Lethargy - Treating Underlying Conditions

Lethargy - Treating Underlying Conditions


Lethargy Symptoms 

Lethargy is a common symptom that is experienced by most individuals at some point or another. It can be described as a general feeling of tiredness, fatigue, weariness, or lack of energy. In some instances, it is accompanied by other symptoms like decreased motivation, depression, or apathy. It often occurs as a completely natural result of lack of sleep, stress, overexertion, or boredom. When it does not subside with adequate rest, good nutrition, and decreased stress, however, it may be a sign of an underlying condition that requires medical attention.


Causes of Lethargy

There are numerous potential causes for feelings of lethargy. Some, like allergies or sleep disorders, are relatively mild, while others, like cancer or heart disease, are potentially life-threatening. Other possible causes of lethargy include asthma, anemia, depression, eating disorders, thyroid problems, infection, or chronic pain. Cancer treatments, some medications, drugs, and alcohol can cause feelings of chronic lethargy as well.


Diagnosing the Cause of Lethargy

Doctors are often able to determine the cause of lethargy based on its pattern and any additional symptoms the patient may be experiencing. As a result, patients should be prepared to provide detailed explanations of how they are feeling when the lethargy occurs, and any symptoms that seem to coincide with lethargic feelings. When a doctor cannot determine the caused based solely on the patient's symptoms, additional diagnostic testing may be necessary. Blood and urine tests are often utilized to detect deficiencies or hormone imbalances. Other tests may be performed depending upon the suspected cause. In some cases, patients may be referred to specialists for diagnosis or treatment.


Treatment Options

The treatments for lethargy vary greatly and are based on treating the underlying condition rather than just relieving the symptom. When sleep disorders or inadequate rest is the cause, lifestyle changes or prescription medications may solve the problem. Heart or lung problems may require medications or, in some cases, surgical intervention. When lethargy occurs as a symptom of depression or chronic fatigue syndrome, patients may benefit from psychological counseling.


When to See a Doctor

Lethargy typically is not a life-threatening concern in itself. In most cases, it is caused by minor underlying conditions. In limited cases, however, it can occur as the result of serious health problems. Whether the underlying condition is severe or not, lethargy can have a major impact on one's day to day life. It can have a negative effect on one's social life and work performance. As a result, it should be evaluated by a doctor.

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