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Generalized Weakness


Generalized Weakness

Weakness is decrease of strength in muscles. It is on the rise in India where by patients use it to describe a variety of symptoms of medical, psychological, physiological or psychosocial conditions. It may occur suddenly or gradually. There may be multiple causes behind it.

Is weakness and fatigue the same?

Many a times, both the terms are used interchangeably. However, fatigue is tiredness occurring from an exertion like jogging, fasting, insufficient sleep, etc. Sometimes fatigue may result from extreme weakness occurring from certain medical conditions. Fatigue can be overcome through rest and energetic diets whereas weakness might require further medical examination to find the underlying cause and seek proper treatment.

Both weakness and fatigue are often parts of symptoms of other diseases. But chronic or prolonged weakness may have other problems requiring complex diagnosis and therapy. The causes may not be apparent in the first visit and any long lasting weakness or tiredness should be reported and examined by the medical expert. Impact on daily activities should be used as a hint for diagnosing underlying problems and causing weakness.

Other symptoms like shortness of breath, joint pain, limitation of motions, generalized malaise, chest pain, etc. should not be confused with weakness. They actually represent some disorder or impaired condition from a disease.

How to identify true weakness?

Testing muscle strength, both individual and in groups; detailed neuro-muscular examination; checking for muscle atrophy;abnormal muscle tone;abnormal deep tendon reflexes; pathologic reflexes; fasciculations; muscle tenderness; and sensory deficits will help identify true weakness from general fatigue1.

Medical Conditions that Cause Weakness

Here are a few medical conditions that result in weakness:

  • Iron deficiency or anaemia
  • Endocrine and metabolic disease like hypothyroidism
  • Neurologic diseases
  • Cancer
  • Heart failure, stroke or CVD
  • Chronic obstructive lung disease
  • Renal failure
  • Inflammation
  • Shock
  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Severe hypothermia
  • Infections like UTI or respiratory infection

Warning signs of weakness

The following signs should be recognized to identify true weakness and diagnose it for underlying disease on time:

  • Weakness that increases over a few days
  • Difficulty in breathing and walking
  • Problem while chewing, talking, swallowing
  • Unable to do routine activities like combing hair, dressing, etc. normally
  • High BP
  • Depression and lifestyle imbalance
  • Loss of memory, constructional ability; unhealthy orientation and emotional status

When Should You See a Doctor?

People who experience any of the above warning signs should go for an immediate clinical examination because it might be a symptom of a disease and should be treated on time before it becomes fatal.

Besides, if fatigue persists beyond 2 weeks, the person should visit a doctor for detailed examination and diagnosis.

How to Treat Weakness?

It is important to identify the diseases causing weakness and treat it immediately to prevent further damage to the body.




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