What Causes Lethargy?

Discussion Lethargy is a common word used to describe a person who is drowsy, sluggish, listless and apathetic. Concentration may be difficult and they may have problems doing simple tasks. Many people actual mean fatigue or lassitude or being more tired when they use the word. In medical terms, lethargy is usually used to describe patients who have some type of excessive tiredness and usually have mental status changes with decreased alertness or arousal. Patients and health care providers both usually qualify the term and give more description to better communicate what is implied when using the term. This is true of many words such as “irritable” or “diarrhea” which again are used frequently but may be less precise as to their meaning, or that have different meaning for laypersons or health care professionals. In medicine, true excessive tiredness can be caused by many problems. History is very important. Is this an acute change with a profound decrease in alertness (e.g. sepsis, meningitis, drug toxicity, etc.), or is this more chronic and the patient and family have noticed a slower onset that is just now causing changes to their activities of daily living but not their mental alertness (e.g. anemia, hypothyroidism, etc.). Learning Point The differential diagnosis of fatigue (a review can be found here) and lethargy are large with much overlap. Every organ system can be a potential cause, as the body obviously wishes to conserve energy and rest mo...
Source: PediatricEducation.org - Category: Pediatrics Authors: Tags: Uncategorized Source Type: news

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