What is Fatigue (muscular, chronic, adrenal) and how to treat it?


What is fatigue?

Fatigue is a common sensation after periods of great stress , both physical and mental, caused by physiological changes during these periods. In some cases, it can be a symptom of a more serious condition or even a condition in itself.

It is worth remembering that fatigue is a subjective phenomenon, that is, no one feels fatigue the same way you do, just as the intensity can vary from person to person.

Types of fatigue

As much as the feeling of tiredness is somewhat generalized, fatigue can be divided into several types, especially because of its causes. The main types of fatigue are:

Muscle fatigue (physical)

Muscle fatigue is that extreme physical tiredness, usually present after intense exercise. In many contexts, feeling physically exhausted is normal, such as after training. However, it can also appear at unsuitable times, such as when you wake up. In such cases, it is a sign that something is wrong.

Muscle fatigue can also be divided between central and peripheral:

  • Central muscle fatigue: localized disability / lack of strength;
  • Peripheral muscle fatigue: is characterized by a feeling of lack of comprehensive energy.

Mental fatigue

Do feelings like difficulty concentrating, irritability and headaches sound familiar? These are all symptoms of mental fatigue, a sign that the brain has been working too hard and is feeling tired.

As with muscle fatigue, it is normal after certain activities, such as long-term intellectual work. In other circumstances, it can also indicate that something is wrong, especially with regard to lifestyle and emotional situation.

Chronic fatigue

When fatigue lasts more than 6 months, it becomes chronic. In these cases, the sensation may be related to a medical condition or to the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a disease still little known.

Adrenal fatigue

Result of a dysfunction in the adrenal glands, adrenal fatigue fits the classification of chronic fatigue with a pathological background. It is characterized by a decrease in general energy, with difficulty getting out of bed, weakening of the immune system, irritability, among other symptoms.

Sensory fatigue

This type of fatigue is related to sensory organs, such as eyes and ears. In these cases, most of the symptoms are related to the organs themselves and can be resolved with time at rest.

Summer fatigue (natsubane)

In Japan, that well-known tiredness during the summer gets its own name: natsubane . Caused primarily by temperature, summer fatigue is also related to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance caused by excessive sweating in the heat.


Despite being a normal reaction of the body to stress, fatigue can have associated causes.
Are they:

Physical exercises

In the case of muscle fatigue, physical exercises are the main culprits. This is because muscle fibers depend on metabolic processes to function. The two main culprits are the lack of energy and electrochemical changes in the cells.

Short exercises that require intense effort release calcium, promoting an increase in acidity in the muscle cells, accumulating harmful substances for the cells, such as lactate and ammonia.

These substances block the systems responsible for generating new energy for the fibers, making it necessary to stop the effort. In addition, they can be transported to the brain, creating a feeling of discomfort and general fatigue.

In the case of milder exercises with prolonged effort, fatigue is due to the decrease of energy cells in muscle cells. Other factors that can influence this process are dehydration, lack of sugar and high temperature.

Extensive intellectual works

If you’ve taken the entrance exam or spent a lot of time studying for an important exam, you know that, at the end of the day, tiredness can be compared to spending the whole day doing hard work.

Intellectual tasks such as reading, writing, studying, solving logical-mathematical problems, among others, can lead to mental fatigue, since there is a real brain exercise in the play.

Hormonal problems

Hormonal disorders such as hypothyroidism and hypoactivity of the HPA axis may be responsible for fatigue.

In hypothyroidism, tiredness is caused by a reduction in the speed of metabolic processes. Meanwhile, when the problem is in the HPA axis, the reason for the fatigue is the decrease in cortisol, the hormone responsible for the body’s response in stressful situations.


Stress is any type of external event that alters the physiological state of balance in the body. With this definition, it is understood that even sentimentally good events are stressful, as they involve an imbalance of something. These imbalances can happen in both the mind and the body.

These changes, when prolonged, can easily cause a state of physical or mental fatigue.


There are several medications that can be responsible for the feeling of tiredness. Among the most common are antiallergics, tranquilizers (benzodiazepines), antidepressants, among others.

Even caffeine, although stimulating, when taken in excess can cause a “tolerance” that makes you more tired than it stimulates.

Medical conditions

Not infrequently, fatigue can be a symptom that something is wrong in the body. In such cases, it is often called asthenia .

