Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Children

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You might see your kid complaining of tiredness every day after coming home from school. Initially, you might pass it off as the usual tiredness kids’ face as a result of joggling academics and other co curricular activities. But if this fatigue does not go even after a prolonged period of time, then it is time for you to worry, for your child might be suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disease for doctors to diagnose and even fully understand. CFS is a physical condition, but it can also affect a person emotionally. This means that someone with CFS may feel physical symptoms, such as extreme fatigue (a feeling of being very tired and weak, headaches and dizziness. But the person may also notice emotional symptoms, such as a loss of interest in favorite activities. Also, different people with CFS can have different symptoms. Many CFS symptoms are similar to those of other health conditions, like mono, Lyme disease, or depression. And the symptoms can vary over time, even in the same person. This makes treating the illness complicated. No single medicine or treatment can address all the possible symptoms.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

chronic fatigue syndrome

Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome

There’s a long list of possible symptoms that someone with chronic fatigue syndrome can have. The most common ones include:

  • Severe fatigue, which can make it hard to get out of bed and do normal daily activities
  • Sleep problems, such as trouble falling or staying asleep, or not having a refreshing sleep
  • Symptoms getting worse after physical or mental effort (this is called post-exertional malaise)
  • Symptoms or dizziness that get worse after standing up or sitting upright from a lying down position
  • Problems with concentration and memory
  • Headaches and stomachaches

Causes of chronic fatigue syndrome

Many doctors believe that the way some conditions interact in the body and mind might leave some kids at risk for cfs. For example, if someone has a virus and is under a lot of stress, this combination might make them more likely to develop cfs. A lot of doctors think that these things interact this way, putting a lot of kids at risk for chronic fatigue syndrome:

  • Experts have wondered if infections like measles or epstein-barr virus (the virus that causes mono) might increase the risk for cfs. The role epstein-barr plays in cfs is not clear because studies have not confirmed it as a cause.
  • Problems with the immune system or the nervous system.
  • Hormone imbalances when puberty hits.
  • Emotional stress caused by academics and other things.
  • Low blood pressure due to poor diet and lifestyle.

Diagnosis for chronic fatigue syndrome

Right now, there’s no test to tell if someone has chronic fatigue syndrome. Doctors ask a lot of questions about things kids do. They also will do a detailed exam. Doctors also usually order blood, urine (pee), or other tests to check for conditions that cause similar symptoms. They may send a person to see other specialists, such as a sleep specialist or a neurologist, to help with the diagnosis. The doctor may suggest meeting with a psychologist or a therapist to see whether mental health disorders might contribute to or mask cfs. This is usually how doctors diagnose cfs in children.

Treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome

There’s no known cure for chronic fatigue syndrome. But these lifestyle changes can help kids who have it:

  • Regular planned exercise as part of a daily routine. Exercise can increase energy and make a person feel better. Kids with CFS should pace themselves while doing any physical activity that takes a lot of effort. Several studies show that graded exercise is very helpful in CFS recovery. This means starting with small activities and slowly working up to a higher level of exercise.
  • Follow stress-management and stress-reduction techniques. A doctor or therapist can teach kids great ways to take control of some aspects of the illness.
  • Ensure good sleep habits and regular bedtime routines to overcome CFS-related sleep problems.
  • Find ways to keep track of important things, such as keeping lists and making notes, if there are problems with concentration or memory.
  • Having a positive outlook about getting better is very helpful. Therapy and support groups can also help students with CFS deal with the academic or social challenges. It’s common for kids with CFS to miss school, have poor grades, or withdraw from friends and social situations. Doctors may suggest medicines for some of these symptoms.

To conclude, having chronic fatigue syndrome can be hard. But for most kids, the symptoms are most severe in the beginning. Later, they may come and go. Kids with CFS generally get better faster and recover more completely than adults do. Most kids get partial or full recovery within 5 years after symptoms began. Many new and experimental treatments for CFS are available. But don’t use any unproven treatments (such as extreme doses of vitamin or herbal supplements) until checking with your doctor.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5301046/

https://adc.bmj.com/content/79/4/368

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