Asthenia

Asthenia man

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

The symptoms of asthenia are often confused with those of extreme fatigue and sleeplessness. If you feel that your body is unable to meet the physical demands of daily life in a chronic way, then it could be asthenia. A person with asthenia feels sleepy and drowsy even after getting 8 hours of night time sleep. People feel sluggish and sapped out off energy. Owing to these, concentration decreases. Long term asthenia symptoms can also lead to onset of depression.
The name asthenia literally means “lack of vigor”. The main symptoms of asthenia are inability to perform routine tasks and chronic onset of fatigue. If this chronic fatigue lasts longer than a span of 6 months, it is treated as a case of asthenia syndrome. Depression can both be a cause and an after-effect of asthenia. Asthenia syndrome often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
Senile asthenia is defined as a state where in there is significant loss of physiological reserve and the individual grows more vulnerable to stress factors. It is closely associated with aging hence the term senile is used to describe the symptoms of asthenia. Senile asthenia has high co-morbidity with heart diseases and thus if left undiagnosed can lead to fatal complications.

Overview of Asthenia

Asthenia is a health condition characterized mainly by weakness and fatigue. A person suffering from asthenia often shows muscular weakness and a consistent lack of energy. It is caused mainly by environmental stress, certain clinical and psychological conditions. Occupational hazards and lifestyle trends may also aggravate this condition. All of these can take a serious toll on human health.

What is asthenia?

Asthenia manAsthenia is the weakness and fatigue that result from physical and mental stress. Overstress and existing medical conditions may aggravate this condition. It is also defined as an as the acute condition of energy deficiency within the body that is manifested as physical weakness.

Two major biological processes occur within the human body that determines the energy level of an individual. These are – anabolism (build-up of complex molecules from simpler ones within the body) and catabolism (breakdown of complex molecules into simpler ones within the body). Asthenia is an outcome of increased catabolism (destructive metabolism) and decreased anabolism (constructive metabolism). It is essentially a multi-dimensional syndrome that adversely impacts the quality of life.

What are the main causes of asthenia?

The common causes of asthenia are given below-

  • Sleep disturbance: Disruption of the normal sleep-wake cycle may occur due to various factors like illnesses, aging, side-effects of certain medications, disturbed mental state or frequent international travel (change of time-zones within short periods). All of the above factors directly impact the Circadian rhythm of the body that regulates sleep-wake and day-night cycles.
  • Aging: Natural degeneration of nerves occurs with age that leads to lack of proper relaxation during sleep or after any physical activity. If this condition persists for a long period of time, it may result in tiredness and asthenia.
  • Diseases: Existing medical disorders such as fever, joint pain, gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular disorders or respiratory problems may affect the musculoskeletal and Central Nervous System considerably, causing fatigue. Few sleep disorders such as insomnia (sleeplessness) or sleep apnea (breathlessness during sleep) may also contribute to fatigue.
  • Occupational hazards: A few professions may demand extreme physical exertion on a daily basis. Examples of these occupations are- factory workers, construction-site labourers and engineers and chauffeurs. Some other occupations such as call-center jobs can permanently disrupt the sleep cycle. In addition to the above, monotonous jobs and extremely long working hours may also affect an individual mentally. All of these factors may cause mental or physical tiredness.
  • Psychological factors: Abnormalities in psychomotor and cognitive functions may occur due to some medical conditions related to mental health (Eg: Depression, Schizophrenia). These lead to some inevitable conditions such as exhaustion, monotony and extreme lack of motivation. Any of the above factors may lead to disturbed mental state and fatigue.
  • Medications: A few strong medications such as steroids and diuretics (used for high blood pressure) can impact other physiological mechanisms of the body and cause fatigue. Also, excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking and intake of narcotics, cocaine or heroin on a regular basis may equally contribute to asthenia.
  • Diet: Regular diet lacking essential vitamins like Vitamin C, Vitamin D and essential minerals like Sodium and Potassium may cause nutrient deficiency in the body and lead to fatigue. Low intake of fluids on a daily basis may lead to acute dehydration causing fatigue (since the body cells are not energized in this case).

What are the symptoms of asthenia?

Asthenia musclesAsthenia and sleeplessness are often confused with each other. Though the two share some common characteristics, they are two completely different phenomena. The following signs of asthenia can help distinguish it from similar conditions-

  • Lack of energy and withdrawal from regular activities, especially the ones demanding physical exertion
  • Feeling drowsy even after long hours of sleep
  • Daytime drowsiness, sluggishness and nap
  • Headache and unexplained malaise
  • Not feeling refreshed throughout the day
  • Loss of work-level productivity and performance
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Poor memory
  • Impaired cognitive functions
  • Loss of concentration and difficulty learning new things
  • Difficulty performing regular activities such as walking, eating or travelling
  • Frequent mood swings and mental instability
  • Panic, anxiety and depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abnormal weight reduction
  • Frequent yawning and inability to keep one’s eyes open
  • Blurred vision (observed in aged people)
  • Falling asleep during driving (may lead to serious accidents)
  • Deterioration of quality of sleep
  • Dizziness and convulsions (rare)

What are the different types of asthenia?

