Asthenia (body weakness) can cause both physical and, in some cases, mental fatigue. Moving your body becomes difficult or impossible due to a lack of energy, muscle twitching, or cramps.

Some people experience asthenia in a certain area of their body, such as the arms or legs. Others may experience full-body weakness, which is often the result of a bacterial or viral infection, such as influenza or hepatitis.

Weakness may be temporary, but it’s chronic or continuous in some cases. Learn more about the possible signs and causes of asthenia and when you should talk with your doctor.

Asthenia is a broad term to describe general fatigue and weakness, and leads to both physical and mental symptoms. If you’re experiencing possible symptoms of asthenia, it’s important to identify and treat the underlying cause of it. There are several potential causes to consider discussing with your doctor.

Underlying health conditions

Certain underlying health conditions may cause generalized fatigue and weakness, including:

Although weakness caused by cancer may appear slowly over an extended period of time, weakness caused by a heart attack or stroke often occurs immediately.

Medication side effects

Side effects from certain medications may cause asthenia, including:

Overdoses of medications and vitamins may also lead to asthenia.

Natural aging

Certain conditions seen more prominently as a part of aging may also lead to asthenia. Possibilities may include:

Other causes may include:

  • nerve or muscle injuries
  • diseases affecting the nerves or muscles
  • poison
  • not eating a balanced diet
  • a sedentary lifestyle

Isolated weakness

If you feel weak in one area of your body, you may find that you can’t move that part of your body efficiently. You may also experience:

Full body weakness

Full body weakness causes you to feel run down, similar to the feeling you get when you have the flu. This is known as fatigue, but it’s also possible to experience full body weakness without feeling tired.

Some people who experience full body weakness also experience:

  • fever
  • flu-like symptoms
  • pain in the affected area

Emergency symptoms

You should contact your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

There are many treatment options for weakness. Determining the underlying cause helps your doctor determine the best treatment method.

When you visit your doctor, they’ll go over your symptoms. They’ll ask you when you began experiencing symptoms. This will help your doctor better understand what may be causing you to feel weak.

Your doctor may request that you give a urine sample. They may also request a blood sample and send it to a lab for testing. The lab will test these samples for signs of infection and possible medical conditions that may cause weakness.

If you’re experiencing pain, your doctor may also order an imaging test to have a look at the area. Imaging tests may include:

Your doctor will order a brain scan and electrocardiogram if they suspect you’re having or have had a heart attack or stroke.

Asthenia may be primarily identified by weakness, but it may also cause mental and body fatigue.

Fatigue itself is a term that describes being too tired to engage in everyday activities. This level of tiredness persists, despite getting adequate sleep.

Fatigue can interfere with your quality of life and become frustrating. You may have the desire to stay active, but feel too tired to participate in day-to-day life — even after resting.

As with asthenia, there are numerous conditions that may cause fatigue. It’s also the most common symptom seen in advanced medical conditions. If you’re currently being treated for cancer, it’s important to know that fatigue is the most common side effect.

Once your doctor diagnoses the cause of your weakness, they’ll discuss treatment options with you based on the diagnosis.

Here are some common causes and their respective treatments:


If you’re dehydrated, increasing your fluid intake can help. However, if you’re showing severe symptoms of dehydration, you may require hospital treatment.

At the hospital, you’ll receive fluids through an intravenous (IV) line. You may also need medication to increase your blood pressure. At this point, the weakness may begin to subside.


If your weakness is due to anemia, you may need iron supplementation if it appears that you’re iron deficient.

You may need a blood transfusion if your anemia is severe. If you need a blood transfusion, you’ll receive one in the hospital. This treatment consists of receiving donor blood through an IV line.


If cancer is the cause of your weakness, your doctor will discuss your treatment options. The stage, location, and body structure involved all help to determine the best course of treatment. Treatment options for cancer include:

Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments can also cause asthenia.

Heart attack

If a heart attack caused your weakness, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you.

Not all cases of weakness require treatment. If your weakness is due to a cold or the flu, treatment may not be necessary.

Since asthenia is related to a variety of conditions, perhaps the most effective way to prevent it is to treat the underlying cause(s).

Other possible preventive measures include:

Some of the causes of weakness are part of a normal life. For example, if you have weakness due to a cold, time and rest should eventually clear up your weakness.

If your weakness originates from a more serious condition, seeing your doctor early and regularly can help you recover more quickly.

Taking care of your physical health is a good preventive measure. Drinking plenty of fluids, getting adequate rest, and exercising regularly can help you recover from weakness and also prevent it.

As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor if any weakness or fatigue is bothersome and interfering with your quality of life.

While weakness and fatigue from a cold or flu virus may go away on its own, you should see your doctor if any symptoms persist after being ill. If you’re currently being treated for a medical condition, any new or worsening weakness could mean that you need modifications to your treatment plan.

In addition to experiencing weakness, other symptoms may occur, such as:

  • difficulty breathing
  • pain
  • irregular heartbeat

Call 911 if you experience sudden weakness. Don’t try to drive yourself to the hospital.

What is senile asthenia?

“Senile asthenia” refers to asthenia that may be attributed to older age. Also sometimes called senile debility, this describes general weakness that may be linked to conditions seen more often in natural aging, such as heart disease.

What is mental asthenia?

While physical weakness is associated with asthenia, this condition may also cause mental weakness and fatigue. Possible symptoms of mental asthenia may include decreased motivation and other symptoms seen in depression.

What is neurocirculatory asthenia treatment?

Neurocirculatory asthenia (NCA) refers to weakness in both your nervous and circulatory systems. Mental health conditions, particularly anxiety, may be related to NCA, so treatment and management for the underlying causes can help.

What is postejaculatory asthenia?

Postejaculatory asthenia refers to unusual weakness and fatigue that you may experience after ejaculation. It may be related to a rare condition called postorgasmic illness syndrome (POIS, which is known for causing flu or allergy-like symptoms after having an orgasm). While the exact cause is unknown, POIS may have an autoimmune component.

Asthenia is a general term to describe extreme weakness and fatigue, but the underlying causes are numerous and may be complex.

With this condition, you may experience severe body or mental weakness related to a short-term illness, a long-term medical condition, or a more serious emergency.

Talk with your doctor if you’re experiencing localized muscle weakness or overall weakness in your body. Mental fatigue and weakness should also be addressed.

By treating the potential underlying cause of asthenia, you may see an overall improvement in your symptoms and experience better quality of life.