Definition


Nearly everyone is overtired or overworked from time to time. Such instances of temporary fatigue usually have an identifiable cause and a likely remedy.

Unrelenting exhaustion, on the other hand, lasts longer, is more profound and isn't relieved by rest. It's a nearly constant state of weariness that develops over time and reduces your energy, motivation and concentration. Fatigue at this level impacts your emotional and psychological well-being, too.

Causes


Most of the time fatigue can be traced to one or more of your habits or routines, particularly lack of exercise. It's also commonly related to depression. On occasion, fatigue is a symptom of other underlying conditions that require medical treatment.

Lifestyle factors

Taking an honest inventory of things that might be responsible for your fatigue is often the first step toward relief. Fatigue may be related to:

  1. Alcohol or drug use
  2. Excess physical activity
  3. Jet lag disorder
  4. Lack of physical activity
  5. Medications, such as antihistamines, cough medicines
  6. Not enough sleep
  7. Unhealthy eating habits

Conditions

Unrelenting exhaustion may be a sign of a condition or an effect of the drugs or therapies used to treat it, such as:

  1. Acute liver failure
  2. Anemia
  3. Anxiety disorders
  4. Cancer
  5. Chronic fatigue syndrome
  6. Chronic infection or inflammation
  7. Chronic kidney disease
  8. Concussion
  9. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) exacerbation — worsening of symptoms
  10. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  11. Depression (major depressive disorder)
  12. Diabetes
  13. Emphysema
  14. Fibromyalgia
  15. Grief
  16. Heart disease
  17. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  18. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  19. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  20. Medications and treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, pain drugs, heart drugs and antidepressants
  21. Multiple sclerosis
  22. Obesity
  23. Pain that's persistent
  24. Sleep apnea
  25. Stress
  26. Traumatic brain injury

When to see a doctor


Call 911 or your local emergency number

Get emergency help if your fatigue is related to a mental health problem and your symptoms also include:

  • Thoughts of harming yourself or of suicide
  • Concern that you may harm someone else

Also get emergency care if your fatigue is accompanied by any of the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Feeling that you might pass out
  • Severe abdominal, pelvic or back pain

Seek immediate medical attention

Get someone to take you to an emergency room or urgent care if fatigue is accompanied by:

  • Abnormal bleeding, including bleeding from your rectum or vomiting blood
  • Severe headache

Schedule a doctor's visit

Call for an appointment with your doctor if your fatigue has persisted for two or more weeks despite making an effort to rest, reduce stress, choose a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids.


Acromegaly

Acute kidney failure

Acute lymphocytic leukemia

Acute myelogenous leukemia

Acute sinusitis

Addison's disease

Alcoholic hepatitis

Amyloidosis

Anaphylaxis

Anemia

Angina

Anorexia nervosa

Anthrax

Anxiety disorders

Aortic valve regurgitation

Aortic valve stenosis

Aplastic anemia

ARDS

Arteriovenous fistula

Ascariasis

Aspergillosis

Atrial septal defect (ASD)

Atrioventricular canal defect

Autoimmune hepatitis

Bipolar disorder

Blastocystis hominis

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Bradycardia

Bronchitis

Brucellosis

Brugada syndrome

Cancer

Cardiomyopathy

Castleman disease

Celiac disease

Chagas disease

Chemo brain

Cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer)

Cholera

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic kidney disease

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Chronic myelogenous leukemia

Chronic sinusitis

Churg-Strauss syndrome

Cirrhosis

Colon cancer

Common cold

Concussion

Crohn's disease

Cushing syndrome

Cyclospora infection

Cyclothymia (cyclothymic disorder)

Depression (major depressive disorder)

Dermatomyositis

Diabetes

Diabetes affects how your body uses blood sugar. Too much blood sugar over long periods can cause serious health problems, but treatments are available.

Diabetic coma

Diabetic ketoacidosis

Dilated cardiomyopathy

Dumping syndrome

Ebstein anomaly

Encephalitis

Endocarditis

Endometriosis

Enlarged liver

Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly)

Esophageal cancer

Ewing sarcoma

Fibromyalgia

Gaucher disease

Generalized anxiety disorder

Giardia infection (giardiasis)

Glomerulonephritis

Grand mal seizure

Granulomatosis with polyangiitis

Graves' disease

H1N1 flu (swine flu)

Hairy cell leukemia

Hangovers

Hashimoto's disease

Heart arrhythmia

Heart attack

Heart disease

Heart failure

Heat exhaustion

Hemochromatosis

Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)

Hemophilia

Hepatitis A

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Hiatal hernia

Hirschsprung's disease

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Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Hyponatremia

Hypoparathyroidism

Hypopituitarism

Hypothermia

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Influenza (flu)

Insomnia

Iron deficiency anemia

Jet lag disorder

Kidney cancer

Lead poisoning

Legionnaires' disease

Leukemia

Liver cancer

Long QT syndrome

Low blood pressure (hypotension)

Lupus

Lyme disease

Male hypogonadism

Membranous nephropathy

Menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding)

Mental illness

Mitral valve prolapse

Mitral valve regurgitation

Mitral valve stenosis

Mixed connective tissue disease

Mononucleosis

Multiple myeloma

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Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)

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Myelodysplastic syndromes

Myelofibrosis

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Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Parvovirus infection

Pectus excavatum

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Pericarditis

Peritonitis

Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)

Persistent post-concussive symptoms (Post-concussion syndrome)

Plague

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Polio

One of the most feared diseases of the 20th century, polio has been eradicated from the developed world but remains a threat in less developed nations.

Polycythemia vera

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Polymyositis

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Postpartum thyroiditis

Postpartum thyroiditis — Overview covers the definition, symptoms and treatment for this postpartum condition affecting the thyroid.

Post-polio syndrome

Prediabetes

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Primary biliary cholangitis

Primary sclerosing cholangitis

Pulmonary atresia

Pulmonary edema

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Pulmonary hypertension

Pulmonary valve stenosis

Q fever

Rectal cancer

Rheumatic fever

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Roseola

Sarcoidosis

Sheehan's syndrome

Shingles

Sick sinus syndrome

Sinus headaches

Sjogren's syndrome

Small vessel disease

Smallpox

Somatic symptom disorder

Stomach cancer

Strep throat

Sudden cardiac arrest

Sunburn

Takayasu's arteritis

Teen depression

Thalassemia

Toxic hepatitis

Toxoplasmosis

Tricuspid atresia

Tricuspid valve regurgitation

Tuberculosis

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes in children

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes in children

Typhoid fever

Ulcerative colitis

Valley fever

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Viral hemorrhagic fevers

Vitamin deficiency anemia

Von Willebrand disease

West Nile virus

Whiplash

Whipple's disease

Whooping cough

Wilson's disease