Fatigue conditions in teenagers ~ A Naturopathic approach

It’s common for teenagers to feel tired at times, and it’s certainly normal for them to require gargantuan sleep-ins and have a whip-sharp attitude, but what if they’re really tired all the time? What if their vitality cannot manage a full school load, regular exercise and a modest social life without falling into a heap or being frequently sick? If that’s the case, it’s a warning sign that should be investigated.  It’d like to share with you some insight into what may be behind such presentations and what you can do about it.

Unremitting fatigue in teenagers is more common than you may realise.  The stress of CoVID has been particularly hard on this demographic.  But fatigue can be mysterious and elusive. It is often accompanied with multiple symptoms involving multiple systems: insomnia, chronic stress, frequent illness, depression, anxiety, chronic pain and digestive issues.  The picture can be complex and overwhelming, and difficult to grasp if the teen is monosyllabic.  As a parent, what can be more concerning than seeing your beautiful son or daughter struggling to get through the day when they should be firing on all cylinders? 

As parents, we understand the importance of the teenage years being a gateway into adult life: self-confidence, great relationships, tertiary learning and career development. These all stem from our teenage experience and how that influences the way we push out into the world as an adult.  But if your teenager is suffering constant fatigue, poor immunity and a general lack of get up and go, what then?  Of course you may have taken them to the GP, run some bloods and maybe tried a multivitamin.  But what do you do if they’re still struggling?  The answer is to delve deeper and look at their health with an holistic lens. 

Sometimes stepping back and taking a broad look can illuminate the path forward.

Naturopathic medicine is brilliant in this sphere as we have the luxury of lengthy consultations to tease out what is really going on. Casting a wide net can be useful, reviewing the function of key body systems and asking specific questions to establish possible internal/external causes.  Is it stress (physical, mental or emotional), diet related, or linked to dysfunction in some other body system? Could it be an underlying infection, environmental driver or nutritional deficiency?  Astute observation, examination skills and the ability to order functional pathology tests allows Naturopaths the ability to gather highly individualised information. 

An astute clinician can identify patterns of disharmony, both internal and external and once a diagnosis is made can map out a treatment plan to correct the issue and treat the cause/s.   

For example, fatigue may be the problem and the diet might be poor but if it is related to chronic gut issues like dysbiosis, parasitic infections, leaky gut or food sensitivities, then correcting these issues and the physiological processes that drive them will allow the digestive system to function as intended.  The appetite returns, nutrient absorption improves and your sparkly child emerges from the fog.  In so many cases I have seen a systematic approach such as this work wonders, and quite quickly too.  But the approach must address the cause/s and resolve the imbalances where they lie.  With a large array of high strength TGA approved natural medicines at our disposal your Naturopath can tailor a highly specific prescription to treat the whole teenager in a targeted and highly effective manner.  Returning their energy, vitality, enthusiasm and attitude. Now what parent doesn’t want that for their teen?  

TJ Howden ND BHSc

 

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