Fatigue

Fatigue is different from drowsiness. Fatigue is a lack of energy and motivation. Drowsiness and apathy (a feeling of not caring about what happens) can be symptoms that go along with fatigue.

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Fatigue can be a normal and important response to physical activity, emotional stress, boredom, or lack of sleep. Fatigue is a common symptom, and it is usually not due to a serious disease. But it can be a sign of a more serious mental or physical condition. When fatigue is not relieved by enough sleep, good nutrition, or a low-stress environment, it should be evaluated by your doctor.

 

Highlights

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a condition in which symptoms of fatigue persist for at least 6 months and do not resolve with rest. The fatigue may be worsened with physical activity or mental stress. It is diagnosed based on the presence of a specific group of symptoms and after all other possible causes of fatigue are ruled out.

 

Causes

There are many possible causes of fatigue, including:
  • Anemia (including iron deficiency anemia)
  • Depression or grief
  • Iron deficiency (without anemia)
  • Medicines such as sedatives or antidepressants
  • Persistent pain
  • Sleep disorders such as insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, or narcolepsy
  • Thyroid gland that is underactive or overactive
  • Use of alcohol or drugs such as cocaine or narcotics, especially with regular use
Fatigue can also occur with the following illnesses:
  • Addison disease
  • Anorexia nervosa or other eating disorders
  • Arthritis, including juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • Autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Cancer
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Diabetes
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Infection, especially one that takes a long time to recover from or treat, such as bacterial endocarditis (infection of the heart muscle or valves), parasitic infections, hepatitis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) AIDS, tuberculosis, and mononucleosis
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Malnutrition

Certain medicines may also cause drowsiness or fatigue, including antihistamines for allergies, blood pressure medicines, sleeping pills, steroids, and diuretics.

 

Treatment

HOME CARE

Here are some tips for reducing fatigue:
  • Get enough sleep each night.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Learn better ways to relax. Try yoga or meditation.
  • Maintain a reasonable work and personal schedule.
  • Change or reduce your stressors, if possible. For example, take a vacation or resolve relationship problems.
  • Take a multivitamin. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you.
  • Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and drug use.
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