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What to Do When a Child Is Always Tired

By Sandy Schroeder

Reading a child’s tiredness can be tricky. Gradually you learn what tired really means. It may be the end of a long day, or the start of something new that they do not want to do. Or the child could be sick and need to rest. Or there may be other things going on that signal problems.

HarvardHealth’s Claire McCarthy, MD, gives us some of those signals.

Waking up during the night - A child may be a light sleeper, or worried about something. See your pediatrician. If it persists to check for sleep disorders.

Asthma - Tiredness may be nonstop for children with chronic illness such as asthma. Getting it under control with the right sleeping environment and medication can make a night and day difference.

Gasping for breath - Sleep apnea with breathing gasps can be triggered by adenoids or enlarged tonsils that ruin sleep.

Anemic symptoms - Fatigue happens when there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s cells.

Late nights - Parties, homework, or too much excitement may be exhausting. Children need 8-10 hours of sleep every night.

Prescriptions - Medication side effects, including ones for allergies, can make a child drowsy and tired. Check with the doctor or pharmacist for potential side effects.

Anxiety, depression - Like adults, children can feel life is so difficult that they can’t do routine things like school, sports or calls to friends.

Thyroid symptoms - The body’s metabolism can slow down, creating tiredness when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.

Long-running infections - Epstein-Barr virus and others can last for weeks or months.

Heart issues - A weak heart can create tiredness, but this is rare in children.

Diseases such as cancer - This is rare for children but one of the early symptoms is often tiredness.

What to Do Next

Dr. McCarthy says, “If your child complains of feeling tired all the time for more than a week or two, you should make an appointment with your doctor to do these things:

  • Complete a physical including growth, weight and physical abnormality checks
  • Take a careful history of the fatigue and related symptoms, reviewing what is happening in the child’s life
  • Complete any needed tests for urine, blood or imaging
  • Refer to a psychologist or counselor if needed

Most of the time the fatigue is treatable and not serious, according to Dr. McCarthy, but the fastest way to be sure is to see the doctor.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Roseville, Minn.

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