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Asthenia: Definition, Symptoms, Treatment, Causes

Updated on June 16, 2015

What Is Asthenia?

Asthenia is the medical term for the condition known as weakness. It is defined as a psychopathological condition marked by extreme temporary loss or chronic loss of strength and is also marked by sleep disturbance, fatigue, and hyperesthesia. The physical weakness may affect the body as a whole or may affect only a part of the body. Asthenia leads to the inability to perform or finish a task although a certain task can be initiated except that there is difficulty due to a reduction or loss in the overall strength. The reduction in muscle strength is often associated with the underlying disease and other medical condition such as muscular dystrophy.

Asthenia leads to the inability to perform or finish a task although a certain task can be initiated except that there is difficulty due to a reduction or loss in the overall strength. The reduction in muscle strength is often associated with the underlying disease and other medical condition such as muscular dystrophy.

The physical weakness may affect the body as a whole or only a part of it. Asthenia leads to the inability to perform or finish a task, even though a certain task can be initiated except that there is difficulty due to a reduction or loss in the overall strength. The reduction in muscle strength is often associated with the underlying disease and other medical conditions such as muscular dystrophy.

Asthenia or weakness is defined as a reduced strength which makes it difficult for an affected individual to be able to perform or finish a task. The weakness can be described either as true weakness or perceived weakness.

True weakness or neuromuscular is characterized by the limited use of a muscle due to reduced strength as brought on by any defect or damages.

Perceived weakness or non-neuromuscular is described as a perception of finishing or performing a task with difficulty in relation to the required strength or force to be able to perform the task. The muscle strength in perceived weakness is rather normal.

Muscular strength is described as the amount of force the muscle can exert and is established by fast twitch fibers that are centered on the rapid disintegration of energy. Strength is the measurement of force exerted towards a physical object.

Asthenia can occur to anyone regardless of age and gender and without racial predilection. The incidence can be temporary or it may be chronic or continuous. It is more of a symptom rather than a condition itself. Asthenia is not life-threatening, though it can affect the quality of life.

What Are the Symptoms of Asthenia?

The symptoms of asthenia depend on the area affected, whether it's affected the whole body or only a part. The symptoms also depend on the underlying condition and other symptoms that accompany asthenia.

The common signs and symptoms of asthenia that affect only a part of the body include the following:

  • Slow movement or a delayed movement in performing a task
  • Episodes of tremors or shaking when performing a task or in exerting effort
  • Presentation of muscle twitching
  • Muscle cramps

Common signs and symptoms of Asthenia affecting the whole body include the following:

  • Run down feeling comparable to symptoms of flu
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Loss or lack of energy
  • Physical discomfort
  • Absence or loss of muscle strength
  • Inability to complete a task or movement
  • Slow or delayed movement
  • Wobbly sensation

Asthenia may also be associated with other symptoms which are rather life-threatening require immediate medical attention. These include the following:

  • Change in mental state or confusion
  • Slurred speech or difficulty in speaking
  • Sudden change in vision
  • Excruciating pain
  • Sudden loss of consciousness

What Causes Asthenia?

Various factors and causes can result in the onset of Asthenia. Asthenia is caused by a lot of conditions that can trigger weakness or loss of strength.

Common causes of asthenia include the following:

Lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle is among the most common causes of Asthenia. A sedentary lifestyle often results in muscle wasting, when muscle fibers are instead replaced with fats because of inactivity and lack of muscle fitness. The replacement of muscle fibers with fats make the muscle more flaccid than chunky.

Age

Advancement in age or aging is also considered as one of the most common cause of asthenia. The muscles of the body naturally loosen and weaken as part of the normal aging process, resulting in weakness.

Infections

Infection is also seen as one of the common cause of Asthenia. The onset of muscle inflammation as a result of infection can cause the muscle to become weak temporarily until the infection has been resolved or until inflammation has subsided.

Chronic diseases

Chronic diseases usually lead to muscle weakness. The weakness of muscles from chronic diseases is often the result of insufficient blood and nutrient supply towards the muscles.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is another process that can result in asthenia. During and after the course of pregnancy, the levels of steroids in the blood are usually high. The high levels of steroids in the blood associated with anemia often results in muscle weakness and tiredness.

Other causes of asthenia include the following:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Adverse effects of certain medications
  • Vitamin deficiency particularly vitamin B9
  • Drug abuse
  • Food poisoning
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy

How Do You Treat Asthenia?

The treatment of asthenia depends on its underlying cause. The goal of treatment is to restore strength and function to the body.

Asthenia that is the result of an infection is often treated with antibiotics depending on the pathogen that caused the infection. Corticosteroids and other drugs used to suppress the immune system may be used to manage asthenia that resulted from autoimmune disorders.

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