Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Adolescents

Does your teenager often look excessively tired during the day? They may be suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. Find out what this condition is!
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Adolescents

Last update: 07 November, 2020

According to general practitioner Brenda Cubillo Badilla, up to 70% of teenagers admit to feeling too sleepy and excessively tired throughout the day. This can be due to multiple reasons. Among them we have a condition called chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or systemic exertion intolerance disease.

In these cases, it’s important to identify the syndrome promptly because, the sooner it’s detected, the sooner treatment can begin. In this way, you’ll avoid the worsening of symptoms and problems that can occur with this disease.

For this reason, in the following article, we’ll explain what chronic fatigue syndrome in adolescents consists of and also what its main characteristics are.

Chronic fatigue syndrome in adolescents

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a serious and complex disease that’s characterized by the presence of an intense, frequent, and also disabling tiredness.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Adolescents

In adults, this syndrome usually occurs, especially in women, between the ages of 40 and 50. Nevertheless, it can appear at any time of life, but its appearance is more frequent during adolescence than in childhood.

Diagnostic criteria

To diagnose this condition, according to the International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Study Group, the person must show the following symptoms:

  • Chronic, persistent or intermittent fatigue (for at least six months), which has no apparent explanation and isn’t relieved by rest. This adversely affects a person’s functioning during the day and how they carry out their daily activities.
  • It can’t be explained by the presence of other diseases that can cause chronic fatigue.

We should note that, in children and adolescents, it isn’t necessary for them to have suffered from fatigue for six months; three months would be enough. Also, four or more of the following symptoms must be evident:

  • Concentration or memory disorders
  • A recurrent sore throat
  • Painful cervical or axillary adenopathies, that is, swelling of the lymph nodes in one of these parts of the body
  • Constant muscle pain
  • Pain in the joints, with no signs of inflammation
  • A recent onset of headaches, or headaches that are different to the usual ones
  • Feeling unrested after sleep
  • Feelings of discomfort 24 hours after a physical or mental effort.

Treatment of the disease and prognosis in adolescence

Currently, there’s no specific remedy to treat chronic fatigue syndrome. However, there are treatments and resources that can control and decrease the severity of symptoms caused by the disease, such as:

  • Congenital-behavioral psychotherapy
  • Pharmacological treatment
  • Carrying out gradual physical exercise
  • The acquisition of suitable habits for good sleep hygiene
  • Support groups
  • Treatment for orthostatic imbalance
  • Treatment for pain
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Adolescents

With these types of treatments, adjusted to the needs and characteristics of the patients, adolescents who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome usually recover, partially or totally. This can take an average of four or five years after the appearance of the first symptoms. In fact, they tend to recover much better and faster than adults.

The effects of the syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome can affect a person very negatively and significantly in their day-to-day lives. In the case of adolescents, this can have devastating consequences for academic performance and social relationships, two very important aspects in this time of development. This can lead to recurring feelings of anger, guilt, anxiety, loneliness and abandonment.

Unfortunately, in spite of the seriousness of this disease, it’s still a syndrome that few people are aware of today. Although, having said that, there is a growing awareness and sensitivity about it. Many scientists are researching this topic, in order to provide a better quality of life for people who have this condition.

So, now that you’ve learned more about chronic fatigue syndrome, do you think your teenager may be suffering from it? If so, we recommend that you go with them to the doctor immediately to check if this is the case, and, if necessary, start appropriate treatment.


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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.