General Weakness

General Weakness: Overview

Weakness and fatigue are terms that are often interchanged but in fact describe two different sensations.  It is important to know exactly what you mean when you say, "I feel weak" or "I am fatigued" because it can help you and your health professional narrow down the possible causes of your symptoms. Weakness is a lack of physical or muscle strength and the feeling that extra effort is needed to perform daily activities that require you to move your arms, legs, or other muscles.  Fatigue is a feeling of tiredness, exhaustion, or lack of energy.

Both weakness and fatigue are symptoms – not diseases.  Because these symptoms can be caused by many other health problems, the importance of weakness and fatigue can only be determined when other symptoms are evaluated.

Causes and Development

General weakness often occurs after you have overexerted yourself, such as by taking an extra-long hike.  You may feel weak and tired or your muscles may be sore.  These sensations usually clear up within a few days.  Rarely, generalized muscle weakness may be caused by another health problem, such as:

Seek medical attention if...

Muscle weakness that is getting progressively worse requires a visit to a health professional.  Sudden muscle weakness and loss of function in one area of the body can indicate a serious problem within the brain (such as a stroke or transient ischemic attack) or spinal cord or with a specific nerve in the body.

General Weakness

Information On This Page

Signs, symptoms & indicators of General Weakness:

Symptoms - General

Conditions that suggest General Weakness:

Mental

Dizziness may suggest General WeaknessDizziness
General weakness or deconditioning of the body can produce dizziness.

Risk factors for General Weakness:

Autoimmune

Diet

Effects of a Low Carbohydrate Diet increases risk of General WeaknessEffects of a Low Carbohydrate Diet
Gradually increasing weakness is a sign of ketosis.  The May 2004 Annals of Internal Medicine study showed that most of the Atkins Dieters suffered significantly more general weakness.
Dehydration often increases risk of General WeaknessDehydration
A loss of 4-5% of body weight of fluid decreases the capacity for hard muscular work by 20-30%.

Digestion

Environment / Toxicity

Hormones

Andropause/Male Menopause often increases risk of General WeaknessAndropause/Male Menopause
The sensation of weakness, especially muscle weakness, may be due to the loss of muscle mass seen in andropause.

Infections

Mental

Metabolic

Nutrients

Organ Health

Tumors, Malignant

General Weakness suggests the following may be present:

Autoimmune

Diet

General Weakness may suggest Effects of a Low Carbohydrate DietEffects of a Low Carbohydrate Diet
Gradually increasing weakness is a sign of ketosis.  The May 2004 Annals of Internal Medicine study showed that most of the Atkins Dieters suffered significantly more general weakness.

Digestion

Environment / Toxicity

Hormones

Laboratory Test Needed

Nutrients

Organ Health

Tumors, Malignant

Recommendations for General Weakness:

Diet

Not recommended:
Therapeutic Fasting is sometimes not recommended for General WeaknessTherapeutic Fasting
Fasting should not be employed if a general weakness exists due to malnutrition.

Mineral

Potassium may help with General WeaknessPotassium
Sometimes weakness may be improved by potassium consumption, when dietary potassium is low.

KEY

Weak or unproven link: may suggest; may increase risk of
Weak or unproven link:
may suggest; may increase risk of
Strong or generally accepted link: often increases risk of; often suggests
Strong or generally accepted link:
often increases risk of; often suggests
Definite or direct link: is a sign or symptom of; increases risk of
Definite or direct link:
is a sign or symptom of; increases risk of
May be useful: may help with
May be useful:
may help with
Caution: is sometimes not recommended for
Caution:
is sometimes not recommended for