Medical quality assurance by Dr. Albrecht Nonnenmacher, MD at December 10, 2015

Everyone feels weary and tired from time to time. There is often a reason for it and it can quickly be fixed. But when this weariness is felt daily for an extended period of time, there is usually something that is causing it that may require medical treatment.


Definition & Facts

Weariness is a state of feeling run down for a longer period of time. It slowly gets worse over time and is intense. Weariness will begin to drain a person's energy and make it difficult for them to concentrate. They will not be as sharp mentally as they usually are.

When a person is in this stage of weariness, their psychological and emotional well-being is often impacted. Weariness often leaves a person feeling like they are tired and do not have the motivation to do anything, but it isn't the same as just being sleepy. Most of the time weariness can be traced back to a habit or routine that a person has, but sometimes there is a medical problem that needs to be treated.


There are a variety of things that could be causing a person's weariness. These different causes are put into three categories: lifestyle, medical problems, and psychological issues.

Lifestyle Causes:

Medical Problems:

Psychological Issues:

When to see a doctor

If a person begins to feel weariness, they should do what they can to try and remedy it. This should be done by eating healthy, making sure they are drinking plenty of fluids, getting the rest they need, and doing what they can to reduce stress. If all of the things have been done and the weariness continues for two weeks or more, an appointment should be made with a doctor.

If someone with weariness begins to have severe pelvic, back, or abdominal pain, severe headaches, or they begin to bleed abnormally, which could be from the rectum or by vomiting blood, medical attention is immediately required. If the weariness a person feels is due to a psychological issue and they begin to have thoughts of hurting themselves or someone else, it is time to seek immediate medical attention.

Immediate medical attention is also necessary if the weary person begins to feel a shortness of breath, chest pains, a heartbeat that is faster than normal or irregular, and if they feel like they are going to pass out.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment for weariness will depend on what the cause of it is. Someone with weariness will need to work with their doctor in order to determine what is causing it and then determine a treatment plan. The doctor will begin by giving a full physical examination of the patient.

They will look at the physical appearance of the patient as well as checking vital signs, examining the different systems within the body (heart, abdomen, lungs, and so on), and check the thyroids. In addition to the physical aspects of the patient, the doctor will need to get information about their psychological well-being and their social situation. They will inquire about drug and alcohol use as well as ask questions about the patient's history of weariness.

Once a doctor has thoroughly evaluated a patient, they will be able to narrow down or determine what the cause of the weariness is. This will then allow them to come up with a treatment plan. If the cause is due to a person's lifestyle, the treatment may be something as simple as avoiding caffeine, putting a plan for exercising in place, reducing the amount of medication the person is taking, or helping them with getting a good night's sleep.

If the cause is determined to be a medical problem, the doctor will then treat that specific problem. It could be working with the person on losing weight, giving them additional iron if they are anemic, determining if there are any prescription medications that are not needed or can be reduced, or possibly add a medication that can help with other medical problems. The treatment for a psychological cause could be medication, therapy, or time.

Prevention & Prophylaxis

There are a variety of things that can be done to prevent weariness. First, is to ensure that a regular physical is completed. This will help give a doctor the chance to determine if a person has a medical problem that needs to be treated. Treating medical problems are essential in maintaining a person's health. Being physically active can also help with preventing weariness.

Sometimes weariness is caused by inactivity, ensuring that a person is physically active on a daily basis can help. Physical activity can also help with a person's overall health helping to prevent weariness that can be caused by a medical problem. Drink plenty of water on a daily basis. When a person does not drink enough water, they can become dehydrated which can cause them to feel tired and unmotivated. Getting plenty of rest will also help to prevent weariness as well as having other benefits for a person's health.

Work at losing any extra weight a person may have. Even if it is just a small amount of extra weight that is lost, it can not only help to prevent weariness in some cases, but can help with their overall health. Lastly, a person should eat more often. Eating more often can often help people keep their blood sugar at a steady level, which will reduce weariness in some.

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