Symptoms A-Z

Decreased Exercise Tolerance Symptom, Causes & Questions

Understand your decreased exercise tolerance symptoms, including 9 causes & common questions.

This symptom can also be referred to as: decreased stamina

An image depicting a person suffering from decreased exercise tolerance symptoms

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Contents

  1. 9 Possible Causes
  2. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  3. Statistics

9 Possible Decreased Exercise Tolerance Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced decreased exercise tolerance. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Iron deficiency anemia

Iron deficiency anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough iron to form hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body.

The condition can be caused by acute blood loss through injury, surgery, or childbirth;chronic blood loss through an ulcer, overuse of aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or heavy menstrual periods; or impaired absorption of dietary iron due to low dietary iron intake, prior surgeries, disease, or interference from certain medications.

Symptoms of anemia may include fatigue, shortness of breath, and a rapid heartbeat. If not treated, iron deficiency anemia can lead to heart disease because the heart has to increase its pumping activity in order to compensate for the reduced oxygen carrying capacity of the red blood cells. In children, iron deficiency is also associated with developmental problems. The diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia is made through physical examination and blood tests.

Treatment includes a diet rich in iron-containing foods, such as red meat and leafy green vegetables, along with iron supplements. In some circumstances, hospitalization, blood transfusions, and/or intravenous iron therapy may be needed.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, dizziness, heavy menstrual flow

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Low blood cell counts due to a chronic disease

Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells, which are cells that provide oxygen to body tissues. Anemia of chronic disease is anemia that is found in people who already have certain long-term (chronic) medical conditions.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, shortness of breath on exertion, decreased exercise tolerance, dizziness when standing up, pale skin all over

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Chronic fatigue syndrome

CFS is a chronic, debilitating condition of extreme fatigue that persists for more than six months and results in a substantially lower level of occupational, educational, or social functioning than experienced prior.

It is characterized by fatigue that worsens with exertion but does not improve with rest and may also include cognitive impairment and autonomic symptoms, such as lightheadedness. It is diagnosed via a thorough medical evaluation for a variety of causes of fatigue. Symptoms often persist for years, although many people experience some improvement in symptoms with time.

Cognitive behavioral therapy and graded exercise programs are evidence-based treatments for CFS. Other symptomatic treatments may also be helpful.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, difficulty concentrating, severe fatigue, trouble sleeping, impaired social or occupational functioning

Symptoms that always occur with chronic fatigue syndrome: fatigue, impaired social or occupational functioning

Symptoms that never occur with chronic fatigue syndrome: mild fatigue, fever

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Congestive heart failure

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is no longer able to effectively pump blood to the rest of the body. Heart failure can affect the right side, left side, or both sides of the heart. It can be subcategorized as "heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF)" or "heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF)." The ejection fraction is the portion of blood in the heart that gets ejected through the blood vessels to the rest of the body with each pump. HFpEF is a condition in which the fraction of blood in the heart that is pumped with each beat is normal but the ventricle, one of the chambers of the heart, has been stiffened so does not fill with blood as effectively. HFrEF is a condition in which the fraction of blood ejected from the heart with each beat is reduced.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, cough at night, shortness of breath on exertion

Urgency: Primary care doctor

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (copd)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive inflammation of the lungs that makes breathing difficult. It is caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases and/or dust particles, most often cigarette smoke.

Symptoms may take years to develop. They include a chronic cough with mucus (sputum), wheezing, chest tightness, fatigue, constant colds, swollen ankles, and cyanosis (blue tinge to the lips and/or fingernails.) Depression is often a factor due to reduced quality of life.

Treatment is important because there is a greater risk of heart disease and lung cancer in COPD patients. Though the condition cannot be cured, it can be managed to reduce risks and allow good quality of life.

COPD is commonly misdiagnosed and so careful testing is done. Diagnosis is made through patient history; physical examination; lung function tests; blood tests; and chest x-ray or CT scan.

