The Prevalence of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Among Adolescents
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) causes extreme fatigue that restricts normal daily tasks and is widespread among many adults. It's hard to determine the exact cause, but it is diagnosed by ruling out other factors of the ongoing fatigue and other symptoms.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Children and the Symptoms
Chronic fatigue syndrome in young adults is present, but somewhat rare. It is often called chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) when referring to adolescents with chronic fatigue. Symptoms include:
- Serious overall fatigue.
- Problems neurologically, which cause a number of other problems.
- Dizziness or light-headed feeling.
- Chills, fever, and/or rash.
Differences Between CFS and CFIDS
There is a difference in the explanation of the symptoms of CFS/CFIDS in adults and children. Often, a communication barrier is the main problem in discerning a proper diagnosis. Adults are better able to explain their symptoms/feelings, especially when it comes to memory loss. Memory loss is also a characteristic to CFIDS but it is most often associated with problems at school and retaining new information for children. Children are not as able to explain memory loss as adults.
Many times CFIDS can be misdiagnosed due to the symptoms that accompany it. It may be more difficult for a child to explain all of the feelings and symptoms they are experiencing. Many doctors or pediatricians may think that a child is having signs of emotional disorders when first hearing of the symptoms a child is exhibiting.
How Does It Begin in Children?
For most children, the signs and symptoms of CFIDS quickly develop, bringing a series of symptoms all at once. Younger children have a slower, more gradual onset of symptoms than older children. CFIDS mostly occurs in the teen years for many adolescents. An adolescent might report that they are more frequently tired, their muscles ache, throat hurts, and the whole body feels weak. Sometimes these feelings can follow an illness, such as the flu.
Can It Really Be CFIDS?
Some research suggests that children and adolescents are often misdiagnosed with CFIDS, which has led to a lot of skepticism. Often times, the adolescents could be disguising their symptoms as CFIDS if one or more of the parents have a chronic illness or disease (sometimes CFS). The child sees the way the adult acts and mimics their behavior.
The child may also have issues psychologically with school. If a child is having trouble with school or with classmates, they may try to avoid school by using CFIDS as an excuse.
Yet another reason for children to feign CFIDS is that they may use it as a way to stop their parents from fighting. The longer the child is "ill," the less the parents will fight. This isn't meant to discredit the condition, as there are thousands of children who legitimately suffer from CFIDS. It's merely intended to caution parents, teachers, and doctors to reevaluate the situation.
Alaina Abplanalp Photography