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.
Heart and lung-related causes of lack of energy
Lack of energy may be caused by heart and lung problems including:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis)
- Coronary artery disease (plaque buildup in the walls of the coronary arteries)
- Congestive heart failure (deterioration of the heart’s ability to pump blood)
- Heart valve disease
- Irregular heartbeat
Psychosocial and neurological causes of lack of energy
Lack of energy may be caused by psychosocial or neurological conditions including:
- Alcohol use
- Anxiety disorders
- Drug abuse
- Eating disorders
- Work shift changes
Other causes of lack of energy
Lack of energy can also be caused by diseases, disorders or conditions including:
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
- Cancer and its treatment
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Chronic pain conditions
- Diabetes (chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to use sugar for energy)
- Kidney disease (includes any type of kidney problem, such as kidney stones, kidney failure and kidney anomalies) or liver disease (includes any type of liver problem, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver failure)
- Medication side effects
- Rheumatologic conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis (chronic autoimmune disease characterized by joint inflammation), fibromyalgia (chronic condition that causes pain, stiffness and tenderness), and lupus
- Sleep disorders
- Thyroid disorders
Serious or life-threatening causes of lack of energy
In some cases, lack of energy may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include:
- Acute decompensated heart failure (rapid deterioration of the heart’s ability to pump blood)
- Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm)
- Drug overdose
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Exposure to environmental toxin or poison
- Hemorrhage or internal bleeding
- Severe depression
- Severe infection
Questions for diagnosing the cause of lack of energy
To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your lack of energy including:
- When did you first notice your lack of energy?
- Are you getting sufficient sleep?
- How often is lack of energy affecting you?
- Do you have any stress in your life?
- How is your mood?
- What is your schedule like?
- What is your diet like?
- What kind of exercise do you get?
- Do you have any other symptoms?
- What medications are you taking?
- Do you drink any alcohol?
- Do you use any illicit drugs?
What are the potential complications of lack of energy?
Because lack of energy can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:
- Accidental trauma
- Chronic pain
- Progressive heart, lung, liver or kidney disease
- Spread of cancer
- Spread of infection
- Fatigue. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003088.htm.
- Depression. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003213.htm.
- Ricci JA, Chee E, Lorandeau AL, Berger J. Fatigue in the U.S. workforce: prevalence and implications for lost productive work time. J Occup Environ Med 2007; 49:1.
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 of... Read more about lack of energyintroduction
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.