Treatment for Long COVID in children and teenagers – your questions answered
For more than two years, COVID-19 took over every aspect of our lives, from how we worked or went to school, to who we could see. It affected our physical and mental wellbeing, and for some people who contracted the virus, the symptoms of COVID stayed around long after the lockdowns were lifted.
For teenagers and children suffering with Long COVID the list of symptoms can be very worrisome; fatigue, sickness, chest pains or palpitations, joint pain, rashes, brain fog, insomnia and even depression and anxiety. NHS treatment for Long Haul COVID focuses on managing these symptoms but with limited success.
Over the last two years, we have been successfully working with children, teenagers and young adults to help them resolve Long COVID fatigue. They are getting better, doing more and have either recovered or are well on their way to living a normal, happy and healthy life again.
The reason we are able to help people with Long COVID is because it is rooted in the same stress response which causes chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and chronic pain which we treat young people for every week.
New Pathway’s guide to Treatment for Long COVID in children and teenagers
Q. What causes Long COVID in children and teenagers?
A. In mainstream medical terms, Long COVID is a bit of a mystery. It affects people young and old, and it doesn’t seem to matter whether their initial infection was mild or severe. The diverse range of symptoms associated with Long COVID, from respiratory to neurological, makes it appear to be a very complex condition. But it develops in the same way as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) which can also be triggered by viral infections like glandular fever.
The way Long COVID develops is actually very simple. The initial COVID infection fires up the body’s sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response) to fight off the infection. Once the infection has passed, the body’s parasympathetic nervous system should kick in to promote normal body function (homeostasis).
In Long COVID and CFS sufferers, the sympathetic nervous system remains engaged, which then creates more stress hormones, which leads to emotional and physiological changes and more symptoms until a cycle of ill health is established. This is when the body reaches the point of chronic stress.
A 2023 article in Scientific American remarks on the striking resemblance between Long COVID and CFS/ME.
Q. Why isn’t my child recovering from Long COVID?
A. Your child may have been prescribed medication or been advised on dietary changes which could help their recovery, but you will have noticed that any changes to their health and wellbeing will be limited and temporary. This will be the case until the underlying chronic stress is addressed.
And that chronic stress will continue, particularly with Long Haul COVID as it causes high levels of health anxiety in patients. There is a lot of worrying news and hype about Long COVID – your child may feel like they are never going to get better or see their friends like they used to. They may miss their active hobbies, like football, dancing and karate. This all affects their mood and keeps them worrying about the future, keeping the mind and body in a state of high alert, further feeding that stress response.
Q. Why does Long COVID cause so many different physical symptoms?
A. There is a clear link between our mental and physical health and there are an increasing number of studies and research papers being published on this emerging field of medicine.
When our minds are not in good health, it has an impact on our bodies and vice versa. This is because our body’s systems communicate and are networked together including the brain, and our neurological, endocrine and immune systems. Essentially, our thoughts have the power to change our brain and therefore our bodies.
When the body is experiencing chronic stress, it impairs the normal functioning of all those different systems. This is why Long COVID is linked to such an array of symptoms from digestive disturbances (nausea and diarrhoea) to cognitive symptoms (brain fog and depression).
Q. Is there any cure for Long COVID fatigue in children and teenagers?
A. Fatigue is the most common and debilitating symptom of Long COVID for children, teenagers and adults. But for young people in particular, who are used to being active and social, it has a devastating effect on their quality of life.
Long COVID fatigue is made worse by health anxiety, which keeps the brain and body in a high stress state leading to tiredness, fatigue and eventually exhaustion.
Your child’s natural state is a healthy, buoyant one. If their fatigue levels vary from day to day – i.e. some days they have more energy than others and can do more – this is a good sign. It means that their parasympathetic nervous system is still able to do its job in reverting the brain and body back to homeostasis – normal function. By learning some simple techniques, your child can ensure they are in homeostasis for longer, switching off their stress response when it isn’t required and helping them to return to an active and healthier life.
Q. Why conventional treatment for Long COVID in children and teenagers doesn’t work?
A. Modern medicine struggles to treat chronic illnesses, such as Long COVID, chronic fatigue and chronic pain, because it focuses on ruling out other underlying health conditions and then managing the symptoms being presented rather than the treating the root cause – which is chronic stress.
Some conventional and alternative treatment may provide temporary or symptomatic relief of Long COVID fatigue, but essentially, focusing on rewiring the cognitive pathways in a young person’s brain to switch off the stress response is the way to resolve their physiological symptoms for good.
Q. Why is the New Pathways Programme successful as a treatment for Long COVID in children and teenagers?
A. The New Pathways Programme is an effective treatment for long covid in chilren and teenagers because it addresses the root cause of Long COVID and many chronic illnesses – chronic stress.
On our programme, young people learn powerful strategies and techniques that help them manage the stress response and improve how they feel. By responding differently, they create new neural pathways between the brain and body. As the new pathways become established, the parasympathetic system is more freely activated, returning the brain and body back to homeostasis and normally function.
With the stress response under control, this leads to improvements in their cognitive, digestive and immune functions, as well as a reduction in inflammation, with symptoms naturally resolving themselves over time.
Young brains are particularly receptive to being reprogrammed in this way because they have a higher plasticity than adult brains and they have a less developed prefrontal cortex (that’s the part of the brain which deals with working memory). For the young people that complete our programme, their lives can be transformed in just a few weeks. For some, the change happens in just a few days.
If you are interested in finding out more about how we are successfully treating Long Haul Covid in children and teenagers, you can book a free discovery call with Steve here.