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Causes of Extreme Fatigue in Children

Authored by Katharine Foust in Child and Teen Health
Published on 10-03-2009

Of all the causes of extreme fatigue in children, diet is probably the most common one. Children who have very little protein in their diet or who suffer from health problems may be afflicted with extreme fatigue. The list of medical disorders that cause extreme fatigue is long and numerous.

Extreme fatigue is characterized by an excessive need for sleep or rest. Though any child will get tired from time to time due to lack of sleep on the previous day, normal childhood illness or after extreme exercise, it is not normal for a child to be excessively tired on a regular basis. Keep in mind that the child may not even want to sleep, but may simply be physically exhausted.

The first thing that should be done is to change the diet to include proteins and vitamins. An excess of “empty carbs” is a common cause of fatigue in children. If the diet has been changed and the child is getting enough rest in the evening, then it’s time to seek medical attention. It may even be the case that the child is simply not absorbing enough vitamins, even if the child is eating the proper nutrients. Be sure to request a complete blood panel to be sure that all the vitamin levels are in the recommended range.

Depression is another common cause of extreme fatigue in children. Again, this can be due to a number of things including, but not limited to diet and proper sleeping habits. In fact, most illnesses can be attributed to lack of good nutrition. This doesn’t mean that parents are not feeding their children well, though there is a current trend for fast food that is made up of more chemicals than it is nutrition. The fact is that some people simply process foods differently than others and may have difficulty absorbing nutrients.

Of course, there are actual diseases and disorders that can cause extreme fatigue in children. These diseases tend to involve the lungs or the heart. The bottom line is that the body needs oxygen and proper circulation in order to function properly. A lack of oxygen can certainly cause fatigue as well as a lack of proper circulation.

All too often we run for medication to help ease our physical and mental distresses. If one is eating and sleeping properly, then there may be a need for medication, but it should be a last resort, not a first one. That’s why the first thing that should be assessed is the diet. Make sure diet and exercise are where they should be and proper sleep habits should follow. If extreme fatigue persists, then the child should be taken to the doctor for a complete blood panel and physical. Once these things have been done, the doctor can then begin narrowing down the causes of extreme fatigue. These are important steps to recognize and take in order to define the exact cause of extreme fatigue in children.

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