Teens with chronic fatigue pay big toll
Tue, 19 Apr 2011 11:55:06 GMT
Although chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) rarely occurs in adolescents, it would make the affected ones pay a heavy toll, including long school absence.
A new Dutch survey showed that CFS occurs in just 1 in every 900 teenagers. Though, more than 90 percent of the affected teens would at least miss "considerable" number of school days; many of them even do not attend school during the time.
CFS, not directly caused by other conditions, is a debilitating condition of prolonged and severe tiredness or weariness (fatigue) that is not relieved by rest. The condition, which affects concentration, memory and sleep, is characterized by extreme fatigue that may worsen with physical or mental activity.
The exact cause of the syndrome is unknown. Some researchers, however, believe a virus, such as Epstein-Barr virus or human herpes virus-6 (HHV-6) to be responsible for CFS. However, till today no specific virus has been identified as the cause.
According to the results published in Pediatrics, 111 out of every 100,000 teens, or 0.11 percent, were diagnosed with CFS. The condition affected girls five times more than boys.
Patients were, on average, 15 years old when the condition began and half of them had been experiencing the symptoms for at least 17 months before being diagnosed with the disease. In one-fifth of them, the illness began after a severe infection.
Researchers say CFS seems to be "under-recognized" by primary care physicians. As only half of all general practitioners who agreed to participate in the study accepted CFS as a distinct diagnosis.
Moreover, about 75 percent of the CFS sufferers were not diagnosed by their general practitioners. This lack of awareness probably stems from the uncommonness of the condition, said lead author Sanne Nijhof of the University Medical Center Utrecht.
Scientists suggested that more future studies should focus on chronic fatigue syndrome in adolescents. They also urged general doctors, parents and school officials to consider severe and long-lasting fatigue in teens as CFS and subsequently refer them to a pediatrician for further evaluation.