Treatment involves quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to other lung irritants; use of inhalers to ease symptoms; steroids; lung therapies; and getting influenza and pneumonia vaccines as recommended.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, cough and dyspnea related to smoking, cough, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping

Symptoms that always occur with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (copd): cough and dyspnea related to smoking

Symptoms that never occur with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (copd): rectal bleeding

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Right heart failure (cor pulmonale)

Acute cor pulmonale is also called acute right-sided heart failure and acute RHF. It is the sudden failure of the right ventricle of the heart.

The right ventricle pumps blood out of the heart, into the pulmonary artery, and into the lungs. If the pulmonary artery is blocked, the right ventricle will quickly become overworked and in danger of shutting down. A blood clot, called an embolism, or plaque lining this artery can suddenly cut off blood flow from the heart into the lungs.

Risk factors for acute cor pulmonale include surgery, obesity, smoking, and prolonged immobility. All of these leave the person prone to blood clots and/or plaque in the arteries.

Symptoms include sudden chest pain with rapid heartbeat, pale skin, cold sweat, shortness of breath, and coughing, sometimes with blood.

Acute cor pulmonale is a life-threatening medical emergency. Take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination, blood tests, echocardiogram, and chest x-ray.

Treatment involves oxygen, diuretics, blood-thinning and clot-dissolving medications, and sometimes surgery.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath on exertion, wheezing, decreased exercise tolerance

Symptoms that never occur with right heart failure (cor pulmonale): severe chest pain

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Lower leg weakness

Any leg weakness is a sign of nerve damage, which is very worrisome and requires you to go see a doctor immediately!

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: lower leg weakness, foot weakness, arm weakness, loss of vision, severe pelvis pain

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Peripheral arterial disease (pad)

Peripheral artery disease is also called PAD, intermittent claudication, or vascular disease. The large main artery from the heart is the aorta, and its smaller branches are the peripheral arteries.

In PAD these peripheral arteries are blocked with plaque, which is debris that builds up in the lining of these arteries and eventually cuts off the blood flow.

Risk factors for PAD include smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

PAD usually involves arteries that lead to the legs, but can affect any artery. Symptoms include numbness and pain in the legs, especially with exercise when more circulation is needed but the flow is blocked.

It is important to seek treatment for these symptoms. PAD can lead to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and infection as well as to gangrene, a life-threatening medical emergency.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, blood tests, and sometimes a treadmill test, MRI, and arteriogram.

Treatment involves medication and surgery to open or bypass blocked arteries, and lifestyle changes regarding diet, exercise, and smoking cessation.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: leg numbness, spontaneous foot pain, decreased exercise tolerance, cold feet, thigh pain

Symptoms that never occur with peripheral arterial disease (pad): calf pain from an injury, thigh pain from an injury

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Chest pain from reduced cardiac blood flow (angina pectoris)

Angina pectoris is chest pain that is felt when heart muscle needs more blood than it is currently getting. This may result from coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD happens when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. This is due to the buildup of cholesterol and other material, called plaque, on their inner walls.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: chest pain, chest pain, tight, heavy, squeezing chest pain, moderate chest pain, deep chest pain, behind the breast bone

Symptoms that always occur with chest pain from reduced cardiac blood flow (angina pectoris): chest pain

Symptoms that never occur with chest pain from reduced cardiac blood flow (angina pectoris): productive cough

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Decreased Exercise Tolerance

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Have you been experiencing dizziness?
  • Has any part of your body become paler than normal?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), like Crohn's or Ulcerative colitis?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

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Decreased Exercise Tolerance Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced decreased exercise tolerance have also experienced:

  • 10% Fatigue
  • 3% Nausea
  • 3% Headache

People who have experienced decreased exercise tolerance were most often matched with:

  • 33% Iron Deficiency Anemia
  • 33% Low Blood Cell Counts Due To A Chronic Disease
  • 33% Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Decreased Exercise Tolerance Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you're having decreased exercise tolerance