Infections, tumors and other diseases can be behind the sensation. This can be as much for the energy used by the body when trying to fight these problems as for the diseases themselves.

An example of a medical condition that causes fatigue directly is anemia , resulting from the decrease in the number of red cells in the bloodstream. In the case of bacterial infections, for example, the body ends up spending a lot of energy to try to get rid of the microorganism.

Other conditions that may be responsible for fatigue are:

  • Cardiac insufficiency;
  • Chronic renal failure;
  • Diabetes mellitus ;
  • Bronchitis;
  • Pulmonary emphysema;
  • Fibromyalgia;
  • Liver diseases;
  • Mononucleosis.


Fatigue is one of the main symptoms of the lack of nutrients necessary to maintain the proper functioning of the body. Malnutrition is closely linked to a lack of energy, both physical and mental.

Mental disorders

Often known for the limitations it causes, depression is one of several mental disorders that can cause fatigue. Depressed individuals may experience tiredness so intense that it is difficult to get out of bed in the morning, even though physically everything is fine.

The same can happen with patients with bipolar disorder , psychoses, among other disorders less known and / or credited by fatigue.

Sleep disorders

It is logical to think that sleepless nights translate to tiredness in the following days. The main conditions responsible for this are sleep disorders such as insomnia , sleep apnea and narcolepsy .


Have you noticed that our parents and grandparents get tired much more easily than young people? Well, this is because aging introduces several conditions that can cause fatigue, such as reduced muscle strength, decreased cardiovascular functions, nutritional problems, disturbances in the absorption of food, among others.

The elderly also do not usually practice as many physical exercises as younger people and, with this, there is loss of muscle strength. In addition, it is normal for the elderly to suffer from depression, further worsening the feeling of extreme tiredness.

It is also in old age that many diseases can settle and, therefore, just because the person is older, does not mean that fatigue is normal. It is always worth doing a check-up to check if everything is okay with your health.


During pregnancy, a woman’s energy and nutritional demands can be increased. Therefore, it is common for pregnant women to experience fatigue, especially at the end of pregnancy.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Very rarely, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is the diagnosis of a person who suffers from extreme tiredness without any cause being determined. There are no biological markers or diseases behind: the person simply feels fatigue for no reason.

This syndrome can be accompanied by other symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, memory problems, muscle and joint pain , sore throat , difficulty sleeping, among others. However, it is not possible to establish a diagnosis for any of these symptoms.

It is believed that the disease can be triggered by other problems such as viral infections, depression, anemia, autoimmune causes, among others.

Burn Out syndrome

When the cell phone’s battery reaches zero, it turns off. Something similar happens with our mind in the burn out syndrome , also known as mental exhaustion. It is preceded by long periods of intellectual work and its main symptoms are inability to think clearly, memory problems, slowness in thoughts, discouragement, changes in sleep and tiredness.

Exhaustion is not that tiredness at the end of the shift, but the consequence of a chronic process in which the individual goes through long periods of stress at work. It is no wonder that nowadays, this syndrome is becoming more and more common.

For this syndrome, the best treatment is leisure. Yes, taking time to rest is essential for the individual to return to their routine. However, none of this helps if, when he returns to work, he is unable to change the factors that led him there.

For this reason, it is often necessary to reevaluate life choices and psychotherapeutic treatment can be a good help in solving your emotional problems and conflicts.

Fatigue symptoms

Being a symptom in itself, it is strange to talk about symptoms of fatigue. However, the way fatigue is felt varies from person to person and, in addition, it may be accompanied by other sensations. The main symptoms are:

  • Tiredness and difficulty getting up even though you slept well the night before;
  • Decreased energy in general;
  • Lack of will to carry out day-to-day activities;
  • Sad or variable moods;
  • Difficulty concentrating;
  • Memory problems;
  • Headaches (headache);
  • Muscle aches;
  • Easier to contract diseases.

When these symptoms last for more than 6 months, you can speak of chronic fatigue, usually a sign that something is wrong.

How is the diagnosis of fatigue made?

First, it is necessary to clarify the difference between a symptom and a sign.

The symptom is something subjective, which the patient feels and reports to the doctor. The sign, on the other hand, is something verifiable by the doctor, as is the case of a rash.

