Fatigue in a child - norm or pathology?
Both children and adults can be tired. Most often this is associated with periods of overload of learning, household chores, or excessive stress, and is a certain "norm" in the busy modern world. But what do pediatricians think about this and when does 'norm' turn into pathology?
Fatigue continues despite the relative mental and physical relief of the child - a feature of "normal" fatigue is giving way after a sufficiently long rest.
Fatigue is accompanied by additional symptoms - they are particularly worrying pallor, drowsiness, weight loss, painless swollen lymph nodes, recurrent upper respiratory tract infections, or low-grade fever for no apparent reason (temperature around 37 to 37.5 degrees Celsius, which is not accompanied by other symptoms of infection).
What can be the causes of constant fatigue in a child?
As we mentioned at the beginning, fatigue is a nonspecific symptom and may result for many trivial as well as health-threatening reasons. Let's take a closer look at examples of those that pose the greatest threat to a child and require urgent medical consultation:
- Anemia (most commonly from iron deficiency) - in addition to constant fatigue, for this disease entity are the most characteristic dry and pale skin, brittle hair and nails and so-called zajady (erosions appearing at the corners of the mouth). The test determining the diagnosis is peripheral blood count (decreased hemoglobin) and plasma iron.
- Lyme disease - in some cases, chronic fatigue may be the first recorded and the only symptom of this serious disease carried by ticks. At her suspicion belongs perform a serological examination (determination of specific antibodies directed against Borrelia, the bacterium responsible for this disease entity).
- Hodgkin's lymphoma (Hodgkin's disease) - one of the cancer diseases that occurs especially often in the group of pediatric patients (the sixth most common cancer in children under 15 years of age and the third in older patients). In a large number of cases, its only symptoms are chronic fatigue, itching of the skin, low-grade fever and painless enlargement of lymph nodes (nodes are palpable in 60 to 80 percent of patients). The diagnosis of Hodgkin's disease is evidenced by the result of histopathological examination of the enlarged diseased node.
- Leukemia (most often acute lymphoblastic leukemia) - along with lymphomas and brain tumors is the most common cancer in children (leukemia ranks first and accounts for about 28 percent of pediatric cancers). At the initial stage, its symptoms may be limited to chronic fatigue, low-grade fever and excessive sleepiness. Bone marrow examination is required to diagnose it.
- Adenoid pharynx hypertrophy - a disease that disturbs the child's sleep and breathing, resulting in chronic fatigue. Untreated, it leads to constantly recurrent upper respiratory tract infections, and the ENT diagnosis is made after a thorough examination of the child.
- Depression - children suffering from depression may show chronic fatigue, excessive sleepiness or sleep problems, loss of former interests, or lack of feeling happiness from things that previously enjoyed them. The diagnosis of this disease entity is made by a child psychiatrist, who should be visited if such symptoms are observed in his child.
Of course, these are just examples of disease entities that can lead to chronic fatigue in a child.
In summary, so if your child is still tired and this condition persists, despite physical and mental rest, you should urgently go to the doctor with him. A pediatrician after collecting a thorough interview, examining a toddler and performing basic laboratory tests will be able to rule out the most dangerous causes of this condition and instruct parents as to what to do next.