Fatigue: definition, causes, symptoms and treatment


Fatigue is often described as a lack of energy and motivation, both physical and emotional. This is in contrast to drowsiness or drowsiness, which describe the need for sleep. Fatigue is also a reaction to physical and mental activity. Fatigue can usually be alleviated with rest or reduction of activity. Fatigue is a common complaint associated with health problems. It should be noted that this is a symptom and not a specific disease or health condition. Many illnesses cause fatigue, and the symptoms can be physical, psychological, or a combination of both.

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According to a 2019 report from Biological Research for Nursing, fatigue can be defined as "overwhelming, debilitating and persistent" exhaustion that makes it difficult to perform activities and functions. Family physicians report that at least 20% of their patients report fatigue and up to 35% of adolescents report fatigue that occurs at least four days a week .

Men and women describe fatigue differently. For example, men may report that they feel tired, while women may report that their tiredness feels anxious or depressed. People can also describe tiredness using a variety of terms, including feeling exhausted, tired, lethargic, or overwhelmed.

People with fatigue experience one or more of the three main complaints. They vary from person to person. Are:

  • Lack of motivation or ability to start activities.
  • Easy to tire
  • Mental fatigue, concentration or memory problems.

Fatigue is often a gradual symptom, meaning it starts to develop slowly and gets worse over time. Most people who experience fatigue may not immediately realize how much energy they are losing. They can only determine this when they are trying to compare your ability to complete tasks in the same time frame.

Also, they may think that fatigue is a common symptom due to aging, busyness or overwork, lack of sleep, or a combination of all of these factors, and ignore this symptom.

Do not ignore fatigue or delay seeking medical attention to determine the source of your fatigue. Your healthcare provider can help you determine the cause and improve your quality of life.

Common symptoms

While fatigue is a symptom of some underlying condition, it can still cause a combination of mental and physical symptoms, including:

  • Soft spot
  • Lack of energy
  • Constant tiredness or exhaustion
  • Lack of motivation
  • Concentration problems
  • Difficulty starting and completing tasks.

Additional symptoms

Fatigue is not usually the only symptom. This is often accompanied by other symptoms that can help your healthcare provider determine the cause or causes of your fatigue.

Additional symptoms that can accompany fatigue include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscular weakness
  • Slow reflexes and reactions
  • Impaired judgment and decision making.
  • Mood, including irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Impaired hand-eye coordination (the ability to perform activities that require the use of both hands, such as writing or driving)
  • Decreased function of the immune system.
  • Attention problems and poor concentration.
  • Memory problems
  • Blurry vision

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Fatigue is considered chronic if the feeling of exhaustion or lack of energy lasts for six months or more. Whatever the cause, chronic fatigue affects a person's daily functioning and quality of life.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is diagnosed if a person has experienced persistent, chronic fatigue for six months or more without a known cause, which does not improve with sleep or rest and is aggravated by physical or mental activity .

Symptoms of CFS can affect different parts of the body and can include unrepentant sleep, muscle or joint weakness, memory and concentration problems, and headaches. Symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe, come and go, or last for weeks or months. They can appear gradually or suddenly.


There are many potential causes of fatigue. Fatigue is a possible symptom of most diseases.

Normal fatigue, that is, tiredness resulting from physical or mental exertion, is not uncommon. However, normal fatigue can become abnormal if it becomes chronic (prolonged) or severe.

The causes of chronic and severe fatigue can range from medical stress to lifestyle (both work stress and emotional problems).


Medical causes of fatigue can cause constant exhaustion with additional symptoms. There are a number of conditions that cause fatigue. If you experience prolonged periods of fatigue, speak with your doctor to determine the root cause.

The medical causes of fatigue can be classified into broad categories of diseases. Some of these categories of diseases are:

  • Metabolic / Endocrine : Conditions such as anemia, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, liver or kidney disease.
  • Infections : flu, tuberculosis or malaria.
  • Cardiac (heart) and pulmonary (lung) : congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), arrhythmias, and asthma.
  • Mental health : depression and anxiety
  • Sleep problems : sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome.
  • Vitamin deficiency: vitamin D deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, or iron deficiency.
  • Other conditions : cancer and rheumatic / autoimmune diseases.
  • Medicines you take to treat other conditions can also cause fatigue. These can include antidepressants and anxiety medications, sedatives, some blood pressure medications, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and steroids.


Lifestyle reasons are often related to sleep disorders, diet, lack of regular exercise, alcohol or drug use, or other factors.

