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Paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome

(PIMS-TS or PIMS)

PIMS-TS is an illness thought to be caused by an earlier COVID-19 infection a few weeks before, which has provoked the immune system and triggered the inflammation.

This page explains what the condition is, how it is treated and how you are cared for after you go home.

What is PIMS-TS

PIMS is a condition which occurs in a very small number of children, several weeks after infection with COVID-19. It causes inflammation (swelling) throughout the body.

While the COVID infection itself was probably mild or had no symptoms, PIMS is a serious inflammatory illness that always leads to hospitalisation for at least a few days. Medicines are given to reduce the inflammation. Almost all children recover completely over a few weeks. PIMS is rare, affecting about 1 in every 3,000 children who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.

As world-leaders in medical research we were amongst the first in the world to report PIMS-TS as a new condition in April 2020. As the condition is new, there is work happening across the world to learn all we can about it. We have been working with other hospitals in London since it was identified to understand more about the condition, improve treatments, and take part in pioneering research to understand any longer-term impacts.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of PIMS-TS can include:

  • high temperature (fever)
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhoea
  • being sick (vomiting)
  • bloodshot eyes
  • dry, red lips
  • red rash
  • peeling skin on fingertips and toes
  • swollen neck lymph glands

If your child has any of the following symptoms you should call your GP or call NHS 111 for advice. If your child develops chest pain, please call 999 immediately.

How is it treated?

The very small number of children who get PIMS-TS usually require hospital treatment as it is a serious condition. The children and young people we’ve seen with PIMS-TS have responded very well to the hospital treatment. We continue to monitor them through regular check-ups afterwards.

A combination of medicine is used to calm down your immune system that is causing the swelling in the body and making you unwell. This medicine includes:

  • Intravenous steroids (given through a thin tube into a vein, or by mouth) can reduce the inflammation in the body. Oral prednisolone should be taken with food.
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is a blood product that is sometimes given to reduce inflammation.
  • Aspirin reduces the risk of blood clots. This can usually be stopped six weeks after leaving hospital if your child’s heart scan at one of their follow-up appointments is OK. This medicine should be taken with food. 

Read our leaflets about PIMS-TS 

 

Read about one family's experience

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