Nearly everyone struggles with being overtired or overworked from time to time. Such instances of temporary fatigue usually have an identifiable cause and a likely remedy.

Chronic fatigue, on the other hand, lasts longer and is more profound. It's a nearly constant state of weariness that develops over time and diminishes your energy and mental capacity. Fatigue at this level impacts your emotional and psychological well-being, too.

Fatigue isn't the same thing as sleepiness, although it's often accompanied by a desire to sleep — and a lack of motivation to do anything else.

In some cases, fatigue is a symptom of an underlying medical problem that requires medical treatment. Most of the time, however, fatigue can be traced to one or more of your habits or routines.

Schedule a doctor's visit
Call for an appointment with your doctor if your fatigue has persisted for two or more weeks despite making an effort to rest, reduce stress, choose a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids.

Seek immediate medical attention
Get someone to take you to an emergency room or urgent care if fatigue is accompanied by:

  • Abnormal bleeding, including bleeding from your rectum or vomiting blood
  • Severe abdominal, pelvic or back pain
  • Severe headache

Call 911 or your local emergency medical service
Get emergency help if your fatigue is related to a mental health problem and your symptoms also include:

  • Thoughts of harming yourself or of suicide
  • Concern that you may harm someone else

Also get emergency care if your fatigue is accompanied by any of the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Feeling that you might pass out
Feb. 27, 2013