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Fatigue - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

Fatigue is the lack of motivation or energy (both mental and physical). Fatigue is different from drowsiness (the urge to sleep). Usually fatigue and drowsiness is diagnosed by a healthcare professional as it can be difficult to tell the difference between drowsiness and fatigue. It is usually difficult for the patient to describe fatigue it is characterized by feelings of exhaustion, lethargy and tiredness. Sometimes, fatigue can also be an underlying symptom of a much fatal disorder such as various sleep disorders, hear diseases, COPD, thyroid diseases, diabetes and anemia. In severe cases, fatigue can also result to Chronic fatigue syndrome.

Fatigue is not a disease, it is a symptom. It can either be psychological or physical.

Primary complaints of individuals experiencing fatigue:

  • Lack of ability or motivation to begin any activity.
  • The person gets tired easily once the activity has started.
  • The Individual experiences difficulty concentration or mental fatigue to start or finish an activity.

What causes fatigue?

  • Metabolic/Endocrine- Diseases like Cushing’s disease, liver disease, kidney disease, electrolyte abnormalities, diabetes, hypothyroidism and anemia can cause fatigue.
  • Infections- Many infections such as malaria, influenza (flu), HIV infection, cytomegalovirus, tuberculosis, hepatitis and infectious mononucleosis contributes to fatigue.
  • Heart and lung diseases- A lot of pulmonary and cardiac disorders such as pneumonia, asthma, COPD, valvular heart disease, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure are also leading causes of fatigue.
  • Medications- Some medicines like blood pressure medicines, steroids, antistamines, drug withdrawal medicines and antidepressants can also give rise to fatigue.
  • Vitamin deficiencies- Certain inadequacy of vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron and folic acid can cause fatigue.
  • Psychiatric health- Bereavement, grief, alcohol abuse and depression can also cause fatigue.
  • Other issues- Illnesses such as fibromyalgia, systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and rheumatology contributes to fatigue. Sometimes radiation therapy and chemotherapy can also cause excessive fatigue.


Sometimes, fatigue can be serious and should be diagnosed as soon as possible. The doctor or the healthcare professional usually includes tests like CBC (complete blood count test), electrolytes test, blood sugar test (electrolytes test), thyroid hormone, CPK (illnesses which cause muscle inflammation), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG), CT scans and X-rays.

How is fatigue treated?

Since fatigue is a sign of an underlying disorder, the treatment usually depends on the condition which causes fatigue. The disorder can be psychological, physical or a combination of both.

Usually self diagnosable Lab test not required Non communicable
Chronic tiredness Headache Dizziness Aching muscles Moodiness Impaired decision

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