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Feeling weak for no apparent reason? What can be the causes?
Everyone knows weakness - temporarily. We usually know the reasons for this ourselves. We have overworked, our relationship is in a crisis, we have lovesickness or stress at work. In addition to these psychological causes of weakness, we can also easily assess many physical causes: a cold is on the way or a flu infection. Feelings of weakness can also herald a serious illness. We feel listless and listless, dull and often sleepy.
Where do we feel weak?
We can feel weak all over the body or only in a certain place. We can distinguish weakness from weak muscles in individual parts of the body. Because if a muscle is too weak, we cannot lift an object - we notice that it is too heavy. If we feel weak, we cannot lift at all - nothing easy either.
Depending on where we feel this weakness, our hips sag when we put pressure on the corresponding leg, and when there is weakness in the legs, the knees fail. With a weakness in the back we have to sit down or lean, with a weakness in the neck we cannot hold the neck upright.
The weakness in the body regions is often due to tension in the connective tissue of the skin. This is so tense that the muscles cannot work; they are so "wrapped up" that they don't move.
A general feeling of weakness without psychological triggers or basic illnesses is mostly due to incorrect breathing. If the respiratory muscles are so tense that the lungs cannot expand, the body does not get enough oxygen and therefore too little energy.
Feelings of weakness can have a variety of causes, and further symptoms are therefore important to make a diagnosis. Natural triggers are jet lag or a change in the weather or traveling in an unusual climate.
Fatigue is also a typical symptom of serious illnesses, for example anemia. The doctor can easily determine this by measuring the iron content in the blood.
Persistent weakness is also a classic symptom of a depressive illness. At the same time, depression occurs as a comorbidity from other serious illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, heart problems and Parkinson's. All of these diseases are also associated with a general feeling of weakness.
Depression can be recognized by other symptoms. For example, those who feel weak due to jet lag or a cold do not lack self-esteem and are not plagued by guilt or compulsive fears. However, they are classic for depression.
In addition, someone who feels weak without a corresponding mental disorder does not lose interest in fun activities, neglect their friendships or lose their hobbies. On the contrary: people who feel weak because of a change in the weather, for example, are often annoyed that they cannot do what they want to do.
In women, menstruation and premenstrual syndrome are often the trigger for general weakness, which usually lasts until the third day of the period. Other changes in the hormonal balance are accompanied by feelings of weakness, namely menopause and puberty.
Parents despair of pubescent children who lie in bed unwashed for hours, “get into their shoes” or claim to be too tired for a weekend trip they wanted themselves. This is also due to the change of moods typical of old age, but this "moody" behavior can in turn have to do with real feelings of weakness.
General feelings of weakness
General feelings of weakness often have a psychosomatic cause. Nowadays, a major trigger is negative stress, i.e. the feeling of being physically, mentally and emotionally overwhelmed. This often goes to someone with precarious living conditions.
A lack of movement clogs the vessels, which means that the brain is less supplied with blood. Those affected suffer from poor concentration, general weakness and learning disorders. If the performance drops with the lack of exercise, those affected are considered unsportsmanlike and no longer take part in the physical testing of their peers.
The lack of movement also leads to a vicious cycle. If general feelings of weakness result from a lack of exercise, then the weakness in turn means that those affected can increasingly overcome the difficulty of moving, and as a result the feeling of weakness continues to increase.
In the end, there can be chronically bad feelings that expand into serious problems: insomnia, alcoholism or depression.
Various diseases go hand in hand with feelings of weakness. Typical are: cold, gastrointestinal flu, rheumatism, myocardial inflammation, hypothyroidism, stroke, low blood pressure, high blood pressure, intestinal inflammation, ulcerative colitis, kidney and liver diseases, hormone disorders, autoimmune diseases, lung diseases and cancer (especially intestinal, lung, Pancreas, liver, kidney and brain tumors).
Colds and flu infections are the first symptoms of weakness. In addition, there is an itch in the nose and throat, headache, chills, then hoarseness, sore throat, runny nose, cough, body aches and fever. Fatigue increases as the disease progresses.
With Pfeiffer's glandular fever, swollen lymph nodes in the throat and neck are added to the general weakness, as well as fever and sore throat.
With sinusitis, fatigue is accompanied by a feeling of pressure in the nose and forehead, chronic runny nose and headache, hoarseness and cough.
Anemia is shown in addition to fatigue with a pale facial skin, dizziness and sensitivity to cold.
Too high blood pressure leads to general weakness as well as to low blood pressure. Those who suffer from low blood pressure feel particularly weak in the morning. He gets tired quickly during the day. In addition there are cold feet and hands, also depressive moods and sleep problems.
High blood pressure goes unnoticed longer than lower. In addition to general weakness, dizziness when getting up or stooping, difficulty breathing and palpitations, nosebleeds and sleep disorders are early signs.
General feelings of weakness and fatigue are a key symptom of heart failure. Because weak heart functions affect most other organs, and so various insufficiently working parts of the body lead to weakness.
If the left half of the heart is working too weakly, this is shown by difficulty breathing, coughing at night and problems similar to asthma. If the right half of the heart is affected, the feet swell and the blood accumulates in the neck veins. Sick people gain weight even when they eat little, and digestion is disturbed.
Every heart weakness is accompanied by nightly urge to urinate, heartbeat disorders, damp and cold skin, insomnia and unfounded fears.
Heartbeat that is too slow (bradycardia) begins with a general feeling of weakness, which increases in severe attacks of weakness and even leads to brief loss of consciousness. There are also sweats, shortness of breath and chest tightness.
