Waking up a kid for school is rarely easy. But you know your child well. And you can spot the difference between not wanting to get up for school and a chronically fatigued child. If you think your child is battling fatigue, talking to your pediatrician is important. But being prepared for that conversation is just as important.
Why the Root Cause of Fatigue Matters
Fatigue itself is not a condition, illness or disease. As a symptom, it can help clinicians identify the root cause of an illness. Knowing the root cause may not only lead to treating the symptoms, but it can determine whether preventive action could be taken to mitigate further health issues.
Epstein-Barr Virus in Kids
An often-overlooked cause of fatigue, particularly in children and teens, is Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). A member of the herpes family, EBV is one of the most common viruses in the world. In fact, a whopping 90 percent of adults would test positive for the presence of antibodies, indicating a past or current infection.
EBV is typically contracted by children initially, although the virus doesn’t often have any symptoms. If EBV does show symptoms, they may not be distinguishable from other mild illnesses such as the common cold. Once you contract EBV, it remains in your system for the rest of your life, though usually latent (inactive). EBV can, however, cause other illnesses or reactivate.
Fatigue in Kids and Teens
One of the most common illnesses caused by EBV is mononucleosis (mono), which is also called the “kissing disease” because it can be transmitted through saliva. Some symptoms of mono include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Sore throat
- Swollen tonsils
- Enlarged spleen
Mono and EBV are often diagnosed through the collective symptoms, though both illnesses can be confirmed through a blood test. The symptoms can last anywhere from two to four weeks, though the fatigue can linger for months. While seemingly innocuous when inactive, an active bout of the virus is highly contagious and can be transmitted through the exchange of saliva, including personal items such as sharing a toothbrush or eating utensils. It can also be shared through other bodily fluids, such as blood and semen.
Treating EBV or Mono
Because EBV is a virus, it will not respond to antibiotics. EBV and mono will naturally run their courses. But there are ways to manage the symptoms caused by the virus.
- Use over-the-counter pain medications to control headaches or sore throats.
- Get plenty of rest to combat the fatigue
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water
- Avoid contact sports or heavy lifting
Understanding Future Health Concerns
Though substantially less common, EBV can lead to or increase the likelihood of other illnesses. (This is yet another reason why understanding the cause of the fatigue is so important!) These other illnesses include:
- Ruptured spleen
- Nervous system disorders, including meningitis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome and encephalitis
- Autoimmune disorders
- Mutations that can increase the chance of certain cancers. (Only 1.5 percent of cancers worldwide are linked to EBV.)
Boosting Immunity in the Fight Against EBV-Caused Fatigue
While you may not be able to prevent EBV, you can boost your child’s overall well-being by using a balanced multivitamin such as Children’s Optimal Brain and Body. Advocating for your child’s health is an important aspect of parenting. Work with your child’s pediatrician to determine underlying causes, as well as how to treat symptoms.
At BIPRI, we are proud to be a part of the wellness team for you and your whole family. For a limited time, purchase a subscription to any of our products and receive 15 percent off, plus a 15-minute consult with our Clinic Director.