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Asthenia Medical Definition, Causes and Treatment

Asthenia is the medical term used to mean “fatigue”. It is a vague term because fatigue is very difficult to measure. On the other hand, it may correspond to normal fatigue or the symptom of a disease. Also, when fatigue seems abnormally intense and disproportionate to a person’s lifestyle, is it advisable to see a doctor to find the origin.

Definition of Asthenia

The word “Asthenia” comes from the Greek “sthenos” (force, vigor), and has an a-privative. It would therefore correspond originally to a lack of strength and vigor. Asthenia refers to a feeling of generalized fatigue, disproportionate and without any apparent reason.

Causes of Asthenia

A large number of pathologies can cause asthenia. We distinguish organic causes (diseases), functional and psychic causes.

Organic causes:

  • Infections (hepatitis, mononucleosis, tuberculosis, HIV, Lyme disease, and all infectious diseases in general);
  • Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases: Hypothyroidism (decreased secretion of thyroid hormones resulting from dysfunction of the thyroid gland), Cushing’s syndrome, ante-hypophyseal insufficiency, hypogonadism …;
  • Metabolic diseases: diabetes, chronic renal failure, malnutrition, hyponatremia, hypokalemia, hypercalcemia …;
  • Anemia (blood disease characterized by a lack of red blood cells), iron deficiency;
  • Cancer and associated treatments (chemotherapy, radiotherapy);
  • Digestive diseases (irritable bowel, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease);
  • Autoimmune disease (lupus, sarcoidosis, rheumatoid polyarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, etc.);
  • Neurological disorders (Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia, sleep apnea syndrome …);
  • Drugs (neuroleptic, beta-blocker);
  • Liver disorders (hepatitis, hemochromatosis, cirrhosis …);
  • Cardiovascular diseases (heart failure, infarction suites …);
  • Stroke and its consequences;
  • And many other diseases…

Psychic causes:

The depression and anxiety are the main psychological cause’s responsible asthenia.

Chronic fatigue syndrome

There is one disease that is essentially characterized by recurrent fatigue called chronic fatigue syndrome. This is a relatively new disease that still raises many questions, especially about its origin and the role that depression and its treatment might play.

Diagnosis of Asthenia

The physician asks the person who is consulting about fatigue, its intensity and frequency, the purpose of which is whether it is temporary or permanent fatigue and whether there are easily identifiable causes. The doctor also asks questions to differentiate fatigue from drowsiness that is due to particular diseases.

The search for associated symptoms is essential to determine the origin of asthenia. The medical examination and then the additional examinations make it possible to guide the diagnosis.

Treatment of Asthenia

The treatment of asthenia depends on its cause. It can be medicated in case of infection, hormonal imbalance, cancer or other diseases and associations between drugs and psychotherapy in case of depression or chronic anxiety.

The Anti-asthenia treatment (containing vitamins, amino acids, trace elements) are recommended when the fatigue is commonplace due to occupational fatigue, family, examinations or competitions and that no organic cause is found.

Whatever the pathology involved, it is recommended to allow a sufficient number of hours of sleep and a balanced diet.

Prevention of Asthenia

Prevention is based on:

  • A healthy lifestyle: sleep well, avoid stress, and eat well.
  • Take into account right away the mental disorders in order to treat them quickly.
  • Treatment of disorders that can cause asthenia.
  • Complementary approaches to asthenia

Several complementary approaches make it possible to fight against asthenia when it comes to ordinary fatigue without underlying disease.

Food supplements

  • A number of food supplements are interesting in case of asthenia:
  • Acerola, which is a real concentrate of vitamin C,
  • afalfa, which is particularly anti-anemic thanks to its richness in iron and trace elements,
  • royal jelly or ginger, especially when combined with ginseng and spirulina,
  • maca, against anemia and as a general tonic,
  • the Rhodiola in association with wolfberry (goji berry is one of the fruits richest in vitamin C in the world).
  • These dietary supplements exist as natural products to be consumed as such or in capsule form.


Among the essential oils (HE) most indicated to fight asthenia include:

In case of mental Asthenia:

  • Peppermint EO to breathe in a tissue,
  • The noble Laurel HE,
  • In case of physical fatigue:
  • Black spruce HE,
  • Scotch pine HE
  • Black pepper.

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