Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Young and Tired

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Ask the Doc


Query from Mrs KT Lim

My 12-year-old daughter has a fatigue issue. She feels lethargic all the time and requires more than 10 hours, at times 14 hours, of rest. She is not overweight and does not snore when she sleeps, so I have ruled out poor-quality sleep. When she was less than eight months old, she rolled and fell from the bed. Most girls her age have reached, or are reaching, puberty, but she has yet to experience any changes. I wonder if these factors are causing her to be tired all the time. Or, could she be suffering from some underlying medical problems?

Reply by Dr Chan Poh Chong
Head and Senior Consultant, Division of Ambulatory and Adolesc ent Paediatrics,
University Children’s Medical Institute, National University Hospital

The fall she had when she was eight months old is unlikely to have caused her current symptoms. And a proportion of young girls start puberty only when they are 12 to 14 years of age. Obesity and poor-quality sleep caused by an obstructed airway can also contribute to lethargy and tiredness, but in her case, it is less likely.

Other causes of prolonged fatigue and tiredness could be anaemia, either from blood loss or decreased production, or poor dietary intake; infections — some, such as dengue, can cause prolonged lethargy and tiredness; hormonal problems, such as hypothyroidism or diabetes mellitus; chronic illnesses, such as kidney or liver diseases; lack of exercise or excessive physical exertion.

Stresses in balancing school work, CCAs and social/recreational activities could also lead to anxiety, depression, withdrawal from social contact and, consequently, chronic fatigue.

Sometimes, there may be no underlying cause found after extensive investigations, and a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, which could inflict a child for a prolonged period of time, may be offered.

Consult a doctor to ensure that any underlying medical problem is excluded and appropriate lifestyle changes instituted to get the child back to her normal, healthy state. Think a balanced diet with sufficient fruits and vegetables, regular and appropriate exercises, and a conducive school and home environment for mental and social well-being.

The information provided above is for your general knowledge only. You should seek medical advice or treatment for your condition. Email questions to health@newstoday.com.sg.

From TODAY, Health -  Tuesday, 23-March-2010