ZocdocAnswersHow do fatigue and exhaustion differ?

Question

How do fatigue and exhaustion differ?

Is there a difference between ""fatigued"" and being ""exhausted""? I have sometimes worried that I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but my friend told me it's not the same thing as just being ""exhausted."" Are either or both of these medical terminology?

Answer

For the most part, the words fatigue and exhausted mean about the same thing. Fatigue is usually used when describing someone who is tired and would like to sleep and exhausted is used to describe someone who is physically tired from performing a physical activity. Physicians don't make a big deal about distinguishing the two. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a controversial disease characterized by unexplained, persistent and relapsing fatigue that cannot be explained by any objective laboratory or imaging results or by any other diagnosis the person has. There are many theories of why people develop this syndrome including chronic viral infections, immune system dysfunction, or endocrine or metabolism dysfunction. No particular cause has been shown to be definitively associated with fatigue in chronic fatigue syndrome patients. There are no cures for this syndrome, but there is evidence that cognitive behavioral therapy, graded exercise therapy, and dietary changes may help some patients. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can take a detailed history of your symptoms and perform a through physical exam. Chronic fatigue syndrome may be diagnosed if other causes of long term fatigue are ruled out. Good luck.

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