If we think that fatigue is a symptom, it is simple: the patient diagnoses himself. So how do you know when to see a doctor? Well, it is important to pay attention to the symptoms associated with fatigue, as they can be good clues to what is going on.

If it is just normal tiredness, without other symptoms, you can try to reverse the situation by adopting healthy habits such as a balanced diet and physical exercise. In that case, wait about 3 to 4 weeks on this new routine to see if there are any improvements.

When tiredness is accompanied by pain, lack of energy, lack of appetite and / or depressed mood, it is extremely important that the patient seeks a health professional and check that everything is right.

When visiting a general practitioner complaining of fatigue, the practitioner may ask:

Clinical history

The doctor may ask if the patient already knows of any condition that may be causing fatigue, as well as how long ago the symptoms started, how they manifested, etc. He may also ask about nighttime habits and whether the individual has tried to take any steps to get around the situation, such as using supplements.

It is important to always mention the drugs taken at the consultation, as this can often be the problem.


The main tests to be ordered are blood tests, both for the precise information they provide us and for the ease of carrying out. When it comes to fatigue, the most requested tests are related to the patient’s nutritional status.

Therefore, the doctor may order a complete blood count , in which blood conditions are analyzed to rule out the possibility of anemia. A lipidogram can also help diagnose other illnesses that may be causing fatigue.

ferritin test checks the levels of iron absorbed into the bloodstream, while fasting glucose confers the possibility of diabetes and hyperglycemia . The creatinine test helps to check kidney function.

Other tests that can be ordered are to analyze the vitamins and minerals in the body that, when low, can be the cause of fatigue.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is made by exclusion, that is, it can only be given after having tested all the possibilities. It is a very rare diagnosis and, therefore, you should not worry about fear of having an unknown syndrome before visiting the doctor.

Is fatigue curable? How to treat?

If we think that fatigue is a normal reaction of the body, it has no cure. However, it can pass . Often, treatment is as simple as a good night’s sleep. In others, more drastic measures may be needed.

When it comes to nutritional problems, the doctor may recommend the use of dietary supplements, such as Centrum or Sustagen , which can be complete or specific to a particular nutrient that is missing.

Read more: Sustagen: what is it for?

If the problem is a mental disorder, such as a depressive condition, a psychiatrist will be responsible for prescribing the appropriate medication, usually an antidepressant. People with bipolar disorder can be medicated with mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. It is of utmost importance that there is psychological counseling in these cases.

Other adjacent diseases should be treated as prescribed by the doctor.


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

How to improve fatigue?

Some tips to reduce the possibility of feeling fatigued on a daily basis are:

  • Sleep long enough: Remember that the amount of sleep needed varies from person to person and according to age, but in general, an adult should sleep 8 hours per night on average;
  • Sleep and wake up at fixed times: This helps the body adjust to the cycles, which are extremely important for physical and mental rest;
  • Have a balanced diet: Healthy diets balanced in fats, carbohydrates, sweet and savory are the best option to avoid fatigue due to nutritional problems;
  • Drinking plenty of fluids: Helps to keep the body hydrated, since dehydration can also cause fatigue;
  • Perform physical activities: 30 minutes of physical activities a day helps to keep muscles and bones strong;
  • Reduce the sources of stress: Long periods of stress are great allies of fatigue and, therefore, reducing the sources of stress on a daily basis can help with the problem.

How to deal with summer fatigue

Typical summer fatigue can be easily combated with a few simple tips:

  • Diet: A diet rich in protein, minerals and vitamins is ideal for the hottest season of the year. White meats, such as fish, poultry and pork, as well as seasonal vegetables and fruits are recommended. Avoid consuming cold foods and beverages so as not to cause a sudden drop in internal body temperature;
  • Hydration: Drinking plenty of water is essential in the heat. You should not drink sodas and alcoholic beverages, as these only worsen dehydration. If there is a lot of sweat and loss of electrolytes, sports drinks can also be included in the menu;
  • Adequate sleep : Sleeping in the heat can be difficult, but using a fan is the best option, as opposed to air conditioning. The ideal temperature for sleeping is 28 ºC. Bedding and sleeping clothes should be made of natural fibers, such as cotton, silk or linen, to help maintain a stable temperature;
  • Moderate physical exercise: Due to the heat, sweat is much more abundant in the summer. This causes an electrolyte imbalance in the body, which worsens fatigue. Therefore, physical exercise should be moderate in order to avoid losing a lot of water and electrolytes.

