Fatigue is a medical condition that is also referred to as exhaustion, lethargy, or listlessness. It is characterized by extreme exhaustion that follows exertion. Symptoms can range from a general state of lethargy to a specific exertion induced burning of the muscles. Fatigue is considered a medical symptom and could be the result of a number of medical conditions or the result of exhaustion or exertion be it physical or mental.
Physical fatigue can be described as muscle weakness and results in the inability to exert force with ones muscles. Strength tests are conducted to determine muscle weakness and the underlying causes. Muscle weakness can be present in a particular muscle group or there can be centralized muscle weakness which indicates widespread exhaustion. Tests should be run to determine if there are underlying causes to the exhaustion or if it is the result of overexertion.
Mental fatigue can also be present and often manifests as increased somnolence and a decreased sense of attention. It is often described as a decreased level of consciousness. This can be dangerous when there needs to be high levels of concentration involved such as operating heavy machinery or driving. People who experience this form of fatigue often experience microsleeps which are actually brief losses of consciousness.
The causes of this condition are various and can result from working, mental stress, overstimulation or understimulation, jet lag, sports activity or depression. There may be chemical causes as well. Poisoning or vitamin or mineral deficiency can contribute to the condition. The condition may also be temporary due to viruses like the common cold or influenza and will disappear once the illness has run its course. Chronic fatigue, however, can be a serious medical condition all on its own or can be indicative of several underlying medical diseases that need to be addressed.
In cases of a chronic condition, symptoms last for six months or more in duration. The symptoms can be tied to a number of conditions including anemia, anxiety disorder, depression, diabetes, leukemia or lymphoma, muscular dystrophy, physical trauma, sleep deprivation and other sleep disorders. If you experience symptoms for more than six months, it is time to visit a doctor to get a proper evaluation to rule out any serious underlying disease and to develop a treatment plan.
Fatigue is common and has many causes. It’s important if you are experiencing it to consult a medical professional if it is ongoing and interfering with your daily function of life. You don’t have to suffer with this condition. There are many treatment options available and its best to discuss them with your doctor rather than suffer in silence.