Lethargy
It is normal to have periods of low energy when one needs to rest and recuperate. However, if low energy persists and a person continually fee...

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Definition

Lethargy is a state of generalized fatigue or sluggishness, sometimes with decreased alertness.

Alternative Names

Lethargic.

Synopsis

It is normal to have periods of low energy when one needs to rest and recuperate. However, if low energy persists and a person continually feels sluggish, disinterested in life, and has low energy, the situation should be investigated by a physician. Depression is a common cause of lethargy, but there may be other medical problems causing low energy, such as low thyroid hormone.

Associated Diagnoses

  • Depression
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Major depression
  • Post-partum depression
  • Lyme disease
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Reye’s syndrome
  • Sleep apnea
  • Pituitary cancer
  • Kidney failure
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Side effects of medications
  • Narcotic overdose

Diagnosis and Treatment

A thorough evaluation by a physician is indicated for persistent lethargy. The treatment will depend on the underlying problem and the severity of the symptoms.

Call 911 if:

Lethargy worsens and leads to decreased responsiveness or if a person is difficult to arouse, unable to answer questions or does not know their name or where they are.

Written by: JC Jones MA, RN
Reviewed by: Paul Auerbach, MD
Written: September 18, 2007
Last Updated: September 30, 2007
Published By: Healthline Networks Inc.
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