In this lesson, we will uncover the mystery of lethargy. We will examine the definition, causes, and symptoms of lethargy.
We will also learn of the different diseases that have lethargy as a symptom.
Definition of Lethargy
Have you ever woken up and felt like it would be better to stay in bed? Felt so tired that it would be too much effort to get up? At what point does this feeling go from general tiredness to common lethargy to a medical condition that needs professional assistance? In this lesson, we will learn some of these common differences.Lethargy is defined as a state of sluggishness, inactivity, and apathy. Other words are also associated with lethargy, such as listless, tiredness, lack of energy, continued sleepiness, and others. All of us have had that feeling from time to time, and having a loss of energy naturally occurs after you’re physically engaged. Lethargy can also occur after long periods of time – days or weeks – when the body is physically or intellectually spent. A common collegiate time of feeling lethargic is after finals.
Students can spend days and perhaps weeks working hard to finish assignments from their professors, and at the end of the semester when they can take a break, they are exhausted mentally and physically. This would be considered lethargy.
Causes of Lethargy
Lethargy is typically a symptom of a disease, and it has varied levels of medical seriousness. Overworking for extended periods of time is a common cause of lethargy, but it is far from the only one. Other causes of lethargy could be divided into different types. These types would include physical and psychosocial; heart and vascular; and disease-related.Physical and Psychosocial:In our busy world, stress and overwork are a common source of lethargy.
After working in a high pressure, high demand position, it is easy for stress to use the physical and mental reserves a person would have, making him or her listless and tired. Other times, lethargy can be caused by lack of exercise, alcohol use, or eating disorders. In these cases, the less you do, the more lethargic you can feel, and this can become a vicious cycle that is difficult to overcome. This could lead to disorders, such as depression or anxiety, which also have related lethargy. At this point, medical assistance should be sought.
Heart and Circulatory Diseases:Heart and circulatory diseases can create lethargy as a result of diseases such as cardiomyopathy or stroke. These patients can have lethargy due to their inability to move well and tire easily due to their compromised physical ability. The heart does not pump blood well, resulting in less oxygen being distributed to the body, and the body cannot keep moving and must rest.
This can decrease the patient’s motivation and ability to exercise, leading to less exercise, greater lethargy and increased risk of greater disease.Neurological Diseases:Diseases of the neurological system can also cause lethargy, and examples of these include fibromyalgia and Parkinson’s disease. Diseases such as these have joint discomfort or stiffness, which may cause those affected to move less. Since they cannot move well without pain, this may increase their lethargy.
When Lethargy Becomes Serious
There are serious or life-threatening causes of lethargy. Some of these would include arrhythmia, drug overdose, internal bleeding, or trauma, and would require immediate medical attention.
This urgency is due to lethargy being a symptom of a more serious medical problem or problems. These diseases have lethargy as a symptom that the body is likely shutting down, and that it does not have the energy to move as it normally would. When a person is suffering at this level, emergency care should be immediate.
Being tired usually happens after a person physically exerts themselves, but what if you are tired and you have not worked? This is when it is considered lethargy, which is defined as a state of sluggishness, inactivity, and apathy. Lethargy is primarily caused by overworking for extended periods of time, like furiously studying for finals, but it may be a sign of greater disease that should have medical assistance.Diseases such as cardiomyopathy (which is usually when the hearth doesn’t pump well, making the body exhausted) and fibromyalgia (which is basically chronic soreness in the body) leave the body weak and can cause lethargy as patients cannot move well or have limited mobility. Neurological diseases can cause difficulty in moving joints, which can lead to greater lethargy. However, life-threatening lethargy should be addressed immediately, as it could be a sign of a greater disease that could kill you. This can be seen in patients who simply can’t care for themselves due to their lethargy.