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Fatigue (either physical, mental or both) is a symptom that may be difficult for the patient to describe and words like lethargic, exhausted and tired may be used.
Taking a careful and complete history is the key to help making the underlying diagnosis of the cause for the symptom of fatigue. However, in about a third of patients the cause is not found and the diagnosis is not known.
There are numerous causes of fatigue symptoms. Examples of some treatable causes of fatigue include anemia, diabetes,thyroid disease, heart disease, COPD and sleep disorders (Table).
Long lasting complaints of fatigue do not equate to chronic fatigue syndrome. Specific criteria as set by the CDC need to be met to make that particular diagnosis.
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