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6/11/2019 Fatigue: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment & More


Causes of Fatigue and How to Manage It

Medically reviewed by Elaine K. Luo, MD on May 2, 2019 Recently Updated — Written by
Krista O'Connell

Causes When to see a doctor Treatment Lifestyle changes

Fatigue is a term used to describe an overall feeling of tiredness or lack of
energy. It isn’t the same as simply feeling drowsy or sleepy. When you’re
fatigued, you have no motivation and no energy. Being sleepy may be a
symptom of fatigue, but it’s not the same thing.

Fatigue is a common symptom of many medical conditions that range in

severity from mild to serious. It’s also a natural result of some lifestyle
choices, such as lack of exercise or poor diet.

If your fatigue doesn’t resolve with proper rest and nutrition, or you
suspect it’s caused by an underlying physical or mental health condition,
see your doctor. They can help diagnose the cause of your fatigue and
work with you to treat it.

What causes fatigue?

There are many Apotential causes
DVERTISEMEN T of fatigue. They can be divided into
three general categories:

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6/11/2019 Fatigue: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment & More

lifestyle factors

physical health conditions

mental health issues

Lifestyle factors

If you’re experiencing fatigue, your activities and other lifestyle choices

may be the root cause. For example, fatigue can result from:

physical exertion

lack of physical activity

lack of sleep

being overweight or obese

periods of emotional stress

taking certain medications, such as antidepressants or sedatives

using alcohol on a regular basis

using illicit drugs, such as cocaine

consuming too much caffeine

not eating a nutritious diet

Physical health conditions

Many medical conditions can also cause fatigue. Examples include:


chronic fatigue syndrome

infections, such as cold and flu

Addison’s disease, a disorder that can affect your hormone levels

hypothyroidism, 
A D V E R T I or
S E Munderactive
ENT thyroid
hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid

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6/11/2019 Fatigue: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment & More

sleep disorders, such as insomnia

eating disorders, such as anorexia

autoimmune disorders
congestive heart failure


kidney disease
liver disease

chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)


Mental health issues

Mental health conditions can also lead to fatigue. For example, fatigue is a
common symptom of anxiety, depression, and seasonal affective disorder.

When is it time to see your doctor?

You should make an appointment with your doctor if you’re feeling
fatigued and you:

can’t think of anything that might account for your fatigue

have a higher-than-normal body temperature

have experienced unexplained weight loss

feel very sensitive to colder temperatures

regularly have trouble falling or staying asleep

believe you may be depressed

If you’ve made efforts to address the most common lifestyle causes, such
as lack of rest, poor eating habits, and stress, without success, and your
fatigue has continued for two weeks or more, make an appointment with
your doctor.

In some cases, your fatigue might be caused by a serious medical

condition. Go to the hospital immediately if you experience fatigue along
with any of the following symptoms:

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6/11/2019 Fatigue: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment & More

rectal bleeding

vomiting blood

severe headache
pain in your chest area

feelings of faintness

irregular heartbeat

shortness of breath
severe pain in your abdominal, back, or pelvic region

thoughts of suicide or self-harm

thoughts of harming another person



Get Answers from a Doctor in Minutes,

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How will your doctor treat fatigue?


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6/11/2019 Fatigue: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment & More

Your doctor’s recommended treatment plan will depend on what’s

causing your fatigue. To make a diagnosis, they will likely ask you
questions about:

the nature of your fatigue, including when it started and whether it

gets better or worse at certain times

other symptoms that you’ve been experiencing

other medical conditions that you have

your lifestyle and sources of stress

medications that you’re taking

If your doctor suspects you have an underlying medical condition that’s

causing your fatigue, they may order some medical tests. For example,
they may order blood or urine tests.

What are some lifestyle changes that can help

reduce fatigue?
A number of measures can help lessen fatigue caused by daily activities.
To help boost your energy levels and overall health:

drink enough fluids to stay hydrated

practice healthy eating habits

exercise on a regular basis

get enough sleep

avoid known stressors

avoid a work or social schedule that’s overly demanding

take part in relaxing activities, such as yoga

abstain from alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit drugs

These lifestyle changes may help ease your fatigue. It’s also important to
follow your doctor’s recommended treatment plan for any diagnosed
health conditions. If left untreated, fatigue can take a toll on your physical
and emotional well-being.

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