What is lack of energy?

Lack of energy can be described as tiredness, weariness, lethargy or fatigue. It can be accompanied by depression, decreased motivation, or apathy. Lack of energy can be a normal response to inadequate sleep, overexertion, overworking, stress, lack of exercise, or boredom. When part of a normal response, lack of energy often resolves with rest, adequate sleep, stress management, and good nutrition.

Persistent lack of energy that does not resolve with self-care may be an indication of an underlying physical or psychological disorder. Common causes include allergies and asthma, anemia, cancer and its treatments, chronic pain, heart disease, infection, depression, eating disorders, grief, sleeping disorders, thyroid problems, medication side effects, alcohol use, or drug use.

Patterns and symptoms of lack of energy may help you discover its cause. If it starts in the morning and lasts all day, it could be due to lack of sleep or depression. If it develops as the day passes and is accompanied by dry skin, constipation, cold sensitivity, and weight gain, it may be caused by an underactive thyroid gland. The combination of shortness of breath and lack of energy could be due to heart or lung problems.

Persistent fatigue with no clear diagnosis may result from chronic fatigue syndrome, which can start with a flu-like illness and is often not relieved with rest. Other symptoms, such as cognitive difficulties, prolonged exhaustion and illness after activity, muscle or joint pain, sore throat, headache, and tender lymph nodes, are common.

Lack of energy by itself is rarely an emergency; however, if it develops suddenly or is accompanied by other serious symptoms, it may require immediate evaluation to avoid significant complications. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for sudden energy loss, dizziness, chest pain or pressure, confusion, loss of vision or changes in vision, high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), sudden swelling or weight gain, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate (tachycardia), change in level of consciousness or alertness, severe pain, or if you think you might be a danger to yourself or others.

If your lack of energy is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with lack of energy?

Lack of energy may accompany other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Lack of energy is a nonspecific symptom, so identifying other symptoms may be helpful in determining its cause.... Read more about lack of energysymptoms

CAUSES

What causes lack of energy?

Lack of energy can be a normal response to inadequate sleep, overexertion, overworking, stress, lack of exercise, or boredom. When part of a normal response, lack of energy often resolves with rest, adequate sleep, stress management, and good nutrition. Persistent lack of energy that does not resolve with self-care may be due to a variety of diseases, disorders or conditions.... Read more about lack of energycauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.