Fatigue: Meaning, Symptoms, and Treatment


Medically reviewed by

Bajaj Finserv Health

General Health

7 min read

Key Takeaways

  • Fatigue can be relieved by reducing the activity, mental or physical, that caused it.
  • There may be other emotional, mental and physical symptoms to it.
  • Fatigue treatment relies solely on addressing the cause and that is exactly what a specialist will target.

From time to time, you may find yourself feeling lethargic, unexplainably drowsy, or experiencing tiredness. This feeling can mistakenly be thought of as fatigue when, in fact, fatigue is a medical condition that has other serious symptoms linked to it. What is the meaning of fatigue? Simply put, it is the lack of motivation and energy with regards to both the mental and physical aspects of normal function. It can affect almost anyone, at any age, and the reasons for fatigue span a variety of factors, a common one being lifestyle choices.

In some cases, the fix is usually fairly simple to arrive at if the cause is known. For more complicated underlying health conditions, specialised medical care may be needed for fatigue treatment. An example of the latter is the chronic fatigue syndrome, which is an illness that is more than just chronic fatigue. Meaning that the treatment involves everything from lifestyle changes and home remedies to medical diagnosis and assistance.

Given how common fatigue can be, being informed about it is immensely beneficial and this involves a deeper understanding than just a general fatigue definition. Here is a breakdown of the different fatigue symptoms and their causes, alongside key treatment-related pointers.

What is Fatigue?

A practical fatigue definition is that it is a symptom that arises in response to physical or mental activity, resulting in an overall lack of motivation and energy. In most cases, fatigue can be relieved by reducing the activity, mental or physical, that caused it. However, there are times when it persists, and you may start experiencing symptoms beyond those of tiredness or lethargy. It is often confused with drowsiness, but it is important to note that these both symptoms can occur at the same time and are different from each other. This distinction is made by a healthcare professional, considering all the factors that may serve as the reasons for fatigue.

Generally, there are 2 types of fatigue, physical and mental. With the former, the afflicted may find it particularly difficult to undertake physical activities and feel great strain when performing them. With the latter, concentration and focus is affected, resulting in lowered productivity and increased drowsiness, especially when doing work that is mentally demanding.

Fatigue Causes

As it is a symptom and not a disease in itself, there are numerous fatigue causes, encompassing physical and mental health issues. Good examples include improper bodyweight, both being underweight or overweight, and daily activity levels. With the former, being overweight can cause complications like sleep apnoea, of which a common symptom is fatigue. Similarly, being underweight can cause you to tire easily, which can also result in fatigue. With the latter, intense mental activity over a prolonged period results in tiredness, even in healthy individuals.

These are just a few examples, and to highlight the rest, here is a categorised list offered by Medical News Today.


Metabolic and endocrine health conditions

  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Hormonal contraception
  • Kidney disease
  • Thyroid condition
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Electrolyte imbalance

Lung and heart conditions

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Valvular heart disease
  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • Arrhythmias
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Medical conditions

  • High blood pressure
  • Systemic lupus
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Heart disease
  • Anaemia
  • Cancer
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Obesity
  • Flu
  • HIV
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Malaria
  • Hepatitis
  • Tuberculosis

Drugs, chemicals, substances, and medication

  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Steroids
  • Caffeine
  • Sedatives
  • Statins
  • Anxiety medication
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Antihypertensives

Mental health conditions

  • Anxiety
  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Stress
  • Grief
  • Eating disorders
  • Boredom

Sleep-related health conditions

  • Jet lag
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Insomnia
  • Narcolepsy
  • Reflux esophagitis
  • Fatigue symptoms

Typically, the main fatigue symptom is exhaustion accompanied by you not feeling refreshed or fully rested even after sleeping or reducing the activity that caused the tiredness. Besides this, there are may be other emotional, mental and physical symptoms, which can be as follows.

  • Headache
  • Slowed response time
  • Blurry vision
  • Sore, achy muscles
  • Impaired concentration and ability to learn new tasks
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Apathy or lack of motivation
  • Abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, or diarrhoea.

