What is lethargy?


Lethargy is not a symptom of any particular medical condition. Rather, it can be a symptom of various diseases and health conditions. This can be a normal reaction to factors like lack of sleep, stress, or poor nutrition.

When lethargy develops as a reaction to various life situations, it resolves with rest, more frequent sleep , and adequate nutrition and activity. However, in the case of illness, lethargy can last for days, weeks, or even months. Learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for lethargy.

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Lethargy is described as relentless exhaustion that includes chronic fatigue, lack of energy, and lethargy. Lethargic people may also experience:

  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Slight violation of surveillance
  • Cognitive difficulties (forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating)
  • Severe drowsiness

Other symptoms that can accompany lethargy include:

  • Pain that does not go away despite treatment.
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Inflammation of the eyes
  • Chronic fatigue that lasts for more than two weeks.
  • Swollen cervical glands
  • Unexplained weight changes
  • You often feel sad, empty, or irritable

Lethargic people can act as if they are overwhelmed. They may not move as fast as usual and they may know that they are in poor health.

Lethargy can be severe enough to affect consciousness. This can cause severe drowsiness; the person may still be alert, but then falls asleep or sleepy.


Lethargy has several causes. This can be the body's response to lack of sleep, overexertion, stress, lack of activity, or poor diet. It can also be a side effect of medications or the body's reaction to alcohol. Drinking alcohol while taking medicine can also make a person feel lethargic.

Lethargy is a symptom of many acute (sudden) conditions, including influenza, stomach viruses, fever, dehydration, and nutritional deficiencies. Other serious conditions that cause lethargy can include, but are not limited to:

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Hyperthyroidism (overproduction of thyroid hormone)
  • Hypothyroidism (insufficient thyroid hormone production)
  • Hydrocephalus (swelling of the brain) or brain injury
  • Renal insufficiency
  • Meningitis
  • Career
  • Pituitary gland disease (caused by too much or too little pituitary hormone)
  • Adrenal disease and anemia (due to iron deficiency)
  • Most autoimmune diseases

Lethargy is also a sign of psychological disorders, including major depression and postpartum depression.

Seeking medical attention

Lethargy is rarely a medical emergency. However, it can become so if it is accompanied by other serious symptoms. It is important to seek immediate medical attention and call 911 if you experience sudden loss of energy, severe dizziness, chest pain, confusion, blurred vision, high fever, or sudden and severe swelling.

Other serious symptoms that require medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cardiopalmus
  • Altered consciousness
  • Severe pain
  • Speak slurred
  • Facial nerve palsy
  • Inability to move arms and legs.
  • Strong headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

Significant changes in lethargic behavior are worrisome and may require medical attention. Seek emergency medical attention if lethargy causes thoughts of self-harm.

If lethargy is not a medical emergency, it may be necessary to see a doctor to determine the cause and other symptoms.

Lethargy can also affect children and babies. Symptoms that require medical attention in young children and infants include difficulty waking up or being lightheaded, weakness, fever greater than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, dehydration (including decreased tearing, dry mouth, and decreased urine output), rash, and vomiting


The first step in determining the cause of lethargy is to see a doctor or, if necessary, get immediate medical attention. Your doctor will try to determine the cause of your lethargy and other symptoms. Diagnostic tests, including blood tests, urinalysis, and imaging, may be required.

Once the cause of lethargy has been established, treatment can be started or referred to a specialist. Your healthcare provider may also recommend seeing a specialist if the cause of your lethargy and other symptoms cannot be determined. The treatment and prognosis of lethargy will depend on the underlying cause.

If the lethargy is caused by emotional or physical stress or exhaustion, no treatment is required. This is often fixed by maintaining hydration, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and managing stress.

Watch out

Of course, there are times when lethargy requires treatment, especially when it is accompanied by other very serious symptoms. In these cases, treatment is aimed at addressing the root cause of the lethargy.

For example, treatment for lethargy caused by dehydration consists of improving intravenous fluid and / or electrolyte intake. Hyperthyroidism treatment can treat symptoms of lethargy with antithyroid drugs, radioactive iodine, and beta-blockers.

Fatigue can be a side effect of some medications used to treat lethargy, but over time, the side effects go away and the symptoms of lethargy should go away as well.

Additional examples of treatment for lethargy include:

  • Inflammation-related lethargy: Treatment includes treating inflammation with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and corticosteroids.
  • Lethargy associated with depression: This can be cured by purchasing depressive symptoms, including the use of antidepressants.
  • Cancer-related lethargy: Healthcare providers may prescribe stimulant medications such as Provigil (Modafinil) for short periods of time. Also, Provigil can improve wakefulness. If sleep problems are causing lethargy, prescription sleeping pills may also be prescribed.

Healthy habits can also help you cope with fatigue related to lethargy. This includes dehydration, eating healthy foods, reducing stress, being active, and getting enough sleep.

Get the word of drug information

Lethargy is not usually a medical emergency, but it can be a sign of a serious illness. Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. After determining the cause of your lethargy, it is important to follow your doctor's prescribed treatment plan to feel better and reduce the risk of possible complications.

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