28 May 2014

Causes and medical conditions associated with fatigue

Fatigue is a common symptom that many of us experience in day to day life, but this may not be due to underlying disease. Certain factors associated with fatigue are 'normal' - and they are not due to medical problem which include fatigue due to 
  • Physical exertion
  • Emotional stress
  • Boredome 
  • Disturbed sleep
But certain people are more prone to fatigue
Predisposing factors
  • Female sex
  • Law socioeconomic status
  • Physical and mental illness
  • Personal habits and life style that increases fatigue
    (a) Staying up too late
    (b) Excessive caffeine intake
    (c) Excessive alcohol intake
    (d) Consumption of junk food
Precipitating factors
  • Acute physical stresses - Infection with Epstein-Barr virus ( glandular fever).
  • Psychological stresses - Bereavement, stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Social stresses - Work problems.
  • Physiological - Pregnancy, breastfeeding, inadequate rest or sleep, and excessive exercise.
Perpetuating factors
  • Physical inactivity
  • Emotional disorders
  • Ongoing psychological or social stresses
  • Disturbed sleep.
Diagnoses associated with fatigue
Only less than 10% of people presenting with fatigue has an underlying medical condition. There are variety of causes associated with fatigue, so detailed evaluation of individual circumstance by a doctor is important.

Medical conditions associated with fatigue
  • General - Anemia, chronic infection, autoimmune disease, cancer
  • Endocrine disease - Diabetes, hypothyroidism, hypoadrenalism
  • Sleep disorders - Obstructive sleep apnoea and other sleep disorders
  • Neurological - Myositis, multiple sclerosis
  • Gastrointestinal - Liver disease
  • Cardiovascular - Chronic heart disease
  • Respiratory - Chronic lung disease
  • Obesity
Lack of sleep may be associated with fibromyalgia which present with widespread body pain and fatigue.

Psychiatric diagnoses associated with fatigue.
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and panic disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance misuse disorders
  • Somatisation disorder

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