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Asthenia: Definition, Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:00 What is Asthenia?
  • 1:16 Symptoms
  • 2:05 Causes
  • 2:24 Treatment
  • 2:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

Have you ever felt like you lacked muscle strength and energy to get things done? If so, you may have experienced asthenia. Read this lesson to learn about what asthenia is, what the causes and symptoms are, and possible treatment options.

What is Asthenia?

Asthenia is the medical term for loss of strength, weakness, or lack of energy. Asthenia is often a symptom in itself, indicative of a broader problem. It is also experienced differently by each patient, making diagnosis of the underlying problem quite tricky.

Typically, the term asthenia applies to situations where a person experiences fatigue, disturbances in their sleep patterns, and hyperesthesia, or an increase in sensitivity to various stimuli. Only portions of the body may be affected, or the entire body may be affected. Symptoms of asthenia make it difficult for the affected individual to perform or finish a task, and the experienced weakness may be categorized as true weakness or perceived weakness.

True weaknesses are characterized by an actual loss in muscle strength and capability and are caused by injury or muscle defect. Perceived weakness is a non-neuromuscular response where the person has the perception that he can't finish a task due to weakness, though his muscles are physiologically functioning normally.

Asthenia can affect anyone and doesn't discriminate based on age, race, or gender. Symptoms can be short-term, chronic, or intermittent.

Symptoms

Symptoms may affect the entire body or may be localized to a particular area of the body. When the entire body is affected, common symptoms include feeling like you have the flu, fever, tiredness, lack of energy, physical discomfort, loss of muscle strength, inability to complete tasks, slow movements, and feeling unsteady. When only parts of the body are affected, common symptoms include slow movements, muscle twitching, tremors or shaking when exerting effort, and muscle cramps.

When asthenia is present with other symptoms, it may be indicative of a more serious problem and should be brought to the attention of a qualified health care provider. These additional symptoms may include changes in mental state, confusion, slurred speech, extreme pain, changes in vision, and loss of consciousness.

Causes

Asthenia is caused by a number of things, but the most common culprits are lifestyle, age, infections, chronic diseases, pregnancy, anxiety or depression, reactions to certain medications, drug abuse, vitamin deficiencies, chronic pain, and treatments for other diseases, like chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

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