Asthenia may affect the body and the mind. Based on this, it can be classified into two categories-

  • Physical asthenia: It refers to the inability of the body muscles to perform activities that demand some amount of physical exertion (Eg: Running, swimming, cycling, climbing stairs, jogging and physical exercise). It may result due to extreme physical exertion for a considerable period of time or due to natural degeneration of muscles with age. Both the conditions cause a feeling of physical exhaustion.
  • Mental asthenia: It is defined as the sharp decline in cognitive activities such as learning, judgement or decision making. It is a result of extreme exertion on the cognitive center of the brain that leads to reduced neuronal activities for a short period of time. Mental fatigue can also occur due to age, presence of brain tumour or experiencing emotional trauma in the recent past.

Three other types of asthenia have also been identified recently. These are given below-

  • Central: It is marked by a reduction in the neural drive or the nerve-based motor activities.
  • Neuromuscular: Here, the nerve fails to stimulate a muscle.
  • Peripheral muscle: The body fails to supply additional energy required by the contracting muscles.

What diagnostic tests can prove that you have asthenia?

The following laboratory examinations are essential-

  • Complete Blood Count or CBC (to check for anaemia)
  • Total protein and C-reactive protein
  • Calcium, phosphorous and electrolyte count
  • Albumin, globulin and creatinine
  • Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
  • Urinalysis

Treatment and prevention

asthenia neuromuscular junctionThe treatment of asthenia mainly depends on the underlying cause. Pain-relieving medications such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can be given. Asthenia due to stress-related neurotic disorders, sleep disorders etc. can be treated with the help of psychiatrists and therapists. Antidepressant medications are usually administered in chronic cases. In some cases, cognitive behavioral therapy does the trick.

Asthenia due to infections can be cured with the help of antibiotics. Corticosteroids, cyclosporine, and azathioprine are usually administered by doctors in cases of asthenia due to auto-immune disorders such as myasthenia gravis, gestational diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis etc. Nutrient supplements can sometimes be given in cases of asthenia due to iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency.

How many times have you envied your colleagues to be much more energetic and happier than you are?  If you are one among the selected few people who are facing this problem, you are not alone, but in fact, it is a clear indication that you have an underlying health condition which may be pointing towards asthenia.

It is a syndrome where the process of catabolism (the breakdown of complex molecules) is at higher levels as compared to anabolism (accumulation of complex molecules).  Numerous factors contribute to this and include aging, sleep disturbance, underlying disease, psychological stress, occupational hazards, medication side effects, as well as a dietary imbalance.  Since fatigue and tiredness is the most prominent symptom associated with this syndrome, iron deficiency anemia may be the underlying cause.  Studies have found that supplementing with iron-rich foods can improve the symptoms drastically.

Physical and occupational therapy might also help in certain cases. Prevention is mainly by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, following an exercise regime, intake of a balanced diet and sufficient sleep. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol is also important for the prevention of asthenia.

Facts

  • Some famous personalities having myasthenia gravis are- David Niven, Aristotle Onassis, Sir Lawrence Olivier and many more.
  • Around 20% of asthenia patients remain undiagnosed.
  • The only muscle that never tires out is the heart. The average human heart beats 60 to 100 times in a minute pumping around 2500 gallons of blood in a day.

Facts

  • To move one step forward, you have to use 200 muscles of the body.
  • It takes 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown.
  • Muscles make up around 40% of the total body weight.

Facts

  • The strongest muscle in the body (based on its size) is the jaw muscle –masseter. It can close the jaw with a force as strong as 200 pounds on the molars.
  • In an hour of reading, the eye muscles make approximately 10,000 coordinated movements.
  • Muscle contraction is the source of approximately 85% of the heat generated in the human body.

