Fatigue

Find a symptom by its first letter

Definition

Nearly everyone is overtired or overworked from time to time. Such instances of temporary fatigue usually have an identifiable cause and a likely remedy.

Unrelenting exhaustion, on the other hand, lasts longer, is more profound and isn’t relieved by rest. It’s a nearly constant state of weariness that develops over time and reduces your energy, motivation and concentration. Fatigue at this level impacts your emotional and psychological well-being, too.

Causes

Most of the time fatigue can be traced to one or more of your habits or routines, particularly lack of exercise. It’s also commonly related to depression. On occasion, fatigue is a symptom of other underlying conditions that require medical treatment.

Lifestyle factors

Taking an honest inventory of things that might be responsible for your fatigue is often the first step toward relief. Fatigue may be related to:

  • Use of alcohol or drugs
  • Excess physical activity
  • Jet lag
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Lack of sleep
  • Medications, such as antihistamines, cough medicines
  • Unhealthy eating habits

Conditions

Unrelenting exhaustion may be a sign of a condition or an effect of the drugs or therapies used to treat it, such as:

  • Acute liver failure
  • Anemia
  • Anxiety
  • Cancer
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chronic infection or inflammation
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Concussion
  • COPD
  • Depression (major depressive disorder)
  • Diabetes
  • Emphysema
  • Meralgia paresthetica
  • Grief
  • Heart disease
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Medications and treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, pain drugs, heart drugs and antidepressants
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Obesity
  • Pain that’s persistent
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stress
  • Traumatic brain injury

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