Symptoms Of Lethargy In Children: What Are Its Causes And Treatment

Children are always active and full of vigor and strength. If you find your child to be listless and inactive, there is certainly a cause of concern. Lethargy in children is not normal. Before discussing further let us know what the medical term lethargy means. It’s a feeling of weakness, drowsiness, lack of enthusiasm and a state of decreased energy level.

A lethargic child may have difficulty to remain awake while doing his home work; even in school he is listless and unresponsive. If you meet this child for the first time, you may consider him to be lazy, but parents are the first to detect lethargy in their child.

They are good observers and they detect minute abnormality in their child. Lethargy in children needs prompt medical attention as it can be a symptom of some serious medical illness.

Causes Of Lethargy In Children

Lethargy in children can be due to various causes such as:

  • Fever: in fever the child is always listless and weak. Fever is a symptom of various diseases, it can be just a case of common cold or it can be due to more serious illness such as meningitis.
  • Malnutrition: a malnourished child always feels weak and lethargic. Lack of nutrition causes sharp decline in energy level.
  • Anemia: iron deficiency, poor diet intake are some of the causes of anemia. Anemia leads to lack of oxygen supply to the body cells. These causes decrease level of energy and the child gets tired and sluggish easily.
  • Insufficient sleep: if the child had disturbed sleep at night, he will feel lethargic the next day.
  • Liver disease, brain related diseases such as meningitis are some other causes for lethargy in children.
  • Obesity is also a cause for child to be lethargic and listless.

Lethargic Children Symptoms

You can make out a lethargic child from a distance. He appears drowsy and sleepy. This is the hallmark symptom of lethargy.

Some other common symptoms are:

  • The child is indifferent to his surroundings.
  • He does not move around and play with his friends or with toys.
  • His ability to comprehend things is very slow. He may find difficulty in understanding a simple question.
  • Low energy level makes him easily fatigued. He appears physically drained.
  • He responds very late to any mental or physical activity.
  • He feels constipated, meaning his bowels also become listless and inactive due to lethargy.
  • The child cannot stay awake for long time at home or even in his school.

Treatment For Lethargy In Children

  • Since there are many reasons for lethargy in children, it is necessary to consult a pediatrician.
  • If the cause is found to be a medical illness, the doctor will treat the illness and after few days the child becomes active as before.
  • If the cause is anemia, the doctor may prescribe him iron supplements to correct the deficiency. Besides this you should give your child diet rich in iron and vitamin C. Green leafy vegetable, lean meat, fish, spinach are rich source of iron.  Vitamin C is present in fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C enhances absorption of iron from the intestine.
  • A malnourished child requires extra protein diet. The doctor may prescribe protein supplements. He should be given protein containing foods such as cereals, pulses, egg, meat, etc.
  • Make sure the child eats nutritious food and avoid giving him fast foods.
  • The child should drink milk before going to school and at night before he goes to sleep.
  • Make the child to sleep early at night so that he gets enough sleep.
  • Sometime the child becomes lethargic when he is overly taxed and burdened in school. In such cases make his schooling activities more relaxed and less burdensome.