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Health Information For Parents
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:
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.
There’s a long list of possible symptoms that someone with
fatigue syndrome can have. The most common ones include:
Scientists have been researching chronic fatigue syndrome for many years, but they still aren’t sure what causes it.
Many doctors believe that the way some conditions interact in the body and mind might leave some people at risk for CFS. For example, if someone has a
and is under a lot of stress, this combination might make them more likely to develop CFS.
Experts think that these things interact this way, putting some people at risk for chronic fatigue syndrome:
Chronic fatigue syndrome can affect people of all ethnicities and ages, but is most common in people in their forties or fifties. It’s very rare in kids. A few teens do get CFS, and it affects more girls than guys.
Sometimes different people in the same family get CFS. This may be because the tendency to develop CFS is genetic.
Right now, there’s no test to tell if someone has chronic fatigue syndrome. Doctors ask a lot of questions about things like:
and the health of family members
They also will do an 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.
Because kids and teens often feel tired for many reasons, CFS can be a misused or abused diagnosis. Kids sometimes use being tired as a way to avoid school or other activities. Many teens are active in different sports, which can make them tired. For these reasons, doctors are careful when making a diagnosis of CFS.
There’s no known cure for chronic fatigue syndrome. But experts say that these lifestyle changes can help kids and teens who have it:
Meeting often with a therapist or counselor can help in CFS treatment. So can getting involved in a support group for people with CFS. The main goals of therapy are:
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 and teens with CFS to miss school, have poor grades, or withdraw from friends and social situations.
Doctors may suggest over-the-counter or prescription medicines for some of these symptoms.
To help your child cope with the emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome:
Having chronic fatigue syndrome can be hard. But for most people, the symptoms are most severe in the beginning. Later, they may come and go. Teens with CFS generally get better faster and recover more completely than adults do. Most teens 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.
CFS is a misunderstood illness. But scientists continue to learn about it through research and clinical trials. They’re trying to better understand its symptoms and causes in kids and teens.
Good medical care and coping techniques are the keys to helping your child manage chronic fatigue syndrome. It can also help to find support sites and groups, such as:
Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes pain in a person’s muscles, joints, and other soft tissues. Find out how doctors tell if a person has fibromyalgia and what can be done to treat it.
Lupus is known as an autoimmune disease in which a person’s immune system mistakenly works against the body’s own tissues.
A person with SAD typically experiences symptoms of depression as winter approaches and daylight hours become shorter.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that affects some people and appears at the same time each year.
It’s sometimes called “the kissing disease,” but kissing is just one of the ways that someone can catch mono.
Mononucleosis – or “mono” – is an infection that causes flu-like symptoms. It usually goes away on its own in a few weeks with the help of plenty of fluids and rest.
Being a kid doesn’t always mean being carefree – even the youngest tots worry. Find out what stresses kids out and how to help them cope.
When life throws problems your way, learn how to stay calm, de-stress, and solve problems.
There’s good stress and bad stress. Find out what’s what and learn practical ways to cope in this article.
Visit our stress and coping center for advice on how to handle stress, including different stressful situations.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disease for doctors to diagnose â and even fully understand. Find out more about this often misunderstood condition.
Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the U.S. If you think your child is depressed, you’ll want to learn more about what depression is, what causes it, and what you can do to help.
Anemia happens when there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells in the body. It can be caused by many things, including dietary problems, medical treatments, and inherited conditions.
Headaches affect kids as well as adults. Learn about common causes and when to talk to a doctor.
A sleep study (or polysomnogram) helps doctors diagnose sleep problems. It is an overnight test that can record a variety of body functions while a child sleeps.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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