Symptoms A-Z

Severe Fatigue Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand your severe fatigue symptoms, including 10 causes & common questions.

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Contents

  1. 10 Possible Severe Fatigue Causes
  2. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  3. Statistics

10 Possible Severe Fatigue Causes

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

Sleep deprived

Sleep deprivation is also called sleep debt. It is the state of not getting adequate sleep, either in the short term or the long term.

Sleep apnea is a common cause, as is the routine of modern life with too many hours of work and activities.

Symptoms include clumsiness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, slow healing, daytime sleepiness, and sometimes depression. Often there is weight gain, partly due to metabolic disturbance and partly due to eating more in an effort to maintain energy and continue working.

Sleep deprivation interferes with quality of life. There is risk of job loss due to inability to concentrate, as well as risk of accidents from becoming sleepy while driving or operating machinery. Weight gain and Type 2 diabetes are both more common in those who are chronically sleep deprived.

Diagnosis is made through patient history and sometimes through a sleep study in a lab.

Treatment involves addressing any underlying medication issues or other causes, as well as establishment of "sleep hygiene" habits and routines that contribute to better sleep.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, daytime sleepiness, sleep duration less than 7 hours, difficulty concentrating

Symptoms that always occur with sleep deprived: sleep duration less than 7 hours, daytime sleepiness

Symptoms that never occur with sleep deprived: nausea or vomiting, being severely ill, fever, unintentional weight loss

Urgency: Wait and watch

Depression

Depression is a mental disorder in which a person feels constantly sad, hopeless, discouraged, and loses interest in activities and life on more days than not. These symptoms interfere with daily life, work, and friendships.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, depressed mood, headache, anxiety, irritability

Symptoms that always occur with depression: depressed mood

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 wi...

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Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a set of chronic symptoms that include ongoing fatigue, diffuse tenderness to touch, musculoskeletal pain, and usually some degree of depression.

The cause is not known. When fibromyalgia appears, it is usually after a stressful physical or emotional event such as an automobile accident or a divorce. It may include a genetic component where the person experiences normal sensation as pain.

Almost 90% of fibromyalgia sufferers are women. Anyone with rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, may be more prone to fibromyalgia.

Poor sleep is often a symptom, along with foggy thinking, headaches, painful menstrual periods, and increased sensitivity to heat, cold, bright lights, and loud noises.

There is no standard test for fibromyalgia. The diagnosis is usually made when the above symptoms go on for three months or more with no apparent cause.

Fibromyalgia does not go away on its own but does not get worse, either.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, arthralgias or myalgias, anxiety, depressed mood, headache

Symptoms that always occur with fibromyalgia: arthralgias or myalgias

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Overactive thyroid

The thyroid is a small, bow-tie shaped gland in your neck. Its main job is to produce thyroid hormone (known as T3 or T4), which serves a wide array of functions throughout the body.

When too much thyroid hormone is released, the body’s metabolism gets ramped up, causing symptoms ...

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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 b...

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Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism, or "underactive thyroid," means that the thyroid gland in the neck does not produce enough of its hormones. This causes a slowing of the body's metabolism.

The condition can occur due to autoimmune disease; any surgery or radiation treatment to the thyroid gland; some medications; pregnancy; or consuming too much or too little iodine. It is often found among older women with a family history of the disease.

Common symptoms include fatigue, constantly feeling cold, weight gain, slow heart rate, and depression. If left untreated, these and other symptoms can worsen until they lead to very low blood pressure and body temperature, and even coma.

Diagnosis is made through a simple blood test.

Hypothyroidism is easily managed with daily oral medication. The patient usually starts feeling better after a couple of weeks and may even lose some extra weight. It's important for the patient to be monitored by a doctor and have routine blood testing so that the medication can be kept at the correct levels.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, muscle aches

Urgency: Primary care doctor

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

Insomnia disorder

Insomnia disorder is a short-term or chronic condition whereby individuals have difficulty

sleeping. Other common symptoms include fatigue, difficulty with concentration, social

dysfunction, reduced motivation, and behavioral changes. The short-term form of

the condition is usually ...

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Obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a relatively common condition, especially in obese adults. It refers to obstruction (blockage) of the airway during sleep. This obstruction is usually caused by the back of the tongue and the muscles of the palate relaxing and falling ...

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Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Severe Fatigue

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

  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Are you experiencing a headache?
  • Have you lost your appetite recently?
  • Have you experienced any nausea?

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

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

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your severe fatigue

Severe Fatigue Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced severe fatigue have also experienced:

  • 5% Nausea
  • 4% Headache
  • 3% Fatigue

People who have experienced severe fatigue were most often matched with:

  • 57% Depression
  • 42% Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

People who have experienced severe fatigue had symptoms persist for:

  • 35% Over a month
  • 24% Less than a week
  • 19% Less than a day

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

Severe Fatigue Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your severe fatigue

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.