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The symptoms of asthenia are often confused with those of extreme fatigue and sleeplessness. If you feel that your body is unable to meet the physical demands of daily life in a chronic way, then it could be asthenia. A person with asthenia feels sleepy and drowsy even after getting 8 hours of night time sleep. People feel sluggish and sapped out off energy. Owing to these, concentration decreases. Long term asthenia symptoms can also lead to onset of depression.
The name asthenia literally means “lack of vigor”. The main symptoms of asthenia are inability to perform routine tasks and chronic onset of fatigue. If this chronic fatigue lasts longer than a span of 6 months, it is treated as a case of asthenia syndrome. Depression can both be a cause and an after-effect of asthenia. Asthenia syndrome often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
Senile asthenia is defined as a state where in there is significant loss of physiological reserve and the individual grows more vulnerable to stress factors. It is closely associated with aging hence the term senile is used to describe the symptoms of asthenia. Senile asthenia has high co-morbidity with heart diseases and thus if left undiagnosed can lead to fatal complications.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Take iron supplements in case the weakness is due to anemia or blood loss. In severe cases of anemia, a blood transfusion will be required through an intravenous line.
  • Drink plenty of fluids if the weakness is due to dehydration.
  • Consult your doctor and get the underlying health conditions diagnosed.
Don'ts
  • Ignore dangerous symptoms like light-headedness, dizziness, slurred speech, confusion, breathing difficulty, vision changes etc.
  • Consume dry and hard foodstuff so as to reduce the residue left in the throat.
  • Eat foodstuff with mixed consistency (such as cereal with milk, salad with juice etc.) so as avoid aspiration (accidentally going into lungs) of food.

 

 

 

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Easy and safe tips for ear wax removal you can do at home Cerumen impaction generally occurs when an external object like cotton swabs are used to remove the ear wax.…
TSH test
TSH Test – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone TSH test measures the level of thyroid secreting hormone in the blood. The level of this hormone is…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
blood elements analysis
Blood Element Analysis Test A blood element analysis is a blood test performed to measure the level of toxic elements such as…
beta 2 glycoprotein 1 IgG
Beta 2 Glycoprotein 1 IgG Beta 2 glycoprotein 1 antibody test involves detecting and measuring the presence of the IgG class of beta…
cystatin C
Cystatin C Test Cystatin C is a specific single-chain protein that is found in body fluids and is a biomarker for…
copper serum test
Copper Serum Test Copper serum test checks for abnormal levels of copper in the body. Both high and low levels of…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
Cordyceps: How the Caterpillar fungus works as a proven cancer-shield Strange as it may sound, but cordyceps or "caterpillar fungus", a fungus variety native to the Himalayas may…
GM Diet: The fastest way to lose weight or yet another hoax diet? General Motors started this trend of extreme dieting for 7 straight days to ensure its employees were able…
waterchestnut
Water Chestnuts: The tastiest ways to include this healthy tuber in your diet Water chestnut is not a nut after all. It is a tuber (much like the potatoes) growing close…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
Sciatica pain relief: Get rid of the pain with these easy daily tips Researchers have claimed that not only heat but icing the area too helps relieve sciatica pain. Find out…
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
Poop chart: Top things you didn’t you your poop could reveal about you Bristol poop chart was designed during the 1990s in order to help doctors identify various types of poops…
6 arguments in favour of glucosamine and where can you find it Studies have shown that glucosamine works by preventing the breakdown of cartilage of the joints. This is usually…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
dhea adrenal
Androstenedione Test Androstenedione is produced by the adrenal gland, the test of the levels of Androstenedione helps in the evaluation…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
calories healthy
Calories: How to keep a check on these for faster weight loss Did you know you can burn calories while sleeping? Calorie-burning is what causes weight loss. How much should…
hYdroxycut pills
Hydroxycut: How safe are these so-called weight loss supplements? Hydroxycut is a blend of several different ingredients formulated to promote weight loss; powered by a key weight…
Anhedonia: Does the chronic inability to feel joy affect you too? How often do you feel dragged down by an invisible force? Do you feel an inexplicable emotional numbness…
Plexus Slim: Is this pink slimming drink the ultimate one-stop fat burner? How effective is Plexus Slim in helping people lose weight? What are its ingredients? Can it be safely…
Ear infections check up
Troubled with ear infections? Find easy and instant home remedies here Ear infections are common in both children and adults and may lead to hearing loss if left untreated.…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
Top reasons why you need to pay attention to your vitamin B6 intake Vitamin B6- An essential water-soluble vitamin. Its deficiency leads to physical changes such as sores & glossy tongue…
liver cleanse detox
14 go-to foods that are best for a complete natural liver detox Liver cleanse can be achieved by just choosing or avoiding certain types of food. Liver itself is a detoxifying…
PROSTATE-SPECIFIC-ANTIGEN
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test Prostate specific antigen test is a blood test used to determine the presence of prostate cancer or any…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
HSV-IgM test
Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)-IgM Test The HSV-IgM class antibody is produced by the body a few days after an initial HSV infection and…
lp-pla2
LP-PLA2 Test The LP-PLA2 test is a test which is carried out to assess the levels of Lipoprotein-Associated Phospholipase A2…