Hematology Oncology

Are you tired of being tired?

Fatigue is a feeling of weariness, tiredness, or lack of energy.

Fatigue is different from drowsiness. In general, drowsiness is feeling the need to sleep, while fatigue is a lack of energy and motivation. Drowsiness and apathy (a feeling of indifference or not caring about what happens) can be symptoms that go along with fatigue.

Fatigue can be a normal and important response to physical exertion, emotional stress, boredom, or lack of sleep. However, it can also be a nonspecific sign of a more serious psychological or physical disorder. When fatigue is not relieved by enough sleep, good nutrition, or a low-stress environment, it should be evaluated. Fatigue is a common symptom and is usually not due to a serious disease.

The pattern of fatigue may help your doctor determine its underlying cause. For example, if you wake up in the morning rested but rapidly develop fatigue with activity, you may have an ongoing physical condition like an underactive thyroid. On the other hand, if you wake up with a low level of energy and have fatigue that lasts throughout the day, you may be depressed.

Anemia

Anemia (meaning lack of blood) is a decrease in the number of red blood cells or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. However, it can include decreased oxygen-binding ability of hemoglobin molecule.

Because hemoglobin (found inside RBCs) normally carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues, anemia leads to hypoxia (lack of oxygen) in organs. Because all human cells depend on oxygen for survival, varying degrees of anemia can have a wide range of clinical consequences.

Anemia is the most common disorder of the blood. There are several kinds of anemia, produced by a variety of underlying causes. The three main classes of anemia include excessive blood loss (acutely such as a hemorrhage or chronically through low-volume loss), excessive blood cell destruction (hemolysis) or deficient red blood cell production (ineffective hematopoiesis).

Anemia goes undetermined in many people, and symptoms can be minor or vague. The signs and symptoms can be related to the anemia itself, or the underlying cause.

Most commonly, people with anemia report non-specific symptoms of a feeling of weakness, or fatigue, general malaise and sometimes poor concentration. They may also report shortness of breath on exertion. In very severe anemia, the body may compensate for the lack of oxygen-carrying capability of the blood by increasing cardiac output. The patient may have symptoms related to this, such as palpitations, angina (if preexisting heart disease is present), intermittent claudication of the legs, and symptoms of heart failure.

Pica, the consumption of non-food based items such as dirt, paper, wax, grass, ice, and hair, may be a symptom of iron deficiency, although it occurs often in those who have normal levels of hemoglobin.

Chronic anemia may result in behavioral disturbances in children as a direct result of impaired neurological development in infants, and reduced scholastic performance in children of school age.

Restless legs syndrome is more common in those with iron-deficiency anemia.

Less common symptoms may include swelling of the legs or arms, chronic heartburn, vague bruises, vomiting, increased sweating, and blood in the stool.

We will discuss it more in upcoming weeks.

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