Sleep disturbances : If you don't get enough sleep, sleep too much, or wake up at night, you may experience fatigue during the day.

Diet – If you eat a lot of carbohydrate, fat or instant foods, sugary foods and drinks, or caffeinated beverages, you are not providing your body with enough fuel or nutrients to function better. What's more, these foods can cause a burst of energy that passes quickly, causing a "crash" and increased fatigue.

Alcohol and drugs . Alcohol is a depressant that slows down the nervous system and disrupts sleep. Cigarettes and caffeine stimulate the nervous system and cause trouble falling asleep and sleeping.

Lack of regular activity – Physical activity is known to improve your health and well-being, reduce stress, and increase energy levels. It will also help you sleep better and reduce daytime fatigue.

Individual factors : personal or family illness or injury, too much commitment, and financial problems can make a person feel tired.


The causes of stress can be related to a stressful work environment, toxic relationships, or mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

Work- related fatigue : People who work night shifts may experience fatigue during the day. This is because the human body is designed to sleep at night and the person working the night shift disrupts their body's circadian clock. Improper workplace practices such as long hours, manual labor, overtime, noisy workplaces, constant concentration, and repetitive tasks also contribute to fatigue. Burnout and other stressors in the workplace, such as a heavy workload, conflict with a boss or co-workers, workplace bullying, or threats to job safety, can all contribute to fatigue.

Mental health : Depression, anxiety, and pain can lead to fatigue. These conditions drain the body physically and emotionally and cause severe fatigue.


Fatigue manifests itself in a number of symptoms and is often caused by a combination of several factors. This makes diagnosis difficult. Therefore, your healthcare provider will try to determine the cause of your fatigue through a series of tests, including the following.

Medical history : Your healthcare provider will ask you about recent stressful events (good and bad) in your life, such as having a baby, surgery, job stress and family problems, or other symptoms you have experienced in addition to fatigue.

Physical exam : A physical exam will help your doctor detect signs of illness. Your healthcare professional may also ask you about your current diet and lifestyle.

Tests : Tests may include blood tests, urinalysis, X-rays, and other images. Your healthcare provider will want to rule out physical causes.

When to contact a healthcare provider

You should consult your doctor if you feel tired:

  • It appears suddenly and is not the result of normal short-term physical or mental stress.
  • It is not relieved by rest, sleep, or stress management.
  • Has become severe or chronic
  • It is accompanied by other unexplained symptoms.
  • Associated with weakness, fainting, or near fainting
  • It is accompanied by unexplained weight loss, lumps or lumps anywhere on the body, fever (greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit) , abnormal vaginal bleeding, and / or unexplained pain anywhere on the body.

Signs of a medical emergency

Go to the emergency room at your local hospital if you experience the following symptoms, with or without fatigue:

  • Fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bleeding (such as vomiting blood or rectal bleeding)
  • Severe pain in the abdomen, pelvis, or back.
  • Strong headache
  • Irregular or fast heart rate

Watch out

Treatment for fatigue depends on the cause. Some treatments for conditions that cause fatigue include medications, vitamins, diet, exercise, and quitting bad habits, such as smoking, drug use, or heavy alcohol use.

Fortunately, many causes of fatigue can be treated. For example, anemia can be treated with iron supplements, sleep apnea can be treated with medications and CPAP machines, medications can maintain blood sugar and blood pressure, antibiotics can treat infections, and vitamins can regulate blood pressure. vitamin deficiencies.

There are also several ways to reduce fatigue caused by daily activities and improve energy levels and overall health. This includes:

  • Keep hydrated
  • Eating healthy food
  • Exercise regularly
  • Sleep a little
  • Avoid known stressors
  • Avoid overly stressful work and social hours
  • Relaxation practice like yoga.

Lifestyle changes can help reduce fatigue, but it is also important to follow your healthcare provider's treatment plan for any diagnosed medical conditions. If left untreated, fatigue can negatively affect your physical and mental health.

Get the word of drug information

The prognosis for fatigue is generally good because many of the causes are easily treatable. However, the outlook varies depending on the cause, underlying conditions, and your overall health.

While you can cope with fatigue, you probably can't prevent many of its causes. Therefore, it is important to understand when fatigue is a problem in order to seek proper medical attention and a quick diagnosis.

Sometimes fatigue is a gradual symptom and is difficult to understand. If family and friends call your attention to your gradual decline in your ability to be as active as before, don't ignore this information; tell your doctor. Self-awareness of progressive deterioration in health is sometimes overlooked because people make small adjustments to compensate and therefore may miss the development of problems.

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