Fatigue also referred exhaustion, tiredness, lethargy, languidness, languor, lassitude, and listlessness describes a physical and/or mental state of being tired and weak. Unlike weakness, fatigue can be alleviated by periods of rest. Fatigue can have physical or mental causes.
Physical fatigue is the transient inability of a muscle to maintain optimal physical performance, and is made more severe by intense physical exercise.
Psychological (mental) Fatigue
Mental fatigue is a transient decrease in maximal cognitive performance resulting from prolonged periods of cognitive activity. It can manifest as somnolence, lethargy, or directed attention fatigue.
Most Common Causes of Fatigue
1. Cardiac Problems
If you have problems with the heart, such as coronary artery disease or heart failure, the ability of the heart to supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle and the rest of the body will be impaired. This may result in poor exercise tolerance and fatigue.
A sudden change in your exercise tolerance can be an early sign of heart problems such as coronary artery disease. Approximately one third of patients with underlying heart disease have no signs or symptoms (such as chest pain or myocardial infarction). The first sign of any underlying problem in this one third is sudden death. Therefore, it is imperative that you seek further evaluation if you are noticing increased fatigue that is not easily explained.
A decrease in the amount of oxygen-carrying substance (hemoglobin) found in red blood cells (anemia). This may occur from blood loss related to intestinal bleeding, menstruation, and trauma. Chronic blood loss can result in iron deficiency which is required for the body to maintain appropriate hemoglobin levels required to carry oxygen. Nutritional deficiencies such as Vitamin B12 and folate can also result in anemia.
3. Kidney and Liver Abnormalities
Patients with kidney disease and liver disease have impaired ability to eliminate the waste products of the body. If the level of these chemicals get too high the patient will begin to experience weakness and fatigue.
4. Metabolic Disorders
Patients with metabolic disorders, such as diabetes, have impaired ability to utilize sugar (glucose) which is required to form energy for the body and organs.
5 Thyroid Abnormalities
Abnormalities of the thryoid gland may result in fatigue. It is important to determine if your thyroid gland is performing appropriately. If your gland is underactive you will require thyroid medication to restore your bodies normal levels. This will improve your energy and help with fatigue.
Fatigue may be related to an overactive or high thyroid level (hyperthyroidism). An overactive thyroid requires further evaluation. You may require radioactive ablation to destroy the overactive thyroid tissue. Other options include medication to control the symptoms caused by an overactive thyroid or medication to block the effects of the excess thyroid hormone in your body.
6. Mental Health Problems
Mental health problems can result in fatigue. Patients suffering from anxiety and depression will frequently complain of fatigue. This is an important consideration if no medical explanation for fatigue can be found. Anxiety and depression can also develop in someone with other chronic health problems, so it is important that a thorough evaluation be performed by your health care provider.
7. Chronic Fatigue
Chronic fatigue syndrome is an uncommon cause of severe, persistent fatigue. It is commonly associated with a previous viral infection such as epstein barr virus.