Symptoms of Fatigue

There are many possible symptoms of fatigue. They can include physical symptoms like feeling weak or having no energy, mental symptoms can include trouble concentrating or making decisions, and emotional symptoms can include irritability or feeling rundown. Fatigue is different from simply being tired. Tiredness is a normal response to physical or mental activity. It goes away after you rest or sleep. Fatigue is more severe and lasts longer, making it hard to do your usual activities.

Diagnosis of Fatigue

There are several different ways to diagnose fatigue. The most common method is simply asking the person how they feel. Other methods include:

  • Taking a physical examination
  • Looking at the person's medical history
  • Conducting tests to check for underlying medical conditions

It can be a symptom of many medical conditions, so it is important to get a proper diagnosis.

There are several different ways to diagnose fatigue. The most common method is simply asking the person how they feel. Other methods include taking a physical examination, looking at the person's medical history, and conducting tests to check for underlying medical conditions. Fatigue can be a symptom of many different medical conditions, so it is important to get a proper diagnosis.

Your doctor will look for a few key things when diagnosing fatigue. First, they'll ask about your symptoms and when they began. They'll also want to know if you've been under any extra stress or have changed your diet or sleep habits. Your doctor will also likely order some blood tests. These can help check for anaemia or thyroid problems, which can cause fatigue. If your blood tests return normal, your doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist. In addition, they can help determine if you have a sleep disorder, like insomnia or sleep apnea, which could be causing your fatigue. There are many possible causes of fatigue, so you must see a doctor if you feel excessively tired. With some testing, they can help determine the underlying cause and get you on the road to feeling better.

Fatigue Treatment

Its treatment relies solely on addressing the cause and that is exactly what a specialist will target. Generally, this is what you can expect as fatigue treatment measures.

Incorporating daily or regular exercise into your schedule

Exercise is one of the best ways to combat fatigue. It helps to improve your overall fitness and energy levels. Even moderate exercise can make a big difference.

Setting in place a regular sleeping pattern

This may seem like an obvious solution, but it's often the most effective. If you're not getting enough sleep, your body will experience more fatigue. Make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

Practising good sleep hygiene

Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, and avoiding screen time before sleeping is also advised to maintain proper sleep hygiene.

Avoiding stressors

Stress can contribute to fatigue. If you're feeling stressed, try to find ways to relax and manage your stress levels. This may include exercise, meditation, or therapy.

Eating healthy

Eating a nutritious diet is important for overall health and can help improve energy levels. Make sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein in your diet.

Performing relaxing activities such as meditation

Practicing relaxing activities like yoga and meditation will help eliminate anxiety, depression, etc. This helps you sleep better, and as a result, you feel less fatigued.

Staying hydrated

Just like proper eating habits, staying hydrated also affects your health. Good health will allow you to sleep better.

Limit caffeine: Caffeine can help to improve energy levels in the short term, but it can also lead to fatigue if you have too much. Limit your caffeine intake to no more than 400 mg per day.

Get help from a doctor

If you're still struggling with fatigue, it's important to talk to a doctor. They can help to identify any underlying medical conditions and develop a treatment plan.

When it comes to fatigue, the worst thing to do is ignore the early signs and expect them to pass by without any help. In most cases, you will need to intervene with small changes such as tweaks to your routine, while in others, you may need medical care. Given that you may need professional help, the best approach here is to take away the guess work and seek healthcare at the earliest. This gives you the best chance at making a speedy recovery and helps you avoid extreme fatigue and the other health complications. Thankfully, with an affordable healthcare platform provided by Bajaj Finserv Health, availing such healthcare is a quick, easy, and simple task.

You can access a whole suite of telemedicine benefits - right from the ability to find specialists in your area to booking appointments online and opting for virtual video consultations, you truly have access to digital healthcare. What’s more, this platform also has an in-built ‘Health Vault’ feature that allows you to track your vitals, maintain digital patient records, and digitally transfer these crucial bits of information to healthcare specialists. This makes remote healthcare that much more effective and accessible, particularly for fatigue treatment. It's time to take the right step towards a healthier lifestyle!

Published on 24 Nov 2020Last updated on 16 Dec 2022

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.


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