Weakness is the feeling of body fatigue, or tiredness. A
person experiencing weakness may not be able to move a certain part of their
body properly. They may also experience tremors, which are uncontrollable movements, or twitches in
the area of weakness.
Some people experience weakness in a certain area of their
body, such as the arms or legs. Others may experience full-body weakness, which
is often the result of a bacterial or viral infection such as influenza or
hepatitis. Weakness may be temporary, but it’s chronic or continuous in some
Common causes of weakness include:
- the flu
- thyroid disease
- anemia, which can occur from excessive loss of
blood during menstruation
- a lack of sleep
- poorly controlled or undiagnosed diabetes
- congestive heart failure
- vitamin B-12 deficiency
- medication side effects, which often occur when
taking mild tranquilizers to treat anxiety
- polymyositis, which is an inflammatory muscle
Other causes of weakness include:
- a heart attack
- nerve or muscle injuries
- diseases affecting the nerves or muscles
- medication overdose
- vitamin overdose
Although weakness caused by cancer may appear slowly over an
extended amount of time, weakness caused by a heart attack or stroke often
In addition to experiencing weakness, other symptoms such as
difficulty breathing, pain, and irregular heartbeat may occur. Call 911 if you
experience sudden weakness. Don’t try
to drive yourself to the hospital.
Are the Symptoms of Weakness?
If you feel weak in one area of your body, you may find that
you can’t move that part of your body efficiently. You may also experience:
- delayed or slow movement
- uncontrollable shaking, or tremors
- muscle twitching
- muscle cramps
Full-body weakness causes you to feel run down, similar to
the feeling you get when you have the flu. This is known as fatigue, but it’s also
possible to experience full- body weakness without feeling tired.
Some people who experience full-body weakness also
experience fever, flu-like symptoms, or pain in the affected area.
You should contact your doctor if you experience any of the
- difficulty speaking
- changes in vision
- chest pain
- difficulty breathing
Is the Cause of Weakness Diagnosed?
There are many treatment options for weakness. Determining
the underlying cause helps your doctor determine the best method of treatment.
When you visit your doctor, they’ll go over your symptoms. They’ll ask you when
you began experiencing symptoms. This will give your doctor some ideas about
what may be causing you to feel weak.
Your doctor may request that you give a urine sample. They may
also take a blood sample from you and send it to a lab for testing. The lab
will test these samples for signs of infection and possible medical conditions
that may cause weakness. If you’re experiencing pain, your doctor may also
order an imaging test to have a look at the area. Imaging tests may include:
- MRI scans
- CT scans
Your doctor will order a brain scan and electrocardiogram if
they suspect you’re having or have had a heart attack or stroke.
What Are the Treatment Options for Weakness?
Once your doctor diagnoses the cause of weakness, they’ll
discuss treatment options with you. Treatment may not be necessary if the
weakness is due to a cold or the flu.
If you’re dehydrated, increasing your fluid intake can help.
However, if you’re showing severe symptoms of dehydration, you may require
hospital treatment. At the hospital, you’ll receive fluids through an
intravenous line. You may also need medication to increase your blood pressure.
At this point, the weakness may begin to subside.
If the cause of your weakness is cancer, your doctor will provide
you with treatment options. The stage, location, and body structure involved
all help to determine a good course of treatment. Treatment options for cancer
include chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and surgery.
Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments can also cause
If your weakness is due to blood loss, you may need iron
supplementation if it appears that you’re iron deficient. You may need a blood
transfusion if your anemia is severe. If you need a blood transfusion, you’ll
receive one in the hospital. This treatment consists of receiving donor blood
through an intravenous line.
Your doctor will provide you with treatment options for
weakness caused by a heart attack.
Is the Long-Term Outlook?
Some of the causes of weakness are a part of normal life.
For example, if you have weakness due to a cold, time and rest should
eventually clear up your weakness. If you have weakness that originates from a
more serious condition, seeing your doctor early and regularly can help you
recover from weakness more quickly.
Taking care of your physical health is a good preventive
measure. Drinking plenty of fluids, getting adequate rest, and exercising
regularly can help your recover from weakness and also prevent it.