake.

You can attend the emergency department or call 999 for an ambulance. Those with asthma, insulin-dependent diabetes or other health conditions are at higher risk of serious illness.

If you think your child is suffering from post-COVID syndrome, book an appointment with your GP to discuss this.

Is there anything I can do to prevent infection?

The pandemic (and every winter preceding it) has proven how difficult it is to prevent viral illness spreading between children at nursery or school – they are sat close to each other all day, and play and chat without much concept of personal space. So it’s difficult to prevent spread by telling them to keep a distance and wear masks.

If they are old enough, the best thing you can do is to follow government advice and consent to the COVID vaccine. If they’ve had COVID-19, they need to wait 28 days from when they had a positive test or first developed symptoms.

If they are on public transport or in crowded venues, it makes sense to protect themselves and others by wearing a mask if able and keeping their distance. They should keep their distance if they're unwell, especially from elderly or frail family members, and wash their hands thoroughly and often.

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