What is Chronic Fatigue?

Many of our readers have been asking about fatigue issues. That’s why we’re doing this series of articles and posts about chronic fatigue.

To answer this question, we approached Dr. Irfan Fazil. He specializes in both Internal Medicine and Nephrology (kidney disorders). Dr. Fazil has been in practice in Yuma for over 10 years and he has been recognized as a Most Compassionate Doctor through Health Grades awards.

What is chronic fatigue?

  • Fatigue is a common problem involving a physical and mental state of being tired and weak.
  • Physical and mental fatigue are different, but they often occur together. Long-term physical exhaustion can also lead to mental fatigue.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 3Americans say they do not get enough sleep. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommend sleeping 7 to 8 hours a day for those over 18 years.
  • A lack of sleep can both result from and increasethe risk of a number of medical conditions.
  • Fatigue can prevent a person from fulfilling their usual tasks. It can make it hard to get out of bed in the morning. When it affects safety, for example, on the road, it becomes a public health concern.

Fast facts on fatigue:

Here are some key points about fatigue.

  • Fatigue can result from poor health and it can cause health problems, too.
  • Causes include infections, chronic conditions, stress, and having recently given birth.
  • If a health condition, such as diabetes, is diagnosed and treated, the fatigue may go away.
  • A healthful diet and exercise can help reduce fatigue for many people.

Types of fatigue:

physical fatigue

There are different types of fatigue.

Physical fatigue: A person finds it physically hard to do the things they normally do or used to do, for example, climbing stairs. It includes muscle weakness. Diagnosis may involve a strength test.

mental fatigue

Mental fatigue It is harder to concentrate on things. The person may feel sleepy, have a decreased level of consciousness, and in some cases show signs similar to that of an intoxicated state.



Sleepiness or fatigue?

Sleepiness can happen when a person does not have enough good-quality sleep, or when there is a lack of stimulation. It can also be a symptom of a medical condition. It is more likely to be short term. Sleepiness, or drowsiness, may be solved by getting a good night’s sleep.



Fatigue, especially chronic fatigue, is usually linked to a medical problem.

Drowsiness and fatigue can be life-threatening, for example, if it impairs a person when driving a vehicle or operating heavy machinery.


The main symptom of fatigue is exhaustion after a physical or mental activity. The patient does not feel refreshed after resting or sleeping. It may be hard to carry out the usual activities.

The signs and symptoms of fatigue may be physical, mental, or emotional.

They include:

  • Body aches can be a sign of fatigue.
  • aching or sore muscles
  • painful lymph nodes
  • apathy and lack of motivation
  • persistent tiredness
  • difficulty in concentrating
  • dizziness
  • reduced hand-to-eye coordination
  • headache
  • impaired judgment and indecisiveness
  • irritability and moodiness
  • loss of appetite
  • weakened immune system
  • short-term memory impairment, leading to problems with organizing thoughts and finding the right words to say, known as brain fog
  • sleepiness and drowsiness
  • slow responses to stimuli and slower reflexes than before
  • vision problems, such as blurriness

In severe cases, the person may experience hallucinations.

Gastrointestinal problems may develop, such as bloating, abdominal pain, constipationdiarrhea, and nausea. The symptoms may be similar to those of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Symptoms get worse after exertion. They may appear some hours after activity or exercise, or possibly the next day.

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