Fatigue, by definition, is a feeling of tiredness accompanied by lack of energy and motivation. Fatigue is a normal response to a strenuous activity, and is normally alleviated by reducing or stopping the activity. We all feel tired sometimes, and that is normal. We may feel fatigue after poor sleep or overwork, and these are relieved by resting or sleeping well. Sometimes the fatigue can be severe, unrelieved by rest and disabling enough to significantly disrupt one’s life and work. Fatigue can be abnormal in terms of both severity and duration. Any fatigue that persists more than 6 months is termed as chronic fatigue. Make sure to check my signs and symptoms of yeast infection as well to see if you have any other signs and symptoms.
What is abnormal fatigue? Why is it caused?
Abnormal fatigue can lead to disinterest in activities and a lack of physical and mental motivation. Abnormal fatigue can be caused by many reasons, some common and some uncommon ones. The doctor takes a detailed history from the person complaining of abnormal fatigue, and carries out a thorough physical examination. Sometimes a battery of laboratory tests is required before a causal condition can be diagnosed. No reason can be found in up to one-third of the cases.
What are the symptoms of abnormal fatigue?
A special kind of chronic fatigue can be caused by a condition known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). CFS is not just fatigue lasting for more than six months, it has specific criteria that has to be fulfilled after all other causes have been ruled out, before a person can be diagnosed with it. Nearly 2% of patients who present with the complaint of fatigue meet the criteria for CFS. An important observation in CFS is the aggravation of fatigue by exercise and the post-exertion fatigue lasting for more than 24 hours. Memory or concentration, or cognitive abilities, are often impaired and the person with CFS may complain of muscle and joint pains. There may be headaches, tender lymph nodes in the neck or armpit or a recurrent sore throat. Research has shown that CFS may be triggered by certain infections like viruses (Epstein-Barr virus, human herpesvirus 6, rubella, etc.) and Candida albicans, a fungus that causes yeast infections.
Connection between Candida and abnormal fatigue:
Other than possibly causing CFS, Candida can contribute to abnormal fatigue in other ways. Recent studies have shown that Candida can overgrow in the large intestine leading to a number of complaints that are difficult to diagnose, leading to what is now termed as chronic yeast syndrome. The Candida overgrowth leads to malabsorption of nutrients and possibly aggravation of an allergic response, and consequently leads to fatigue.
Other diseases which can present with abnormal fatigue:
The common diseases, which may often have fatigue as the only initial symptom include anemia, diabetes mellitus, thyroid disorders, sleep apnea, lung diseases, psychosocial stress (e.g., workplace problems) and depression. There can be less common reasons like hormonal disorders, HIV, liver or kidney disease, psychiatric conditions, cancer, blood disorders, fibromyalgia, drug (medicinal or recreational) induced and autoimmune diseases.
Fatigue must be differentiated from other complaints like drowsiness, muscle weakness and shortness of breath, which are frequently confused with it, although these can coexist with fatigue. If fatigue is accompanied by abdominal or pelvic pain and abnormal bruising, or by shortness of breath and chest pain, or by a severe headache, one should immediately seek emergency medical services. Fatigue with abnormal bruising may be a manifestation of a connective tissue disorder like hypermobility syndrome.
Anemia is a common cause of fatigue, and can be accompanied by dizziness. A young woman with heavy menstrual cycles (prolonged and heavy bleeding with clots) can lose enough blood to lead to severe anemia and will complain of abnormal fatigue. Liver diseases like inflammation of liver or chronic liver failure can lead to severe fatigue, as can chronic kidney failure. People who have low blood pressure, known as hypotension, will often complain of fatigue, which may be exacerbated during exercise, and relieved with rest.
Exercise tolerance tests, or stress tests, can be useful for the diagnosis of heart disease, but can rarely lead to severe generalized fatigue or leg fatigue during or after the test. Poor heart function and circulation can be the culprits in such cases. Often muscle weakness, or the lack of strength for muscle movement, is confused with fatigue, and can be a sign of neuromuscular diseases. A sudden onset weakness of arms or legs can be brought about by a stroke, while a more gradual onset of fatigue and muscle weakness is seen in myasthenia gravis.
In modern culture where physical fitness is both recommended medically and fashionable, a person with abnormal fatigue can feel isolated, depressed and unable to make others understand what they are struggling with. When fatigue can be correlated to lifestyle factors or precipitating activities, there is little cause for worry. However, if the fatigue seems prolonged or abnormal in its severity or is accompanied by other serious symptoms, it is best to seek medical help.