By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

msBahasa Malaysia

Know the basics

What is fatigue?

Fatigue is a condition that you always feel of tiredness or a lack of energy. Other words that are used in place of fatigue include exhaustion, weariness, and lethargy.

How common is fatigue?

Fatigue is a very common complaint and it is important to remember that is a symptom, not a disease. Many illnesses can result in the complaint of fatigue and they can be physical, psychological, or a combination of the two.

It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of fatigue?

There may be other associated symptoms depending on the underlying cause.

  • Individuals with heart disease, lung disease, or anemia may complain of associated shortness of breath or tire easily with minimal activity.
  • Persons with diabetes may feel polyuria (excess urination), polydipsia (excess thirst), or change of vision.
  • Those who have hypothyroidism may also have symptoms of feeling cold, dry skin and brittle hair.

Other associated symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Weight loss;
  • Chest pain and shortness of breath;
  • Vomiting and diarrhea;
  • Fevers and chills;
  • Muscle weakness or pain;
  • Anxiety and depression.

In case fatigue does not treat well, it could lead to some possible complications, such as:

  • Depression;
  • Social isolation;
  • Lifestyle restrictions;
  • Increased work absences.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

Get someone to take you to an emergency room or urgent care if fatigue is accompanied by:

  • Abnormal bleeding, including bleeding from your rectum or vomiting blood;
  • A severe headache.


Know the causes

What are the causes of fatigue?

There are many potential causes of fatigue, which can be divided into three group: lifestyle factors, medical issues, and mental health issues.

Lifestyle factors

If you are experiencing fatigue, your activities, and other lifestyle choices may be the root cause. Fatigue can be caused by:

  • Physical activity and excessive physical exertion;
  • Lack of activity;
  • Lack of sleep;
  • Being bored;
  • Being overweight or obese;
  • Periods of emotional stress;
  • Grief;
  • Taking certain medications;
  • Using alcohol on a regular basis;
  • Using street drugs;
  • Using narcotics;
  • Consuming caffeine;
  • Not eating a proper and nutritious diet.

Medical issues

Some medical issues and conditions that can lead to fatigue are:

  • Anemia;
  • Pain;
  • Addison’s disease (a disorder affecting your hormone levels);
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid);
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid);
  • Arthritis;
  • Insomnia and other sleeping disorders;
  • Eating disorders;
  • Autoimmune disorders;
  • Fibromyalgia;
  • Congestive heart failure;
  • Cancer;
  • Diabetes;
  • Kidney or liver disease;
  • Infection;
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome;
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (or COPD, which makes it difficult to breathe);
  • Emphysema;
  • Restless legs syndrome.

Mental health issues

Those who struggle with anxiety and depression may experience fatigue as a symptom of their condition.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for fatigue?

Factors that may increase your risk of fatigue include:

  • People in their 40s and 50s;
  • Women;
  • Stress.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is fatigue diagnosed?

To diagnose fatigue, the doctor usually recommends a full physical examination to look for some underlying signs of illness. The examination with evaluation of the different systems of the body combine any abnormal findings with the clues found in the history taking may help make the diagnosis.

Special attention may be taken to palpate for an abnormal thyroid gland, swollen lymph nodes, listen for abnormal heart sounds including murmurs and to check for normal muscle tone and reflexes.

Depending on the findings in the history and physical examination, blood tests, and other imaging studies may be ordered.

How is fatigue treated?

Since fatigue is a symptom of an underlying condition, the treatment depends on the cause, regardless of whether it is physical, psychological or a combination of the two.

There may be a lag time between when the illness has been treated and the intensity of fatigue symptoms; some symptoms may resolve as soon as the underlying condition is treated.


Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage fatigue?

More importantly, the early recognition of fatigue will allow a person to seek medical care and potentially have an earlier diagnosis of the underlying cause.

Sometimes, symptoms like fatigue arise gradually and it is difficult for the person to realize that there is a problem. It may take an outside perspective from a friend or family member to appreciate a difference in function. Self-awareness of gradual decline in body performance is often difficult as a person makes repeated small accommodations to complete daily activities.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: September 27, 2016 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019

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