GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There are concerns about how COVID-19, specifically the omicron variant, impacts young kids. Doctors in West Michigan are seeing more cases of kids who have tested positive for COVID-19 showing symptoms of croup. 

Dr. Erica Michiels with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital said she had seen croup symptoms in kids with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Still, the considerable surge in West Michigan is making these cases a lot more common.

Medical experts say omicron appears to impact the upper airway more than other variants, which causes more upper respiratory symptoms, especially in kids. This is because children have much smaller airways, so anything that causes swelling and irritation in the windpipe can cause those croup-like symptoms.

Typical symptoms of croup include a seal-like, barky cough, a raspy voice or loss of voice, gaspy breathing noises (also known as stridor), and difficulty breathing.

Michiels said if your child is waking up struggling to breathe or making those harsh gasping noises, you should take them to the emergency room.

“If your child is over the age of five, I cannot recommend vaccination highly enough. It is the single best way for you to protect yourself and your child from this pandemic. If your child is under the age of five, trying to ensure that the people who care for them are primarily vaccinated and taking precautions when you’re inside is the best that you can do,” said Michiels. 

She added that this isn’t something parents should panic about because kids can be treated. However, while most children won’t end up in the hospital with COVID-19, they could still get sick. This is why medical experts continue to stress the importance of getting vaccinated.