health Nov 11, 2021

Asthenia is the medical term used for weakness, loss of strength or lack of energy, and the feeling of body fatigue or tiredness.
It is described as the lack of energy to move certain muscles, or even all muscles in the body. So, the person experiencing it may not be able to move a certain part of their body properly such as the arms or legs, or it may affect the entire body.
It is a generalized weakness involving both mental and physical fatigue and is a psychopathological condition characterized by extreme acute or chronic loss of strength.
Asthenia causes disturbances in the sleep patterns, and hyperesthesia, or an increase in sensitivity to various stimuli.
The weakness experienced due to asthenia may be categorized as true weakness or perceived weakness.
True weaknesses are caused by injury or defect in the muscle due to which muscle strength and capability are lost.
Perceived weakness is a non-neuromuscular response where the person has the perception but is unable to complete the work due to weakness, though his muscles are physiologically functioning normally.

According to the underlying cause, asthenia may be classified into

Alcohol asthenia: common in alcoholics.
Asthenic depression: causes sudden uncontrollable mood swings, impaired concentration, memory loss, and impatience.
Asthenia with flu: viral infection causes muscular weakness, making patients irritable, and reducing capacity to work.
Cerebro asthenic syndrome: a previously unknown infection or head injury causes interruption of the metabolism of brain neurons due to which the patient is unable to control emotions.
Expressed asthenic syndrome: Also known as an organic asthenic disorder that occurs due to underlying organic brain disorder. It alters the mental states of patients causing tension and more sensitivity to stimuli during stressful periods.
Nerve asthenic syndrome: where the central nervous system is greatly weakened and   the affected individual may be in a bad mood, irritable, and very aggressive.
Vegetative syndrome: This type of asthenia can be seen in adults and children during periods of serious infection.
Weakness experienced due to asthenia, may be temporary or chronic or continuous in some cases.

Symptoms may be short-term, chronic, or intermittent.

Short-term weakness may occur because of overwork, stress, or lack of sleep, after overcoming an illness, such as a cold or the flu.
If the weakness is chronic, or intermittent, one should visit the doctor early and regularly to recover more quickly.

Reasons and risk factors

The reasons for asthenia may be anemia, adrenal disease, aging, cancer, congestive heart failure, diseases affecting the nerves or muscles, depression or anxiety,  electrolyte imbalances, flu, heart attack, influenza, lack of sleep, medication side effects  which occur due to mild tranquilizers taken to treat anxiety, medication overdose, malnutrition, nerve or muscle injuries, poorly managed or undiagnosed diabetes, poisoning (Organophosphates), stroke, sedentary lifestyle, sleep apnea,  thyroid disease, urinary tract infections,  vitamin B-12 deficiency, and vitamin overdose.
Shift work, sleep disorder, sedentary lifestyle, infections, other sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, diabetes with either high or low blood sugars, and narcotics are the risk factors for asthenia.

Personal Remedies and precautions

  • maintaining  an active lifestyle by doing exercise regularly ( If  feeling  too tired while doing  vigorous exercise, better to have a short walk),
  • spending at least 30 minutes outdoors relaxes mind and body, reduces stress and may have a positive effect on mental health.
  • taking a proper healthy and balanced diet full of nutrients (Foods rich in calcium, protein and less in fats) keeps the body recharged with energy and reduces fatigue.
  • getting enough sleep.
  • dealing with emotional problems instead of ignoring or denying them,
  • taking steps to control stress and workload
  • avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • avoiding dieting
  • to avoid dehydration, fluid intake has to be increased. However, if the symptoms of dehydration are severe, hospital treatment is required.
  • taking extra rest during ill
  • avoiding or limiting junk foods high in sugar and fat.
  • managing blood sugar levels by changing  lifestyle including diet and exercise
  • taking care of physical health is a good preventive measure.
  • eating unprocessed foods, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and complex carbs, nuts, taking vitamins and supplements, drinking plenty of water and non-caffeinated beverages may control weakness caused due to asthenia.

If the weakness originates from a more serious condition, visiting the doctor early and regularly can help the recovery more quickly.

Asthenia can affect anyone and it cannot be discriminated on the grounds of race, sex, or age, but women are known to be more susceptible than men and are more likely to develop asthenia between age 40s and 50s.


A. Sandhya

M.Sc Zoology

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