How to fight muscle fatigue before and after training?

Active people know that it is extremely important to take care of your muscles both before and after training. Therefore, some tips to avoid muscle fatigue are:

  • Food: When you go to train, you should eat carbohydrates 20 to 30 minutes before, in order to provide energy to your muscles. At the end, it is recommended to eat protein up to a maximum of 30 minutes after training, which helps in muscle recovery and growth;
  • Heat: To relieve post-workout muscle pain and fatigue, warm temperature is a good ally, as it dilates blood vessels and relaxes muscles;
  • Massage with ointment or spray: Ointments such as Gelol have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, in addition to having menthol, a substance that provides freshness;
  • Rest: It is important that the body rest for at least 1 day before another workout, as this helps in your recovery;
  • Warm -up exercises : Preparing with warm -up exercises before training is essential to avoid muscle injuries;
  • Stretches: At the end of training, stretches help to reduce pain and speed up muscle recovery;
  • Alternate exercises: Exercises should be alternated with each workout in order to allow recovery and avoid muscle damage.

Mental fatigue: what to do?

When it comes to mental fatigue, there are a few tips that can help:

  • Rest: Resting, whether at home or on a trip, is one of the best measures against mental fatigue;
  • Leisure: Try to do a leisure activity for at least 20 minutes every day. Leisure is just as important as productivity and not giving yourself that much time can be extremely harmful to mental health;
  • Consider seeking help: When none of this works and there are negative thoughts about life or the world, it is time to seek help. Look for a psychiatrist or a psychologist, as they are the most recommended health professionals to deal with these issues;
  • Meditate: It has been proven that meditation has many benefits for mental health. Dedicate 15 minutes of your day to the art of breathing and emptying your head that you will notice how things change;
  • Alternative therapies: Other therapies, such as yoga and aromatherapy, can be of great help in finding a mental balance. Just don’t forget to continue treatment with mental health professionals, as they are the main allies in combating mental disorders.

Complications and consequences

In general, fatigue does not usually cause many complications, because it is only resting that it goes away. When it lasts longer or when it is the result of a more serious illness, then things can get complicated. Understand:


The inability to concentrate from mental fatigue and the difficulty in motor coordination of muscle fatigue can lead to accidents at work or during activities that require a lot of attention, such as driving.

Fatigue fractures

Those who exercise frequently should be aware, as muscle fatigue can cause bone fractures called “fatigue fracture” or “by stress”. This is because, when fatigued, the muscle has greater difficulties in absorbing the impacts, allowing them to pass to the bone with more intensity.

Social isolation and depression

Just as depression can lead to fatigue, extreme tiredness can lead to social isolation, a major contributor to the development of depression. Although it is difficult to say that someone will develop depression due to isolation – due to the complexity of the disease – this is a major risk factor for triggering emotional disturbances.

Decreased overall quality of life

As if being fatigued was not enough, the problem can decrease the quality of life, since the patient who suffers from this condition can stop taking care of himself, exposing himself to several risks. In addition, the lack of energy prevents the patient from exercising, which is essential for maintaining a healthy life and preventing chronic diseases.

Worsening of underlying diseases

When left undiagnosed and untreated, the illnesses that may be causing fatigue can get worse. It is worth remembering that some of them are very serious, like cancer . When you notice the symptom of fatigue that does not improve and appears for no reason, it is extremely important that the patient visits a doctor for a check-up.

How to prevent fatigue?

In a way, preventing fatigue is an impossible task, since it is a normal reaction of the body. The most that can be done is to try to soften its effects through a healthy lifestyle, with a balanced diet, physical exercise and adequate sleep.

To prevent fatigue caused by infectious diseases, hygiene measures are necessary: ​​washing your hands with soap and water frequently, not sharing glasses, cutlery and personal items, as well as avoiding contact with potentially contaminated surfaces are the best alternatives.

Taking proper care before and after training reduces the risk of muscle fatigue, injuries and, consequently, stress fractures.

Consulting a mental health professional as soon as you feel the first signs of depression is one of the best ways to prevent the disease from progressing to the stage of psychological fatigue. Following the treatment of underlying diseases correctly is also effective in combating extreme tiredness.