Asthenia: Causes, Diagnostic & Prevention

Asthenia is the medical term used to mean “fatigue”. It is a vague term because fatigue is very difficult to measure. On the other hand, it can correspond to normal fatigue or a symptom of an illness. Also, when fatigue seems unusually intense and disproportionate to a person’s lifestyle, it is advisable to see a doctor to find the source.

Definition of asthenia

The word “asthenia” comes from the Greek “sthénos” (force, vigor), and includes an a-privative. It would therefore correspond originally to a lack of strength and vigor. Asthenia refers to a feeling of generalized fatigue, excessive and for no apparent reason.

Causes of asthenia

A large number of pathologies can be the cause of asthenia. A distinction is made between organic (diseases), functional and psychological causes.

Organic causes:

  • Infections (hepatitis, mononucleosis, tuberculosis, HIV, Lyme disease, and all infectious diseases in general);
  • Endocrine and metabolic diseases  : Hypothyroidism (decrease in the secretion of thyroid hormones resulting from a dysfunction in the thyroid gland), Cushing’s syndrome, antehypophyseal insufficiency, hypogonadism…;
  • Metabolic disease  : diabetes, chronic renal failure, malnutrition, hyponatremia, hypokalaemia, hypercalcemia …;
  • Anemia (blood disease characterized by a lack of red blood cells), iron deficiency;
  • Cancer and associated treatments (chemotherapy, radiotherapy);
  • Digestive diseases (irritable bowel, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease);
  • Autoimmune disease (lupus, sarcoidosis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, etc.);
  • Neurological disorders (Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, sleep apnea syndrome, etc.);
  • Medicines (neuroleptic, beta-blocker);
  • Liver disorders (hepatitis, hemochromatosis, cirrhosis, etc.);
  • Cardiovascular diseases (heart failure, infarction suites, etc.);
  • Stroke and its consequences;
  • And many other diseases …
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Psychic causes:

The depression and anxiety are the main psychological causes responsible asthenia.

Chronic fatigue syndrome

There is a disease that is characterized primarily by recurrent fatigue called chronic fatigue syndrome . It is a relatively recent disease that still raises many questions, especially about its origin and the role that depression and its treatment could play.

Diagnosis of asthenia

The doctor questions the person who consults on the fatigue felt, its intensity and its frequency, the aim being to find out whether it is temporary or permanent fatigue and whether there are easily identifiable causes. The doctor also asks questions designed to differentiate fatigue from drowsiness which is due to particular illnesses.

Looking for associated symptoms is essential to determine the origin of asthenia. The medical examination then the additional examinations make it possible to orient the diagnosis.

Treatment of asthenia

Treatment for asthenia depends on its cause . It can be medicinal for infection, hormonal imbalance, cancer or other illnesses and associations between drugs and psychotherapy for depression or chronic anxiety.

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The Anti-asthenia treatment (containing vitamins, amino acids, trace elements ) are recommended when the fatigue is commonplace due to occupational fatigue, family, examinations or competitions and that no organic cause is found.  

Whatever the pathology involved, it is recommended to allow yourself a sufficient number of hours of sleep and a balanced diet .

Prevention of asthenia

Prevention is based on:

  • healthy lifestyle  : sleep well, avoid stress, eat well.
  • Take mental disorders into account immediately in order to treat them quickly.
  • Treatment of disorders that can cause asthenia.

Complementary approaches to asthenia

Several complementary approaches make it possible to fight against asthenia when it comes to banal fatigue without underlying disease.

Food supplements

A number of food supplements are useful in cases of asthenia:

  • acerola, which is a real concentrate of vitamin C,
  • afalfa, which is particularly anti-anemic thanks to its richness in iron and trace elements,
  • royal jelly or ginger, especially when combined with ginseng and spirulina,
  • maca, against anemia and as a general tonic,
  • the Rhodiola in association with wolfberry (goji berry is one of the fruits richest in vitamin C in the world).
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These food supplements exist as natural products to be consumed as is or in the form of capsules.