#Causes and symptoms of weakness

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Weakness is a symptom which is presented due to various underlying diseases. Weakness can be generalized as seen in diabetes or may be location specific as seen in muscular weakness or neurological disorder. Symptoms are low energy, dizziness, and headache.

Types

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The weakness can be divided on the basis of the area where the patient feels weakness or weakness is due to the involved organ or system:

  1. a) Generalized weakness: Generalized weakness is the condition characterized by the presence of overall fatigue. The patient may not able to point out the exact location and present a low feeling.
  2. b) Neurological weakness: Various neurological disorders are also responsible for the weakness in patients. This is due to the fact that nerves are the primary control mechanism for energy production. Any disorder in this control system causes a reduction in energy. The neurological conditions include multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
  3. c) Muscular weakness: Weakness may also occur due to muscular disorder. Type of muscular fatigue includes central fatigue, neuromuscular fatigue, and peripheral muscle fatigue.
  4. d) Cancer weakness: The patient, in its initial stages of cancer, may suffer from weakness, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss.
  5. e) Chronic disease weakness: Chronic as well acute condition, if not managed properly, may lead to weakness. Chronic conditions such as diabetes and acute conditions such as anemia and infection cause weakness.

Causes

Following are the various causes of fatigue or weakness:

  1. Altered electrolytic balance
  2. Systemic infections such as urinary tract infection or respiratory tract infection.
  3. Chronic fatigue syndrome
  4. Altered thyroid levels such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism
  5. Underlying disease such as cancer
  6. Acute conditions such as anemia which causes reduced energy
  7. Chronic disease conditions like diabetes and arthritis
  8. Neurological disorders such as myasthenia gravis which results in muscle weakness
  9. Cardiovascular disease such as coronary heart disease

Symptoms

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Although fatigue is itself a symptom, but may also affect other physical and emotional factors:

  1. Chronic low energy
  2. Increased stress
  3. Dizziness
  4. A headache
  5. Lack of focus and concentration
  6. Reduced rational thinking and decision making ability
  7. Muscle weakness
  8. Irritability
  9. Reduced speed of reflexes

Ways to diagnose

The diagnosis of the weakness is done on the basis of other symptoms presented by the patient. The doctor tries to identify the exact cause of weakness on the basis of physical examination. After preliminary examination, the doctor may advise further tests to confirm the cause of weakness. If the patient has unexplained weight loss along with weakness and other symptoms such as night sweating, there might be chances of cancer. The blood test is done to evaluate the presence of anemia and other infections. Blood sugar can also be diagnosed through HBA1C.

Risks if neglect

The various risk exists when the weakness, as a symptom, is neglected. Weakness or fatigue is a symptom which may be due to the serious underlying disease. Delay in the diagnosis of underlying disease may lead to serious, sometimes fatal, consequences. Neglecting weakness may take a toll on the quality of life of the patient. The patient may not be able to perform routine work and has low enthusiasm. Further, the patient may get detached from society and starts living in isolation.

Stages

The fatigue or weakness has three stages and the patient may prevent the progression of weakness by taking preventive measures to stop the condition at that particular stage. Following are the stages of weakness:

  1. A) Initial stage:  This stage is characterized by the presence of high concentration of cytokines indicating that the body is fighting against disease. However, the concentration remains high during the initial stage of fatigue.
  2. B) Increased fatigue: When the symptoms of the initial stage are ignored, the disease progressed into the next level of fatigue. The progression of this condition varies from patient to patient. Further, the condition also depends upon the underlying cause.
  3. C) Exhaustion: Exhaustion is the condition which is severely debilitating, and the energy of the person is at an all-time low. The patient is not able to perform routine activities while the brain function also suffers.

Foods to eat and avoid

Foods rich in calcium and iron

Foods to eat:

  1. Fruits
  2. Non-caffeinated drinks and fruit juices
  3. Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids
  4. Walnuts
  5. Cashews
  6. Water
  7. Banana
  8. Oatmeal
  9. Quinoa
  10. Chia seeds
  11. Green tea
  12. Almonds

Foods to avoid:

  1. Junk foods
  2. Processed Meats
  3. Caffeinated drinks
  4. Foods with high sugar
  5. Honey
  6. Fried foods
  7. White rice
  8. Pasta
  9. Foods rich in saturated fats

Prevention tips

  1. Eat a healthy diet.
  2. Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
  3. Do not skip meals and eat meals frequently.
  4. Take medications as prescribed by the doctor.
  5. Get regular exercise.
  6. Take a sound sleep and try avoiding sleeping pills.
  7. Consult your physician and get a detailed evaluation of your health.
  8. Keep your weight under control, reduce caffeinated drink and stay away from stress.

When to see a doctor

Book an appointment with your doctor if:

  • Your symptoms do not subside even after taking the prescribed medication.
  • You feel chronic fatigue and weakness.
  • You feel weakness with unexplained weight loss.
  • You feel weakness along with constipation.
  • You have fatigue leading to almost unconsciousness.
  • You have any other symptoms that are of concern.

Do’s & Don’ts

Do’s

  • Visit a doctor in case you feel chronic fatigue as this may be a sign of serious disease.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Eat frequent meals.
  • Take a sound sleep.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Socialize with family and friends.
  • Perform easy exercises to keep your body active.
  • Do meditation.
  • Take medications as prescribed by the doctor.

Don’ts

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  • Do not take excess stress.
  • Do not smoke and avoid alcohol.
  • Do not exhaust your body.
  • Do not perform strenuous exercise or activity.
  • Do not skip meals.
  • Do not ignore other symptoms.
  • Do not take a high amount of sugar, and fats.
  • Do not take excess caffeine.

Risks for specific people

People suffering from the underlying diseases are at increased risk of weakness and fatigue. Diabetic people feel more weakness due to non-consumption of sugar by the cells. Patients suffering from various neurological disorder also feel weakness. People with cancer are also at increased risk of weakness and fatigue due to disease as well as chemotherapy.