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ValerianPhysiological and/or psychological state characterized by diminished capacity to perform, and usually accompanied by a feeling of tiredness. It normally results from exertion beyond one's normal ability, but may also be caused or aggravated by ill health, physical and emotional aspects of the work environment, worries, or mental conflict.

Weakness and fatigue are terms that are often used as if they mean the same thing, but in fact they 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.

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Fatigue is a feeling of tiredness, exhaustion, or lack of energy. You may feel mildly fatigued because of overwork, poor sleep, worry, boredom, or lack of exercise. Any illness, such as a cold or the flu, may cause fatigue, which usually goes away as the illness clears up. Most of the time, mild fatigue occurs with a health problem that will improve with home treatment and does not require a visit to a health professional.

A stressful emotional situation may also cause fatigue. This type of fatigue usually clears up when the stress is relieved.

Many prescription and non-prescription medicines can cause weakness or fatigue. The use or abuse of alcohol, caffeine, or illegal drugs can cause fatigue.

A visit to a health professional usually is needed when fatigue occurs along with more serious symptoms, such as increased breathing difficulties, signs of a serious illness, abnormal bleeding, or unexplained weight loss or gain.

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Fatigue that lasts longer than 2 weeks usually requires a visit to a health professional. This type of fatigue may be caused by a more serious health problem, such as:

  • A decrease in the amount of oxygen-carrying substance (hemoglobin) found in red blood cells (anemia).
  • Problems with the heart, such as coronary artery disease or heart failure, that limit the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle or the rest of the body.
  • Metabolic disorders, such as diabetes, in which sugar (glucose) remains in the blood rather than entering the body’s cells to be used for energy.
  • Problems with the thyroid gland, which regulates the way the body uses energy.
    • A low thyroid level (hypothyroidism) can cause fatigue, weakness, lethargy, weight gain, depression, memory problems, constipation, dry skin, intolerance to cold, coarse and thinning hair, brittle nails, or a yellowish tint to the skin.
    • A high thyroid level (hyperthyroidism) can cause fatigue, weight loss, increased heart rate, intolerance to heat, sweating, irritability, anxiety, muscle weakness, and thyroid enlargement.
  • Kidney disease and liver disease, which cause fatigue when the concentration of certain chemicals in the blood builds up to toxic level

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Home Remedies

Natural Treatment of Fatigue

  • Eat small mid-meals at 11 a.m., 4 p.m. and before retiring to bed.
  • Seeds, nuts and grains, fruits and vegetables should be included in the diet.
  • Sprouts increase nutritional value of foods and create new vitamins.
  • Deficiency of Vitamin B and Pantothenic acid causes fatigue.
  • Banana, milk, nuts, green leafy vegetables, peas, pulses, whole-grain cereals, rice polishing and yeast should be consumed for the same.
  • Calcium, potassium, zinc, sodium and other minerals are also beneficial.
  • A combination of carrot juice, beetroot juice and cucumber juice helps overcome fatigue.
  • Alcohol, coffee, smoking, eating sweets, aspirin, tranquilizer and other drugs which give only a temporary boost should be avoided.

If you have suggestions or know of a proven home remedy add it here in the comment area.

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Herbal Remedies

Black tea A cup of black tea contains about 30 mg of caffeine. Doses of roughly 60 mg--the equivalent of 2 cups--act as a stimulant to increase the activity of the central nervous system. To prepare, pour 1 cup boiling water over 11/2 teaspoons black tea leaves. Let steep for 5 minutes, then strain and drink.

Valerian A sleeping aid for more than 2,000 years, valerian is helpful in treating stress-induced fatigue. Use 1 cup boiling water to 1/2 to 1 teaspoon minced fresh roots to make a bedtime tea. Or mix a few drops of valerian extract or tincture into a glass of warm water. Use for longer than two weeks is not recommended.

If you have suggestions or know of a proven herbal remedy add it here in the comment area.

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Wellness Program

If you think your fatigue is physical, or even mental, try some of these things.

- Get more sleep and rest. You may want to look at your sleep patterns. Do you have insomnia or sleep apnea? Sometimes, these are side-effects of TBI. If either of these problems is affecting how well you sleep, tell your doctor. There may be treatments.

- Try to change your schedule. Do the things that require the most physical or mental effort earlier when you are fresher. Don't save the grocery shopping for evening. Don't try to balance the checkbook or figure out your income taxes in the evening either.

- Allow time for rests during the day. After one of these rests, you may be fresh again and able to take on some of those more difficult tasks - like the checkbook!

- Start exercising. You may need to check first with your therapist or doctor to find out which is the best and safest type of exercise program for you. Start gradually and then increase. Hopefully, your physical endurance and your mental alertness will improve. Eating a good, nutritious diet will also help. Research has shown that people with TBI who exercise have fewer symptoms and better cognitive function. They feel their health is better, and say that they are less depressed. They may be more mobile and more productive. Participating in a wellness program may be a good idea.

- If you have mental fatigue, keep your eye on the research. Some new drugs are now being researched. Craig Hospital is currently studying one of these drugs. In the future we'll be writing another brochure to tell you about this study.

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