Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms in young people with post-COVID syndrome.

When describing their fatigue, people suffering from post-COVID say that their bodies feel as if they have been drained of energy (asthenia), they have difficulty going to school, feel little initiative and are exhausted after the slightest exertion.

It is important when discussing post-COVID fatigue to talk about and look for post-exertional malaise. Post-exertional malaise is the reproduction of symptoms and feelings of fatigue after even the slightest effort (mental or physical).

Patients with post-COVID fatigue often describe waking up tired and needing to sleep during the day, even when they have not had insomnia. The level of fatigue can fluctuate during the day, and changes in energy levels can be triggered by physical exertion or, in some people, by hormones, insomnia, stress, anxiety and other factors. In contrast, in people suffering from depression, activity usually causes the level of fatigue to decrease.

A sleep assessment is essential in the evaluation of fatigue and can be carried out by your paediatrician or primary care physician.

Moreover, your primary care physician should go through the relevant symptoms and rule out other causes of fatigue through a clinical evaluation and laboratory tests

How is it treated ? 

There is no medication to treat post-COVID fatigue if there are no identifiable causes, such as a vitamin deficiency. The goal of the care provided is to lessen the impact of the symptoms and to allow the individual to preserve their energy levels. 

Regular follow-up is recommended for individuals suffering from post-COVID fatigue. Their daily routine should be adjusted to allow them to focus on everyday activities and avoid exhausting their daily energy reserves. Physical therapy can be helpful in avoiding deconditioning but should be balanced out with pacing and preserving energy levels. A psychiatric evaluation to identify underlying causes of the fatigue and to manage its impact on the individual’s daily life can also be helpful. Regular follow-up is recommended for people suffering from post-COVID fatigue.

Different exercises can help to improve fatigue management : 

What about school and vocational training ?

A return to school – gradual if necessary – provides an opportunity for the young person both to adjust to and to manage the impact of the symptoms. Patients who tire very easily should be offered a reduced workload and increase their activity levels only as appropriate.  They should be allowed enough time to stabilize their energy levels at each new activity level before moving to the next level of effort needed for social, professional or other activities.

Interdisciplinary care is recommended.

As with other illnesses characterized by fatigue, a mind-body approach (working on the body and mind at the same time) is helpful in treating the symptoms. Relaxation techniques, exercises for vagal nerve stimulation (cold showers, abdominal breathing, etc.) or meditation can be effective. Tai chi, pilates and yoga can also teach people to manage their symptoms in certain situations.