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Vomiting is a tell-tale sign of BA.5 COVID infection in kids, a pediatrician says. Here are the other signs to look out for.

T Turovska/Getty Images

  • BA.4 and BA.5 infections in children can look different than adults.
  • Gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea and vomiting can be a tell-tale sign of infection, especially in younger kids.
  • But fevers and sore throats are still the most common COVID symptoms, overall. 

The most telling symptoms of a COVID-19 infection with variants BA.4 and BA.5 may not always look the same in young kids as they do in adults.

With the two Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 now responsible for an estimated 90% of US cases, it’s safe to assume if your child has COVID, it is probably one of these highly infectious versions of the virus.

Dr. Julianne Burns, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Stanford Children’s Health in California, says that symptoms of COVID this summer haven’t differed too much from what she saw with Omicron in the winter and spring.

“We’ve seen less loss of taste and smell,” she told Insider. Instead, both kids and adults have been experiencing “cold symptoms, like sore throat, runny nose, cough,” fatigue, fever, headaches, and body aches, she said.

But one major difference between kids and adults that Burns has noticed lately is that kids are experiencing more stomach issues with COVID than adults do — and sometimes these are the only tell-tale signs that youngsters are infected at all.

“Gastrointestinal symptoms can be more common in children,” she noted. This is especially true in younger kids, who may have tummy issues as their most prominent COVID symptoms. 

Gastrointestinal issues kids may experience with COVID include:

  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • and loss of appetite

Other symptoms

Still, the most common COVID symptoms kids experience, overall, are quite similar to those of adults, and include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • congestion
  • and runny nose

Avoid people with common cold symptoms, experts say

Tim Spector, who runs the highly regarded Zoe COVID study in the UK, has been seeing the same trends as Burns has lately in data he collects on the most common COVID symptoms. These symptoms are reported by hundreds of thousands of people of all ages across the UK, via their smartphones:

top 20 symptoms covid jul 2022Data current as of July 14, 2022.

Zoe

Because some of the top COVID symptoms right now look a lot like a common cold, Spector suggests you “make sure you’re in a well-ventilated place — don’t go near anyone with cold-like symptoms, please,” and wear a well-fitted mask when in public indoors to avoid catching and spreading the virus this summer.

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