Definition: what is asthenia?
Asthenia is the medical term which is used to describe physical tiredness. It is characterised by full-body tiredness which lasts a period of time, and a decline in a person’s physical capacity and abilities to do things. Unlike normal fatigue, this state of exhaustion does not occur after physical exercise and does not disappear with rest.
It can be an isolated problem (in these cases we talk about chronic fatigue syndrome) or a symptom of another illness. This is what makes it so difficult to diagnose.
Asthenia is a common problem for people. In fact, nearly 50% of patients complain about being tired during their medical consultation with a doctor.
Causes of asthenia
In more than half of the cases of asthenia, it is of an organic origin and therefore results in chronic stress, high levels of anxiety, depression or neurosis.
In the case of organic asthenia, it is a symptom of an illness. There are many causes for it which are also varied:
- caused by an infection: mononucleosis, hepatitis, tuberculosis, Lyme disease…
- caused by a cardiovascular problem: arterial hypertension, vascular problems in the brain
- caused by cancer: cancer and treatments such as chemotherapy
- caused by neurological factors: multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy
- caused by digestive problems: Crohn’s disease, irritable colon …
- caused by endocrinal problems: hyperactive thyroid or hypoactive thyroid
- caused by metabolic factors: diabetes, hypoglycaemia, malnutrition, metabolic problems
- caused by haematological factors: anaemia, lymphoma, leukaemia
- caused by toxins: taking certain medications (neuroleptics, beta-blockers), consuming alcohol
The treatment for asthenia is solely dependant on the cause for it in the individual patient. In the case of somatic asthenia, the treatment will aim to deal with the illness that is causing it.
If the patient is suffering from organic asthenia, treatment may rely on prescribing a patient with anti-asthenic stimulants. These medicines are primarily made up of vitamins, trace elements and amino acids that the patient may be lacking, which has led to this feeling of tiredness.
Doctors also recommend patients to maintain a healthy lifestyle: sufficient amount of sleep (at least 8 hours per night) and a balanced diet.