An inflammation of the heart muscle, caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi, is shown by general weakness, shortness of breath and disturbances in the heart rhythm. The heart, chest and muscles also hurt.
Diseases of the lungs
Lung diseases, whether pneumonia or lung cancer, mean that breathing is disturbed. With this we take up too little oxygen and therefore we feel weak. Bronchitis also leads to exhaustion and fatigue. Diseases of the lungs show up in addition to general weakness with shortness of breath, cough, fever, headache and body aches.
Weakness is also a key symptom of kidney diseases, especially inflammation of the kidneys and chronic kidney failure. In addition to fatigue, kidney inflammation also shows edema on the face, eyes, hands and feet, as well as headaches and body aches.
Kidney failure shows up with frequent and uncontrolled urination, pain around the kidneys, exhaustion and pallor. In addition there are visual disturbances, itching on the skin, nausea, loss of consciousness and a strong bad breath after dried urine.
The liver produces hormones, organizes metabolism and removes pollutants. Therefore liver damage affects the entire organism. Liver disease is associated with general weakness. These include alcohol heptatitis, fatty liver of alcoholics, cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis due to obesity, viral infections, poisoning and side effects of medication.
In addition to exhaustion there is a lack of drive and a lack of appetite. The belly bloats, those in the upper abdomen feel a feeling of pressure. The feces are very light or very dark, the urine takes on a dark yellow-brown color.
If the stomach and therefore work insufficiently, then those affected suffer from severe exhaustion, abdominal pain and diarrhea. In the case of diarrhea, weakness is exacerbated by a lack of potassium.
Crohn's disease, stomach ulcers and intestinal inflammation often lead to anemia. This in turn leads to a lack of vitamin B12 and folic acid and this manifests itself in chronic fatigue.
Even those who suffer from an upset stomach because they cannot tolerate certain foods get tired quickly and feel weak.
Alcoholism has both physical and psychosocial consequences, and both are associated with feelings of weakness. The poisoning of the entire organism and damage to important organs such as the brain, liver and heart weaken the performance as well as the increasing despair of the sick.
They increasingly isolate themselves to hide their addiction. Apart from other victims, nobody wants to have anything to do with them at some point because they tell confusing things, do not appear on appointments or are hopelessly drunk.
The sick cannot control their feelings, project their problem onto other people, are hypersensitive to criticism, express joy, anger, grief and anger too violently. The addiction also leads to indifference towards former hobbies, friendships and the family.
While some alcoholics try to control the effects of excessive exercise in the early stages of their illness, their general weakness often goes unnoticed by other people. But the more the physical decline progresses, the less the general weakness can be denied. At some point, those affected just barely stagger to the kiosk to get the next dose of their addictive substance.
Diabetics are well aware of weakness and fatigue is a burden. Weakness is often a very early symptom. Those affected then realize that they have a problem because they cannot get out of bed in the morning due to hypoglycaemia.
When the immune system is hypersensitive to certain substances, medicine calls it allergies. Rashes, asthma, cough and runny nose, swelling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and circulatory problems are typical of an allergy. General weakness is often accompanied by an allergy.
Persistent weakness often leads to psychological problems and can cause depression. The people affected are severely restricted in their everyday lives, and lustful pursuits tire them. When their friends go to parties, when the family wanders, when they want to see a foreign city on a weekend trip, they go limp.
Many affected people despair and think "I am always sick". Even worse: Neither you nor your environment can ever distinguish between mental crises and physical lows. Those affected often have the reputation of being simulants who always feel "weak" when they don't feel like doing something.
Without treatment, disability can also result. Added to this is social isolation. If you go to the birthday party after an hour because you feel weak, your friends will only invite you pro forma at some point and in the end you won't.
If organic diseases are the cause, then a doctor can find out. If the weakness has psychological reasons, these are more difficult to identify, but the psychiatrist, psychologist or psychotherapist also helps here.
A healthy diet with enough vitamins cannot hurt, and if a lack of vitamins or minerals is the cause, the weakness will soon disappear.
What can you do?
Check your living conditions: Are you under a lot of negative stress? Do you eat unhealthily, do you exercise too little? Do you ventilate your apartment sufficiently? Do you move outdoors? Are you overweight? These are all triggers for general weakness.
In any case, reduce your consumption of alcohol, cigarettes and coffee. However, refrain from self-treatment if an avoidable cause for your symptoms is not obvious. If there are basic illnesses, you can make everything worse with “self-medication”, even if the results are supposedly clear. If you have depression, for example, you need long-term psychotherapy in addition to antidepressants, and anemia may require a blood transfusion.
In the case of general weakness due to extreme obesity, it is not enough with a "rush diet", but you have to change your diet in the long term and systematically choose appropriate sports. For example, if you switch from zero to 180 and run miles every morning, you can have cardiovascular problems and secondly bone problems.
In the case of nested psychophysical feelings of weakness, self-treatment only helps in rare cases, because you have got used to the role of the "weak" and build up a new self-image, even if the physical means work.
The way out of weakness
This is not without difficulties. For example, her family and friends may have grown accustomed to her weakness. If you are now the one who urges you to hike through the forest in the morning, then this is a crazy role system that worked - also for your environment. Such changes are not without conflict.
Some sufferers also have problems with not getting “extra sausage”. They weren't simulators in times of weakness, but they got used to the fact that "stronger" people made decisions for them.
Last but not least, some false friends who built up their “strength” through the weakness of those affected also disappear. Taking care of someone also creates power. If such “friends” now realize that you no longer need their “help”, they may try to keep you addicted. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
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