Pediatricians at Eugene Pediatric Associates field questions daily from concerned parents who want to know whether the symptoms their child is exhibiting are consistent with COVID-19.

“The problem with COVID is it is a viral syndrome and viral syndromes by definition are non-specific,” says Dr. LoRanée Braun, a pediatric infectious disease expert. How COVID-19 manifests in children and adults can vary significantly, with symptoms ranging from:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • A loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting

Since many of the symptoms of COVID-19 are also symptoms of other illnesses, Dr. Braun advises parents: “If your child has any manifestations of illness, it’s important not to send them back to school and not to put them in daycare. Those children need to stay home and stay isolated. Call your health care provider. Your pediatrician or your medical provider can tell you how to get that child tested in a safe way.”

Supporting your child during COVID-19 nasal swab testing
Children are often fearful and anxious when receiving a COVID-19 nasal swab test, where a swab is inserted deep into the nasal passage.

“It’s not harmful. It’s not a painful test,” says Dr. Braun. “It feels funny to have something going in our nose but it’s the best test collection we have to get the samples we need from the back of the nose.”

Help relieve your child’s fear and anxiety by showing them this video produced by the Mayo Clinic. When children are prepared to take a medical test, they become more cooperative and compliant, which creates a more positive experience for them. According to the Mayo Clinic, this video has been made to be watched by children as young as 4 years old.

Test results are typically available within 72 hours, and families are advised to isolate or quarantine, as needed.

  • If your child tests positive, know what protective steps to take to prevent others from getting sick.
  • If your child tests negative, they were probably were not infected at the time their sample was collected. The test result only means that your child did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing. Continue to take steps to protect your family.

What’s the difference between isolation and quarantine?

Isolation and quarantine are two terms that are often confused. Both help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease, like COVID-19.

According to the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

Learn when it’s appropriate to isolate or quarantine, and how to do both properly here.

Reducing the spread of COVID-19
Since some children and even adults with COVID may be asymptomatic, doctors stress the importance of taking steps to reduce the potential spread of the virus, including wearing face masks in public spaces, practicing social distancing and making good hand hygiene a regular habit.

“The more we want to support small business, the more we want to support schools, the more we want to support our community, that means the more we should be getting tested, doing the right thing with isolation and quarantine and wearing our masks,” says pediatrician Dr. Pilar Bradshaw. “We are not going to be able to stay re-opened unless we do those things.”